The Grand Canyon- its rugged beauty and spectacular scenery makes it a much-desired location for backpackers and river runners. It’s one of the natural wonders of the world and the second most visited National Park. Many would be surprised to know that the surrounding area that feeds the watershed is currently threatened by uranium mining, old-growth logging, and wildlife habitat destruction. The Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument would expand protection of 1.7 million acres of the watershed beyond the current boundaries of the National Park. Just this week, the Bear’s Ears and Gold Butte National Monuments were newly designated to protect lands in Utah and Nevada. Time is running out for President Obama to protect the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument under the Antiquities Act.
There are currently uranium mines operating on the rims of the Canyon, with plans to expand. The tale of Horn Creek is a cautionary one. The Orphan mine, closed since 1969, makes the creek unsafe to drink and to this day hikers are advised not to consume water from Horn Creek due to high levels of radiation. If there was an issue at the current mines, creeks, springs and even the Colorado River could be at risk. 30 million people currently rely on water from the Colorado River downstream of the Grand Canyon.
The Kaibab Paiute tribe, as well as the Navajo Nation and the Hopi, Zuni, Hualapai and Havasupai tribes all have current and ancestral connection to the lands surrounding the Canyon and designation of the new monument would protect archaeological sites and cultural resources as well as their drinking water.
The monument would also protect old-growth Ponderosa Pine forests from logging. Many are unaware that Arizona is home to the largest Ponderosa Pine forest on the planet. These large trees provide wildlife habitat and help to filter water supplies. Wildlife corridors in the Kaibab National Forest would also be preserved to protect the habitat of many species of birds, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, elk and the Kaibab Squirrel, which is only found on the plateau north of the Grand Canyon.
Please take the time to sign the petition to urge President Obama to designate the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument and permanently protect this precious watershed at www.greatergrandcanyon.org.
Article by Sirena Dufault, avid Grand Canyon explorer and former Colorado River guide