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April 09, 2024

Crane Bill to Support Rural Veterans in Northern Arizona Passes House

Legislation introduced by Rep. Eli Crane would transfer land from federal to local control, permitting operation of veterans center

Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R.1829, a bill introduced by Rep. Eli Crane (R-AZ), which would enable Gila County, Arizona to operate a veterans center on 232 acres in Young, Arizona.

The center is the first of its kind in northern Arizona, providing resources and support to primarily rural veterans and their families.

In many parts of the Western United States, the federal government retains vast amounts of land, limiting states’ ability to maintain, conserve, recreate, and responsibly produce on the lands within their own borders. The transfer of ownership to Gila County would protect and maintain the rich history of the property, while providing family housing, meeting and activity spaces, resource rooms, Veteran Ceremonial Grounds, and outdoor recreation.

“This veterans center is so crucial for rural veterans in northern Arizona who selflessly served our nation. I’m grateful to see my colleagues in the House recognize the significance of this land transfer,” said Rep. Crane. “This was the first piece of legislation I introduced and is a testament to the significance of northern Arizona’s veterans. Anytime Congress can vote on legislation that returns power to the states is a good thing. I’m grateful to House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman and Subcommittee Chairman Tom Tiffany for their leadership and look forward to the advancement of this bill in the Senate.”

House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman said, “America’s veterans and their families have sacrificed so much to defend our freedom, and Congress must do everything in its power to provide our servicemembers with proper care and opportunities. The commonsense, bipartisan land transfer provided by H.R. 1829 will do just that by opening up new experiences to veterans in the area for recreation and recovery. A veteran himself, Representative Crane has led on these issues this Congress, and I look forward to continuing to work with him to get this bill through the Senate and signed into law.”

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and former Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ) helped to lay the foundation for this bipartisan effort last Congress.  

The legislation has been introduced by Senator Kelly (D-AZ) and Senator Sinema (I-AZ) in the Senate.

Gila County Supervisor Woody Cline testified before the House Natural Resources Committee on the significant impacts and outstanding resources the center would provide for veterans and their families in the region.

Speaking to Supervisor Cline about the purpose of the veterans center, Rep. Crane said, “One of the things I love so much about this project, is that you’re not coming here, Mr. Cline, and asking the federal government for any money. You’re actually trying to take something that’s a beautiful piece of land that’s not being used anymore and revitalize it into something amazing for some of our nation’s finest individuals.”

“This site will only be one of two sites in Arizona. There’s one in the southern part of Arizona and one in the northern part […] It’s huge for our local community as well. We have a local veteran community of about 100 people right there in that small town. And then right there between us and Payson, there’s roughly another 5,000-7,000 more right there. Having this accessible, not only to the local members, the state members, the national members, but also, we’re adjacent to the White Mountain Apache Tribe that is not very far away that has a number of veterans in that reservation as well that have been big supporters of this project. It means everything to these folks,” said Supervisor Woody Cline during hearing questioning.