Phoenix, Ariz. – As the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service approaches, Environment America announced a nationwide campaign calling on President Obama to stop new uranium mining by creating a new National Monument surrounding America’s most iconic national park: the Grand Canyon.
40+ organizers have descended on nine cities in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada, where they plan to spend the next three days gathering petitions and identifying more than 1,000 small businesses to urge the president to create the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument before he leaves office.
Following this week’s intensive organizing push, door-to-door canvassers in nine states will distribute literature to more than a quarter million households across the country over the next several months, explaining the need for the president to prevent new mining and other destructive activity on the 1.7 million acres of public lands that surround the park.
In addition, starting right after the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service on August 25th, 10 organizers will take their posts in states from Washington to Florida, Maine to Missouri to continue educating and mobilizing students and other concerned citizens about the need for President Obama to create the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument before he leaves office.
“As we celebrate the 100th birthday of our national parks, there’s no better time to permanently protect this great American icon,” said Margie Alt, executive director of Environment America. “That’s why we’re joining our environmental, business, and tribal allies to help protect the Grand Canyon for future generations. We’ll be out doing what we do best: pounding the pavement and mobilizing the public from coast to coast to make sure the Grand Canyon is just as special 100 years from now as it is today.
The national park itself is one of the nation’s most visited, drawing 5.5 million people last year for hiking, paddling, and more, sustaining thousands of jobs and generating $300 million in economic activity.
The proposed monument, supported by wide majorities of Arizonans and Americans nationwide is home to North America’s largest old growth ponderosa pine forest and dozens of unique and endangered wildlife, from bighorn sheep to the California condor. It also hosts thousands of archeological sites dating back millennia.
Mining isn’t currently allowed within the park itself, and new mines are currently prevented under a 20-year moratorium issued by the Obama administration in 2012.
But as the price of uranium has climbed, companies are pushing for the moratorium to be lifted. One company, Energy Fuels, Inc. has begun to reopen a mine just six miles from the park’s popular South Rim.
Old mines around and inside the national park have left water contamination that lingers to this day, and new mining could further harm the Colorado River, which provides drinking water to more than 25 million people downstream.
“It took millions of years for the Colorado River to form the Grand Canyon, one of the most amazing places on earth,” said Phoenix-based Bret Fanshaw of Environment America. “On the hundredth anniversary of our National Parks we’re calling on the president to fortify his conservation legacy, and stop reckless mining from ruining this American icon.”
Environment America is the national federation of statewide, citizen-funded advocacy groups, including Environment Arizona, working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future. www.EnvironmentAmerica.org