Proponents of the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument have delivered more than 550,000 petition signatures and comments to the White House. They hope President Obama will set aside 1.7 million acres of public land near the national park before leaving office next year. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports.
The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Center for Biological Diversity, among other groups, say the signatures represent growing support for the national monument. They claim uranium mining on lands adjacent to the Grand Canyon puts the national park’s watershed and ecology at risk. Declaring a monument would permanently ban uranium mining there.
More than 20 tribal nations like the Havasupai, Navajo and Hopi, say the designation would protect area sacred and cultural sites. They’re also calling for the president to declare the national monument through the Antiquities Act.
Some elected officials, however, like Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar, say such a designation is unnecessary, and would represent a federal land grab. The Arizona Game and Fish Department also opposes the monument, and claims it would hinder wildlife management in the area.