1000 businesses, educators and environmental groups call for Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument
Washington, D.C. -- As the clock ticks down on the Obama administration, one thousand community leaders are joining the call to permanently protect the Grand Canyon and 1.7 million acres surrounding it from dirty and dangerous uranium mining. Representing nearly all 50 states, environmental organizations, business owners and academics, organized by Environment America, sent letters to President Obama, adding their voices to those of Native American tribes, local, state and federal elected officials, faith leaders and nearly one million Americans who have petitioned the president to create a new Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument.
“There’s no more iconic place in the U.S. than the Grand Canyon. That’s why Americans from all walks of life and every corner of the nation are coming together to ask the Obama administration to permanently protect this spectacular place and the ecosystem surrounding it from uranium mining,” said Christy Leavitt, Outreach Director for Environment America.
The Grand Canyon already paid a steep price for past uranium mining. Four tributaries of the Colorado River remain contaminated from uranium mining that happened decades ago. With an existing mine to the north, a new uranium mine being built to the south and claims on 3,000 sites near the park, the best way to stop any new destructive mining is for the president to use his authority under the Antiquities Act to create a new national monument in 1.7 million acres of federal land surrounding the national park.
"US Geological Survey studies traced high levels of radioactive contamination from uranium mining which likely caused irreversible damage to tributaries and other waterways across the Grand Canyon region. We must permanently protect the Grand Canyon, our American pride, by creating a national monument with the goal to safeguard its critical ecosystem for humans and wildlife for generations to come,” said Himadri Chakraborty, Associate Professor of Physics, Department of Natural Science, Northwest Missouri State University.
Beyond the spectacular vistas, there is much to appreciate about The Grand Canyon. The area is home to numerous species and the Colorado River, which provides drinking water to tens of millions of people. More than 6 million visitors this year to the Grand Canyon sustain thousands of jobs and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity. Native American communities support the new national monument as a way to protect native antiquities and holy places. And, polls show vast majorities of Arizonans and of all Americans support permanent protection for the canyon.
“The Grand Canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world,” said John Crandall, owner of Old Town Bike shop in Colorado Springs, CO. “My local customers and international tourists who stop in Colorado Springs have visited and enjoyed the Grand Canyon. The impacts of toxic uranium mining at the Canyon would hurt the outdoor recreation industry right near the Grand Canyon and all the way over here.”
“Whether opening up the Grand Canyon to mining interests or weakening restrictions on development in our state’s Highlands Preservation Area, we cannot allow the squandering of our natural heritage for the benefit of special interests. These are shared resources our governments hold in trust on behalf of the public," said Elliott Ruga, Policy Director at the New Jersey Highlands Coalition.
“Creating the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument would be the icing on the cake of President Obama’s strong conservation legacy,” said Leavitt.
The letters can be found here:
Environment America is a federation of 29 state-based environmental advocacy organizations working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future.