Coalition pushes for greater environmental protections for the Grand Canyon – by Megan Janetsky (Arizona Republic – August 24, 2016)

The eve of the 100th birthday of the National Park Service was not met in Phoenix with chipper choruses of “Happy Birthday” but rather with calls by local and national organizations to protect the Grand Canyon by halting uranium mining in the area.

Members of Environment Arizona and the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club, which together form the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument Coalition, gathered Wednesday in downtown Phoenix to announce their petition to take action on uranium mining and old-growth logging in the Grand Canyon.

With the support of 500 local businesses and a half-million signatures, groups like Environment Arizona and Sierra Club are banding together to send a petition to the Obama administration to create a Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument. Some 6,000 of the signatures were gathered in the past week in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado, according to the groups’ spokesmen.

“We’re calling out President Obama to establish a national monument which would be north and south of the park,” said Bret Fanshaw, state advocate for Environment Arizona. “It would be 1.7 million acres of land. It’s already federal land, but it doesn’t have some needed protections against some pretty destructive activity, like uranium mining and logging.”

In 2012, the Obama administration banned any new claims for uranium mining in the Grand Canyon area for 20 years. This move effectively made about 1 million acres of land outside the Grand Canyon National Park off-limits to any new mining developments. After appeals by the National Mining Association on grounds of federal overreach, the case was upheld.

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