Voter-approved measure will help safeguard bases
Lost in the excitement of the election results for the presidential election this week was another voting result that will have an important impact on the Yuma community and other Arizona communities that have a major military presence.
Although votes remain to be counted, unofficial results indicate Arizona voters approved Proposition 119 by a significant margin. The measure amends the Arizona Constitution to change how the state can dispose of state trust land.
Currently, state trust land — which was given to Arizona by the federal government when it became a state — can either be leased or sold to primarily benefit public schools. Prop 119 allows it to also be traded for other land in order to protect military installations and operations within the state.
One of the biggest threats to a military base is often encroachment by housing and other commercial operations. When that happens, safety and noise concerns are often raised and that in turn leads to restrictions on military operations. Eventually, that ends in the base being closed or moved somewhere else.
A number of Arizona communities — including Yuma — have economies that are dependent on military operations and Prop 119 helps protect them by allowing land swaps that help prevent encroachment.
This change has been proposed previously to voters but was rejected repeatedly. This time the various interest groups — conservationists, environmentalists, community leaders and commercial interests — came together to reach a mutually acceptable agreement represented by Prop 119. As a result, there was no organized opposition.
The proposition provides in-depth safeguards so the land trades will be fair and acceptable. There are provisions for public input on exchanges and voters must provide the final approval.
We here in Yuma can feel a little more assured that military operations will be preserved here thanks to voter support for Proposition 119.