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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 11, 2000
                      Agua Fria National Monument
                            January 11, 2000

President Clinton will sign a proclamation today creating the Agua Fria National Monument in Arizona. The President will also sign proclamations creating the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument in Arizona and the California Coastal National Monument, and expanding Pinnacles National Monument in California.

Saving Prehistoric Treasures. The new 71,100-acre Agua Fria National Monument contains one of the most significant systems of late prehistoric sites in the American Southwest. Its ancient ruins offer insights into the lives of those who long ago inhabited this part of the desert Southwest. The monument is located in central Arizona approximately forty miles north of central Phoenix. The monument encompasses two mesas-Perry Mesa and the adjacent, smaller Black Mesa - the public land to the north of these mesas, and the canyon of the Agua Fria River. Elevations range from 600 feet above sea level along the Agua Fria Canyon to about 4,300 feet in the northern hills.

At least 450 prehistoric sites are known to exist within the monument, and there are likely many more. Many intact petroglyph sites within the monument contain rock art symbols etched into the surfaces of boulders and cliff faces. The area also holds an extraordinary record of prehistoric agricultural features, including extensive terraces bounded by lines of rocks and other types of landscape modifications. In addition to its rich record of human history, the monument contains other objects of scientific interest: a diversity of vegetative communities, a wide array of sensitive wildlife species, and native fish. The area, vital open space on the northern edge of the rapidly expanding Phoenix urban area, has already suffered from extensive vandalism.

Managing the New Monument. The monument continues to be managed by the Bureau of Land Management for the predominant purpose of protecting the objects for which the monument has been created. Currently permitted livestock grazing, hunting, fishing, and similar activities will generally not be affected, nor will private property within the boundary (1,440 acres) or other valid existing rights such as water rights. New mining claims and geothermal leasing will be prohibited, and the current prohibition on off-road vehicle use will be made permanent. Water rights necessary to protect monument objects will be reserved for the federal government.

Public Process. Secretary Babbitt initiated a process in July 1999 to solicit public input and advice about the future management and protection of the Agua Fria region, meeting with leading archeologists, Arizona State officials, and staff from the Arizona congressional delegation. Three public open houses were held in nearby communities in September 1999 specifically to discuss the area's possible designation as a national monument. In October 1999, the Bureau of Land Management forwarded to the Secretary a report of the meeting discussions and an assessment of future management.

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