Gila Bend Chamber of Commerce and the National Trust have announced that a new economic impact study found that protecting the nationally significant cultural and historic resources along the Great Bend of the Gila River would contribute an estimated $1.3 million annually to Arizona’s Maricopa and Yuma Counties through increased tourism.
The BBC Research & Consulting research indicated that a public land designation, such as a national monument, will increase visitation to the area and provide a significant economic boost to the rural area.
U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) introduced the Great Bend of the Gila National Monument Establishment Act (H.R. 1348) in March 2013. The proposed monument runs 75 miles along the river, and includes world-class rock art, archaeological remains of ancestral Hohokam and Patayan cultures, and three historic trails – the Juan Bautista de Anza, Butterfield Stagecoach, and the Mormon Battalion and the site of the westernmost skirmish of the Civil War.
In addition to protecting the sites, a national monument designation would allow for a wide range of uses, including hiking, horseback riding, hunting, backpacking, biking, motorized vehicle use, and scientific research.