- Associated Press - Thursday, April 17, 2014

PHOENIX (AP) - Gov. Jan Brewer on Thursday vetoed a bill designed to allow the city of Tombstone to access federal land to repair its water system, saying the legislation had constitutional issues.

Brewer said in a veto letter for House Bill 2541 that it was probably unconstitutional for the state to grant access to federal lands, and a settlement with federal land managers was a better option. The bill would allow cities and towns to enter restricted federal land without permission in emergencies.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, said she was inspired by the battle between Tombstone and the federal government over repairs it needs to perform to its water supply system in the Coronado National Forest. She was clearly upset with the veto and said she plans to continue trying to find a solution.

“I’m committed to the people of Tombstone to see to it that they are able to access the pipe that has brought them water since before Arizona was a state,” Townsend said.

The bill passed the Senate and House mainly along party lines, with majority Republicans in support.

Tombstone has been trying to use heavy equipment to perform extensive repairs on the pipeline system that brings water into town from the Huachuca Mountains. A 2011 fire led to storm runoff and mudslides that damaged the pipeline and the springs that feed it.

The U.S. Forest Service allowed some limited repairs but has blocked the extensive rebuilding with heavy equipment Tombstone is seeking.

The fight has been ongoing for more than three years in the federal courts. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to step in and order the Forest Service to allow the work to be completed.

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