President Obama has designated the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine to honor the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. Public lands advocates rallied in Flagstaff yesterday in hopes the president will declare another such monument near the Grand Canyon. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports.
Members of the group Environment Arizona gathered at Flagstaff City Hall to support the designation of a 1.7-million-acre Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument. They believe it would protect the park from radioactive pollution by banning uranium mining in the area.
“Uranium contamination in our region is not theoretical,” says Coconino County Supervisor Art Babbott, who is also in favor of the plan. “These are our lands, these are common lands, they need to be protected as such, and the values that we hold important to us in this region need to be preserved, and that’s exactly what this proposal does.”
Twenty Southwestern tribes back the proposal. They say a monument would protect Native American cultural sites in the Grand Canyon.
The debate, however, has been divisive. The Arizona Game and Fish Department, and some lawmakers, say a national monument designation would complicate wildlife management and add another layer of federal control.
Recent polls show a majority of Arizonans support the monument proposal.