Author Topic: ARIZONA STATE II_ LAND DEPARTMENT  (Read 1133 times)


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« on: October 08, 2008, 01:22:06 AM »
Janet Napolitano
Mark Winkleman
State land
Recreation on State Trust Land:
Clearing the air on the dust issue
It's been over thirty years since the Land Department issued its first Recreation Permit.
In the preceding sixty-three years, little thought or attention was given to the impact of
recreation on State Trust Land. Today, recreation is big business and often with an
equally big impact. Thousands of dollars per year are spent pursuing various passions &
hobbies that often involve the use of State Trust Land. The impact of this recreation
ranges from hardly noticeable to down-right destructive.
Managing State Trust Land has been an evolutionary process from the start. Early in
the Department's history, the primary use of State Trust Land was for Grazing and
Agriculture. Indeed, much ofthe 9.3 million acres of the Trust Land portfolio is leased or
permitted for those endeavors. However, as Arizona has diversified and the population
grown, demand for Commercial and Residential Development has moved to the
forefront. The result has been record numbers in revenue generated for the Trust and its
beneficiaries. In the past 5 years, the Department has raised more revenue from
Development than the previous 50 years combined.
While demand for commercial and residential development has increased, so has
demand for recreational use of State Trust Land. Unfortunately, the minimal revenues
associated with Individual & Family Recreation Permits, do not even benefit the Trust,
but are instead sent to the Legislature's General Fund (recent legislative changes allows
the Department to recover some of the processing cost thru fee increases, but the funds do
not go to the trust or trust beneficiaries). Consequently, Recreation Permits have always
posed a degree of liability to the trust without real compensation.
Until recently, the amount of liability posed by recreation remained unnoticed. But
with sweeping environmental & dust regulations handed down from the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), and subsequent laws and ordinances by various cities and
counties pursuant to Senate Bill 1552, the Department like any other reasonable land
owner/manager has been exploring options to limit its potential liability. Most of these
regulations are limited to a boundary called "Area A" largely within Maricopa County,
and the Department is primarily concerned with Trust Lands within that area.
The Land Department is not a regulatory agency like the EPA, but rather it acts as a
trustee with a fiduciary duty to the trust beneficiaries. In this respect the recreation
dilemma is purely an economic puzzle of costs and benefits, not one motivated by
politics or idealism.
The Land Department is not inherently opposed to recreation on State Trust Land. But
the Land Department has a fiduciary duty to the trust it manages, and to the beneficiaries
it helps to fund. Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law defines fiduciary duty as "a duty
obligating a fiduciary (as an agent or trustee) to act with loyalty and honesty and in a
manner consistent with the best interests of the beneficiary of the fiduciary relationship
(as a principal or trust beneficiary)". In short, when it comes to recreation, the Land
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1616 West Adams Phoenix, AZ 85007
Department must be prudent in permitting certain types of activities, especially when
such activities pose a potentially significant liability to the Trust.
The Department's numerous lessees and commercial permittees, who lease or are
permitted by contract to use certain parcels of State Trust Land, are required to abide by
Department policies, and all Federal, State, and local ordinances, as a condition of their
lease or contract. This is the Department's way of protecting the trust.
Furthermore, the proceeds of these leases and commercial permits financially benefit
the trust beneficiaries. It is for this reason that the Department has explored the
alternative Special Land Use Permit (SLUP) as a means for recreation on State Trust
Land within Area A. What is necessary is an applicant who is able and willing to comply
with strict state and local ordinances to manage trail systems and prevent illegal dust
generation in a specified area. A SLUP of this sort might allow for a commercial business
to operate by charging a fee for service; or it might be issued to a non-profit or even a
government agency that has an interest in keeping certain areas open for public
The Land Department has made repeated and similar offers, to certain organizations
who are better suited to this type of management, to evaluate and process their
applications and proposals; and the offer still stands. However, as long as a known
recreational area remains open, unmaintained and continues to generate dust, then the
trust is left to foot-the-bill. It is not within our fiduciary duty to allow that to happen.
The Land Department is accepting applications for Recreational Special Land Use
Permits at 1616 W Adams, Phoenix, AZ 85007. The Department advices prospective
applicants to request a pre-application meeting to discuss their proposal; the application
fee is non-refundable and approval of the application is not guaranteed. For more
information please contact Kenneth Lamb, Recreation Administrator for the State Land
Department @ (602)542-3322 or by email