Mark Udall, who represented Colorado as a Democrat in the Senate from 2009 to 2015, is a member of the board of the Grand Canyon Trust.
Eldorado Springs, Colo. — I RECENTLY reunited with an old friend — not a person, but a place in Arizona, the state where I was born. It is a timeless place of great antiquity, a shrine of the ages that President Theodore Roosevelt said “man can only mar.”
Roosevelt proclaimed the Grand Canyon a national monument in 1908. In so doing, he specifically intended to prevent mining and tourist development from harming one of our nation’s most treasured landscapes. “Keep it for your children, your children’s children and all who come after you,” he said, “as the one great sight which every American should see.”
But mar it we have. An abandoned uranium mine on the canyon’s South Rim has cost taxpayers more than $15 million to remove toxic wastes from the surface. And contaminated water — flowing underground through the mine’s radioactive ore — continues to poison a spring-fed creek deep within the canyon. It is a permanent loss at an unconscionable cost that should never be borne again.
Roosevelt’s proclamation set aside only a fraction of the Grand Canyon as a national monument. His decision rankled mining and tourist businesses in the booming Arizona territory. Local politicians and profiteers fought the postage-stamp-size monument’s further protection as a national park in 1919.
For the rest of this column, click here: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/14/opinion/grand-canyon-waters-at-the-abyss.html