Washington, DC – In celebration of PARK(ing) Day, an international event to create temporary public parks, Environment America has transformed a metered parking space in downtown Washington, D.C. into a Grand Canyon themed pop-up park.
Environment America’s park at 1730 Pennsylvania Ave NW highlights the need to permanently protect the Grand Canyon and land surrounding the park from uranium mining and other destructive practices with the establishment of the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument.
“There’s no more iconic park in the country than the Grand Canyon, so it’s a perfect way to celebrate PARK(ing) Day,” said Christy Leavitt of Environment America. “Creating the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument will ensure that this spectacular place is here for future generations to experience.”
The Grand Canyon is one of the nation’s most visited national parks, drawing 5.5 million people last year for hiking, white water rafting, and more, sustaining thousands of jobs and generating $300 million in economic activity.
The proposed monument would protect 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 and places sacred to Native American tribes dating back millennia.
Mining isn’t allowed within the park itself, and new mines are currently prevented nearby under a 20-year moratorium issued by the Obama administration in 2012. But a mine is being reopened just six miles from the south rim of the national park entrance by Energy Fuels, Inc. And as the price of uranium has climbed, companies are pushing for the moratorium to be lifted.
Mining in the region, including within the national park, has left a legacy of water contamination that lingers to this day, and new mining could further harm the Colorado River, which provides drinking water to tens of millions of people downstream.
President Obama has built a sturdy conservation track record including yesterday’s announcement of the first marine monument in U.S. Atlantic waters, New England’s Coral Canyons and Seamounts. Creating the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument would be another great addition to the list.
“It took 30 minutes to set up this mini-park but it took millions of years to form the Grand Canyon,” said Leavitt. “Now it’s up to the president to protect this great American icon for generations to come.”
Environment America’s mini-park is in a metered parking space at 1730 Pennsylvania Ave NW from 9:00 – 4:00 on Friday, September 16.
Environment America is the national federation of statewide, citizen-funded advocacy groups, working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future. www.EnvironmentAmerica.org