Category Archives: #Forests

Uranium Company Calls Us “Egregious”? Sierra Club Offers Defensible Facts.

In the Phoenix New Times story, Canyon Mine Faces Accusations of Environmental Racism by Navajos, Sierra Club (March 21, 2017), the vice president for marketing and corporate development at Energy Fuels Nuclear (USA) Inc., who owns Canyon Mine, had a few interesting things to say.  Unfortunately, he put forward no evidence behind his statements, and we have photos and documents to back up ours.

 

1.) Water being trucked from Canyon Mine has elevated levels of uranium, and possibly other toxic chemicals too.  The Phoenix New Times article reported: 

…a spokesman for Energy Fuels previously told the Arizona Daily Sun that the water being trucked through the Navajo Nation has three times the amount of dissolved uranium than is considered “safe” to drink. And in a November report to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, the company noted that the water contains 30 times the recommended level of arsenic.

But now Curtis Moore, vice president for marketing and corporate development at Energy Fuels, says that the water is not contaminated. “The excess water we are managing is relatively clean, and contains only trace amounts of natural uranium,” he wrote in an e-mailed response.

“In fact, the water we are trucking offsite either meets – or comes very close to meeting – EPA drinking water standards for dissolved uranium.”

FACT: Energy Fuels Nuclear (USA) Inc. told the Arizona Daily Sun that the water contained 90 micrograms per liter, three times the drinking water “standard” of 30 micrograms per liter set by the EPA.  This level of uranium contamination was confirmed in a conversation between Sierra Club and the Kaibab National Forest on March 17, 2017. This level is lower than the amount that Energy Fuels Nuclear (USA) Inc. reported to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality in its “General Aquifer Protection Permit Annual Report for 2016”, when they reported 130 micrograms per liter of uranium (over four times the drinking water standard) and 292 micrograms per liter of arsenic (over 29 times the drinking water standard for arsenic) in water taken from the shaft of Canyon Mine on November 9, 2016.

 

2.) Contaminated water is being sprayed in the air – and radioactive mist is drifting into the Kaibab National Forest.

Making matters even worse, the Sierra Club says, Energy Fuels is now spraying some of the water from the mine into the air in an attempt to get it to evaporate. Photos captured by Sierra Club and Haul No! volunteers appear to show radioactive mist drifting into the Kaibab National Forest, which surrounds the mine…

Curtis Moore of Energy Fuels disputed the environmental group’s claims.

“We are not blowing water into the forest, as the Sierra Club claims,” he wrote in his e-mailed response.

“We have employed some commonly utilized enhanced evaporation machines that creates a mist over the pond to speed evaporation rates, which we shutdown during high-wind days to avoid the potential of the mist of this relatively clean water from crossing our fence-line.”

FACT: Here’s a picture taken at Canyon Mine on March 12, 2017, outside the perimeter fence of Canyon Mine, on a day when the average wind speed was only 4mph at the nearby Grand Canyon Airport, with gusts of 20 to 30 mph.

Overspray of radioactively contaminated water drifts into the Kaibab National Forest near Canyon Mine. Klee Benally photo.

Overspray of radioactively contaminated water drifts into the Kaibab National Forest near Canyon Mine. Klee Benally photo.

 

Aaaaaand, here’s another one:

Overspray of radioactively contaminated water drifts into the Kaibab National Forest near Canyon Mine. Klee Benally photo.

Overspray of radioactively contaminated water drifts into the Kaibab National Forest near Canyon Mine. Klee Benally photo.

Sure looks to me like the toxic mist is hitting the forest…

 

3.) Trucks moving uranium-laced water through the Navajo and Ute Nations are mislabelled or poorly marked.

FACT:  This photo shows a truck arriving at Canyon Mine’s front gate to pick up a load of water headed for the White Mesa uranium mill in Blanding, Utah.  The placard says “1268” which is a marking indicating the truck is hauling petroleum products.  Nothing indicates the presence of uranium in the truck’s contents.

A truck arrives at Canyon Mine to pick up radioactively contaminated water to haul to the White Mesa uranium mill in Blanding, UT. The placard is labelled for petroleum products. Ryan Beam photo.

A truck arrives at Canyon Mine to pick up radioactively contaminated water to haul to the White Mesa uranium mill in Blanding, UT. The placard is labelled for petroleum products. Ryan Beam photo.

 

Facts.  Nothing but facts here.

Please let us know what you think.

 

 

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U.S. Court of Appeals to Hear Back-to-Back Cases on Uranium Mining Threats to the Grand Canyon Region, Thursday Dec. 15 in San Francisco

 

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Uranium mining on the plateaus surrounding Grand Canyon threatens creeks below its rims.  Uranium contamination from the Orphan Mine has rendered Horn Creek, between the popular Bright Angel and Hermit Trails, undrinkable.

Contacts:

Ted Zukoski, Earthjustice (303) 641-3149tzukoski@earthjustice.org

Neil Levine, Grand Canyon Trust (720) 339-0800nlevine@grandcanyontrust.org

Richard W. Hughes, Rothstein Donatelli LLP, (505) 988-8004rwhughes@rothsteinlaw.com

Eric Bontrager, National Parks Conservation Association (202) 770.7419ebontrager@npca.org

Sandy Bahr, Sierra Club-Grand Canyon Chapter (602) 999-5790sandy.bahr@sierraclub.org

 

San Francisco — The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco will hear oral arguments Thursday, December 15 on two key cases involving uranium mining on public lands near Grand Canyon National Park.

In the first case, Havasupai Tribe v. Provencio, the Havasupai Tribe, Grand Canyon Trust, Center for Biological Diversity, and Sierra Club challenge the United States Forest Service’s decision to allow Energy Fuels Resources to reopen the Canyon uranium mine, which was initially approved in the 1980s and had been closed since 1992. The federal agency permitted this “zombie” mine to reopen without analyzing the mine’s environmental impacts in light of changed circumstances in the intervening quarter-century.

The Canyon Mine is located on the Kaibab National Forest, a few miles south of Grand Canyon National Park, and is within a one million acre area that was withdrawn from mining in 2012 due to concerns about uranium mining’s environmental and cultural threats to the Grand Canyon watershed.

2012 11 21 Canyon Mine aerial 2

Canyon Mine was approved with no new environmental review after being closed for a quarter of a century.

Richard Hughes of Rothstein Donatelli LLP will argue on behalf of the Havasupai Tribe; Neil Levine of Grand Canyon Trust will argue on behalf of conservation groups.

The second case, National Mining Association v. Jewell, involves mining and uranium industries’ challenges to the Interior Department’s 20-year ban on new uranium mining claims on public lands adjacent to the Grand Canyon.

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Northern Arizona students protest uranium mining near Grand Canyon.

The ban was requested in 2008 by Arizona’s governor, local governments, American Indian tribes, recreationists, and conservation groups concerned about a uranium mining boom’s impact on groundwater, cultural resources, and the iconic landscapes surrounding the Grand Canyon. It was issued by then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in 2012. The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona upheld the ban in two rulings, one in 2013 (decision here) and the other in 2014 (decision here), and the mining interests appealed.

The nonprofit law firm, Earthjustice, will represent the Havasupai Tribe, Grand Canyon Trust, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, and National Parks Conservation Association in defending the ban. Department of Justice attorneys will also defend the Interior Department’s decision.

 


What: Arguments in Havasupai Tribe v. Provencio and National Mining Association v. Jewell before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Where: Courtroom 4, Room 260

               James R. Browning U.S. Courthouse

               95 Seventh St.

             San Francisco, Calif.

When: Approximately 9:30 a.m. PST, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016

Streaming: http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/media/live_oral_arguments.php.


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Praise for Rep. Kirkpatrick’s Endorsement of Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Thursday, September 30, 2016

Contact: Celia Barotz, cbarotz@gmail.com, (928) 853-7295

Photo of House Rock Valley from Kaibab Plateau: trees, canyon

FLAGSTAFF, AZ — Rep. Anne Kirkpatrick (AZ-1) today announced her support of the proposed Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument, signing on as a co-sponsor to the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument Act. Kirkpatrick joins a long list of those speaking out for a monument designation, including more than 20 area Tribal Nations, more than 400 local businesses, and local and national leaders.

“I applaud Rep. Kirkpatrick for standing with many people in Arizona and throughout the country who want to safeguard these lands from new uranium mines,” said Celia Barotz, Vice-Mayor of Flagstaff.

The proposal enjoys strong support in the state, with 4 in 5 Arizonans supporting protecting the public lands surrounding the Grand Canyon as a national monument– support reflected nationwide with 82% of people in favor of the proposal. Across the country more than half a million people have joined the call for action by President Obama.

“What’s good for the environment is also good for our economy. People travel from around the world to see an untouched Grand Canyon, not uranium mining operations,” said Ash Patel, president and CEO of Southwest Hospitality Management, LLC and past chairman of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association.  “Protecting Grand Canyon for future generations is dear to my heart. The step Rep. Kirkpatrick took today brings us one step closer to ensuring this natural beauty stays in its more rare form.”

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Say NO to Uranium Mining Around Grand Canyon!

Speak up at Uranium Mine Public Hearings

Canyon Mine_ Sarah Ponticello photo

Canyon uranium mine.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) is issuing new air quality permits to three uranium mines within 20 miles of Grand Canyon National Park. Two mines are preparing to open for the first time: Canyon Mine south of Grand Canyon and EZ Mine north of Grand Canyon. One mine is on “standby” and not currently producing ore: Arizona 1 Mine north of Grand Canyon. The Pinenut Mine, also north of Grand Canyon, is preparing for “reclamation” and is not being required to have an air quality permit.

ATTEND A PUBLIC HEARING:

Monday, August 29 6pm

Fredonia High School Gymnasium

221 E. Hortt St.

Fredonia

Tuesday, August 30 1pm-3pm

Moenkopi Legacy Inn & Suites
Tsotsvalki Conference Center
Tunatya Room #3
Junction of Hwy 160 and Hwy 264 in Tuba City 

Tuesday, August 30 6 pm

Sinagua Middle School Auditorium Mini A

3950 E. Butler Ave.

Flagstaff

SUBMIT A WRITTEN COMMENT:

Written comments are due August 30. More information and link to submit comments at https://www.azdeq.gov/PN/EnergyFuelsResources

 

Here are some talking points to use when preparing your comments. Choose points you feel confortable talking about, and personalize with your own reasons for opposing these mines. If you have questions or want help preparing for the hearing, contact Alicyn at alicyn.gitlin@sierraclub.org or (928) 774-6514.

  • Deny these permits. These mines are all located in Grand Canyon’s watershed and threaten the water, soil, and air of the Grand Canyon ecoregion.
  • It is ADEQ’s responsibility to protect the air and water resources of this state, and to enforce the Clean Air Act and protect the citizens from pollution.
  • Uranium dust is most dangerous when ingested or inhaled. Once inside the human body, it can damage the lungs, kidneys, bones, or cause birth defects. Trucks will only be covered with tarps and can spread dust along roadways. They can also pick up contamination from the ground at the mine and shed it as they travel.

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    Northern Arizona University students protest a mine approved before they were born and shuttered until the present day.  Students demanded a public approval process that included them.  Their demands were denied by the Forest Service.

  • Ore trucks should be completely sealed – not just covered with a secure tarp.
  • 10-12 trucks per day will move through Valle, Williams, Flagstaff, Cameron, Tuba City, and much of the Navajo Nation on their way to a mill in Blanding, UT; then, empty trucks will return along the same path. Tell ADEQ how the risks associated with these mines affects your ability to enjoy your property and to feel safe on your community’s roadways and public lands. Tell them about your fear of inhaling dust or receiving a dose of radiation while sharing the roads with these vehicles. Make your testimony personal.
  • Contamination was found around the closed and reclaimed Pigeon and Hermit mines north of Grand Canyon, and soils near roads were also contaminated. Roads near the 1979 Church Rock, NM uranium mining disaster showed contamination near haul roads. There must be dust sampling along all haul roads, and communities should be prepared with emergency response plans in case of an accident causing an ore spill.
  • Uranium and arsenic have been consistently detected at elevated levels in the soils surrounding previously mined areas in northern Arizona.
  • Red Butte, adjacent to Canyon Mine, is a Traditional Cultural Property that is significant to the Havasupai, Hopi, Navajo, Zuni, and Hualapai tribes.
  • The Plan of Operations for Canyon Mine is over 30 years old and should be revised before air permits for it are issued.

    CANYON MINE 1

    10-12 trucks per day will travel from Canyon Mine, 6 miles south of Grand Canyon, through Williams, Flagtaff, Cameron, Tuba City, and much of the Navajo Nation on their way to a mill in Blanding, Utah.

  • The EZ Mine has had no federal review under the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, or National Historic Preservation Act. ADEQ should wait for these processes to be complete and before issuing an air permit.
  • Require a permit for and monitoring of the Pinenut Mine (Permit #62876) until all radioactive material has been removed and no contamination or radiation can be detected for at least a year.
  • The permittee, Energy Fuels, is responsible for monitoring dust and emissions, and self-reporting emissions that exceed legal limits. They will also self report deviations from permit requirements. An independent third party should be responsible for monitoring and reporting problems.
  • The amount of water required to suppress dust will be large in comparison to the amount of groundwater available in the region. That groundwater is important to maintain vital seeps and springs that humans and wildlife depend on.

    2012 11 21 Canyon Mine aerial 1

    Canyon Mine.

  • Radon emissions (radon-222) limitations will be calculated as a function of the number of pounds of material processed, instead of having a hard limit on the amount of radon released. ADEQ should limit the total amount of radon that the mine is allowed to release per hour. Ore processing should not be allowed to occur at a rate that causes emissions to exceed the limit.
  • Soil and radiation monitoring outside the fence will be 100 feet from the fence. Sampling should also occur closer to the fence to catch problems before they spread that far.
  • Soil sampling will only happen once per year. It should happen at least quarterly. Gamma radiation will be monitored quarterly. Outside independent monitors should perform these activities.
  • We know that soil contamination has occurred near other areas where ore and mined rock have been able to stand at uranium mines. ADEQ shouldn’t wait until contamination is found before ordering the mine to implement measures to protect the ore piles. As a condition of this permit, the mine should have to: construct wind barriers, storage silos, or a three-sided walled enclosures to protect ore piles; or, piles should be covered with tarp, plastic, or other material that is regularly checked for tears and maintained as necessary to prevent holes and abrasions.

Related:

State of Arizona Asked to Reject Permit Renewals for Uranium Mines Near Grand Canyon National Park http://www.sierraclub.org/arizona/blog/2016/08/state-arizona-asked-reject-permit-renewals-for-uranium-mines-near-grand-canyon

State of Arizona Asked to Reject Permit Renewals for Uranium Mines Near Grand Canyon National Park

For Immediate Release, August 15, 2016

Contact:

Roger Clark, Grand Canyon Trust, (928) 890-7515, rclark@grandcanyontrust.org

Sandy Bahr, Sierra Club, (602) 999-5790, sandy.bahr@sierraclub.org

Katie Davis, Center for Biological Diversity, (801) 560-2414, kdavis@biologicaldiversity.org

2012 11 21 Canyon Mine aerial 2

Aerial view of Canyon Mine, 6 miles south of Grand Canyon National Park

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.— Conservation groups today asked the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) to deny air permits for three uranium mines near Grand Canyon and to continue monitoring a mine that is no longer active. All of these mines are located within watersheds (surface and ground) that drain directly into Grand Canyon National Park and threaten water, air and other important resources of the greater Grand Canyon ecoregion, including soil, wildlife, sacred Native American sites and the health of people who are exposed to the heavy metals and radiation associated with these mines.

Grand Canyon Trust, Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity filed comments with ADEQ outlining ongoing concerns with the four uranium mines. The groups noted that in 2010, they, Coconino County Supervisor Carl Taylor and hundreds of citizens objected to issuing air permits for these mines because of unacceptable risks to residents and visitors to the Grand Canyon region. ADEQ has yet to address the substantive issues that were raised.

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Protestors ask for an end to uranium mining that risks contaminating groundwater near Grand Canyon.

Earlier this year, ADEQ suspended the permit renewal process after increased uranium levels were found in the soil near Pinenut Mine, north of Grand Canyon. Soil tests indicated that the uranium levels were four times higher than the normal background levels

“Once again we see the cumulative evidence of uranium contamination,” said Roger Clark with the Grand Canyon Trust. “When will the Grand Canyon State stop issuing permits to pollute our air and water?”

“For more than a half-century, uranium mining has permanently polluted our land, air and water. Its deadly legacy is well documented and yet state and federal agencies are still permitting new mines,” said Sandy Bahr with Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter. “Given the proximity of these mines to Grand Canyon and the history of contamination, ADEQ should give these mines the utmost scrutiny and reject these permits.”

“Uranium mining on the Colorado Plateau unleashed an unending environmental disaster that has permanently scarred the landscape and local communities,” said Katie Davis with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It is unconscionable that ADEQ would continue to sacrifice our natural heritage and the health of our fellow citizens by granting these permits.”

Background

In 2012 the Obama administration issued a “mineral withdrawal” prohibiting new mining claims and the development of claims lacking valid existing rights across 1 million acres of public land surrounding Grand Canyon National Park. Despite public protests and legal challenges from local American Indian tribes and conservation groups, federal agencies allowed several uranium mines established prior to the withdrawal, including the Canyon, AZ1, and Pinenut mines, to resume operations. All the mines are operated by Energy Fuels Resources, Inc., a company with a history of regulatory violations.

The Canyon Mine is located on the Kaibab National Forest, six miles south of Grand Canyon National Park. It is currently operating and has obtained federal permits, which are being challenged in federal court. The AZ1 and EZ mines are both located north of Grand Canyon on Bureau of Land Management lands. Operations at AZ1 are currently suspended. EZ mine is not yet operational and has not been permitted at the federal level. Though currently subject to reclamation activities, the Pinenut Mine site, located north of Grand Canyon on BLM lands, remains contaminated and continues to be a source of radioactive dust pollution.

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Learn about how you can weigh in on ADEQ’s uranium mine permits: http://www.azdeq.gov/PN/EnergyFuelsResources

Read our comments on the uranium mine permits: http://www.grandcanyontrust.org/sites/default/files/resources/gc_ADEQ_comments_8_15_16.pdf

Half Million+ People Call for Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument

Join Area Tribes, Local Electeds,

Business Leaders

550,000 signatures graphic
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 6, 2016
Contact: Carletta Tilousi,  carstilousi@yahoo.com, (480) 296-3984
Celia Barotz, cbarotz@gmail.com, (928) 853-7295
Sarah Ponticello, info@gcwatershed.org, (831) 998-2585

WASHINGTON,D.C.– Today groups announced the delivery of more than 550,000 petition signatures and comments urging President Obama to designate the proposed Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument. The supporters join a long list of those speaking out for the monument designation, including more than 20 area Tribal Nations, nearly 100 businesses, outdoor recreation and conservation groups, and local and national elected leaders. The sheer number of signatures and comments is a demonstration of the growing movement calling on President Obama to take action to protect the public lands around Grand Canyon.

Avaaz, CREDO, Center for Biological Diversity, Environment Arizona, Grand Canyon Trust, League of Conservation Voters, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Sierra Club and The Wilderness Society were among the groups participating in the delivery.

“At the national, state and local level, the American people stand behind this effort and believe in its purpose,” said Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Natural Resources. “Conserving Native American history and culture, protecting the environment and guaranteeing public access to these lands in perpetuity are each important goals. Creating the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument meets each of those goals and more. I firmly believe this administration hears the voice of the people, and I look forward to working with President Obama to protect this land once and for all.”

Photo of House Rock Valley from Kaibab Plateau: trees, canyon

“The Havasupai and tribes living near the Grand Canyon need the support of all citizens residing in the United States to support the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument Act,” said Carletta Tilousi, Havasupai Tribal council member. “Our goal is to protect the Grand Canyon from international uranium mining companies. The uranium companies have contaminated enough of our waters and lands. We need to protect what is left of the Grand Canyon by working together and protect the Canyon for all peoples to enjoy peace and tranquility of god’s land.”

“Protection of the Grand Canyon is most important to the Hopi Tribe. As stewards of the land we value and appreciate the public support for the preservation of this special place that is culturally and spiritual significant to the Hopi people,” said Herman Honanie, Hopi Tribal Chairman. “Not only has Hopi always paid homage to the Grand Canyon, it has often been referred to as one of the ‘Great Wonders of the World’. So it ought to be considered as such and so proclaiming it a national monument is in order. Further, President Theodore Roosevelt visited and viewed the Grand Canyon in 1903; he was taken by its grandeur, and stated, ‘Leave as it is.’  Today, we need to heed his words as well as those who want to see the Grand Canyon area preserved in its current state.”

Honanie continued, “We still need the public’s help to let President Obama know to designate the Grand Canyon as America’s next national monument. As the ‘Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument,’ this will ensure that this spiritual place is protected for future generations.”

“The Grand Canyon is a culturally significant area which sustains life for many tribal people and cultures,” said Shan Lewis, President, Inter Tribal Association of Arizona and Vice Chairman, Fort Mojave Indian Tribe. “It is encouraging to see the outpouring of support from across all walks of life for the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument Act. The Act will provide for the future sustainability of this living, national treasure as well as the cultures and people that call the Grand Canyon home.”

Kristen Caldon KMC_3088_gunsight.point.vert (2)

Kristen M. Caldon photo

Recognizing both the threats to the area and its cultural, natural, and economic importance, local city and county officials too have echoed the tribal leadership to safeguard the heritage of the Greater Grand Canyon area.

“The Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument proposal represents a unique opportunity to serve multiple objectives- protecting the incredible natural and cultural assets surrounding the Grand Canyon, supporting our regional economies, continuing critical forest restoration initiatives and guaranteeing multiple uses activities like hunting, ranching and traditional food gathering,” said Coconino County District 1 Supervisor Art Babbott. “District 1 encompasses much of the southern portion of the proposed monument and I strongly support the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument. This proposal, which balances conservation and existing uses, stands in sharp contrast to efforts to dispose of our irreplaceable public lands to the very wealthy and multinational mining interests whose number one priority is radically expanding uranium mining in and around the Grand Canyon.”

“I stand strongly with the more than half a million Americans, including 80 percent of Arizona’s registered voters, Flagstaff area business owners, and Arizona state and local elected officials who support the proposed Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument,” said Flagstaff Vice-Mayor Celia Barotz.  “I urge President Obama to fulfill the vision of Theodore Roosevelt when he designated the Grand Canyon National Monument in 1908.”

 

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Feds’ Decision to Increase Motorized Use on 20,000 Acres of Kaibab National Forest Raises Risks of Fire, Fragments Wildlife Habitat

Forest Road 142 Camping Corridor with damaged grasslands caused by illegal motorized play.

Forest Road 142, which is to become a camping corridor in the South Zone Travel Management Revision Project. The red line extends 300’ from road center, which is as far from roads as campers will now be allowed to park their vehicles. Illegal motorized play within and outside of the 300’ wide swath has removed grassland vegetation. Google Earth Imagery date 5/18/2014.

For Immediate Release, May 23, 2016

Contact: Katie Davis, Center for Biological Diversity, (801) 560-2414, kdavis@biologicaldiversity.org; Alicyn Gitlin, Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter, (520) 491-9528, alicyn.gitlin@sierraclub.org; Kelly Burke, Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, (928) 606-7870, kelly@wildlandsnetwork.org

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.— The U.S. Forest Service plans to open about 20,000 acres of the Kaibab National Forest to motorized vehicles, which will raise the risk of human-caused fires and fragment habitat for wildlife. Although the agency – responding to objections from environmental groups – has agreed to also exclude motorized vehicles from some sensitive areas, the overall plan raises troubling concerns about the long-term management and health of the forest.

The Forest Service, in its official response to the objection filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, and the Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, decided to move forward with a plan that would expand areas for car and RV camping along hundreds of miles of roads and open user-created and formerly closed forest roads in the so-called “South Zone” area. A final decision explaining the new rules is expected this summer.

“Based on our objection, the Forest Service decided that opening areas to motorized use near Grand Canyon National Park and designated roadless areas was not sound management, and we’re glad to see those changes in the final plan,” said Katie Davis, public lands campaigner for the Center for Biological Diversity. “But we have trouble understanding why the Forest Service continues to reward current illegal activities and encourage more traffic in hard-to- patrol areas given concerns about fire and resource damage.”

While the final decision will result in the closure of some unnecessary roads in the forest, the overall result is a rollback of previous measures designed to prevent damage to wildlife habitat and natural resources. Information the groups obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showed only a small number of requests from members of the public to reopen a few closed areas, while many of the places that will now be open for use were never mentioned in the public comments that were used to justify the final decision.

“The extent of the changes that will occur based on this decision is strikingly excessive compared to the actual needs of the public for camping and travel in the forest,” said Alicyn Gitlin, conservation coordinator with Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter. “We know that motorized, off-road use comes with serious risks to forest resources, but the Forest Service has decided to look the other way.”

In response to concerns about negative impacts to wildlife habitat and grasslands raised in the groups’ objection, the Forest Service relied on assurances that monitoring and adaptive management will address and prevent potential harm. However, no additional funding or personnel have been allocated to enforce the new plan and provide that monitoring.

“Just as we are starting to see success in efforts to prevent human-caused fires and re-establish populations of species like Gunnison’s prairie dog, the Forest Service issues a decision that will encourage more off-road use without adequate protections,” said Kelly Burke, executive director of Grand Canyon Wildlands Council. “This decision could have been designed to successfully balance conservation and recreation, but instead it’s likely to open the door to unsustainable and unmanageable use.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and supporters dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places. www.biologicaldiversity.org

Sierra Club is one of the country’s oldest grassroots environmental organization with more than 35,000 members and supporters in Arizona as part of the Grand Canyon Chapter. Protecting forests and grasslands that provide essential wildlife habitat is a key Sierra Club priority locally, nationally and internationally. Learn more at www.sierraclub.org/arizona and www.facebook.com/Sierra-Club- Grand-Canyon-Arizona-Chapter- 182816565101809/.

Grand Canyon Wildlands Council works to provide creative, collaborative, science-based solutions for conserving the full diversity of native species and natural ecosystems across the Grand Canyon region, protecting and restoring a network of wildlands and waters. www.grandcanyonwildlands.org

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New Polling Confirms Strong Support for Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument, Public Lands

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, January 11, 2016

Contact: Virginia Cramer, Sierra Club, 804-519-8449, Virginia.cramer@sierraclub.org

Kelly Burke, Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, 928-606-7870, Kelly@grandcanyonwildlands.com

Katie Davis, Center for Biological Diversity, 801- 560-2414, kdavis@biologicaldiversity.org

CC Poll_Grand Canyon proposal

PHOENIX, AZ– At an event with former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project today released the results from its 2016 Conservation in the West poll. The findings clearly illustrate the importance of public lands to people living in the West. Within Arizona, the poll found strong support (73%) for a proposal to designate the public lands surrounding the Grand Canyon as a Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument. Further, the findings reveal a desire by Arizonans for future presidents to continue the country’s conservation legacy by protecting existing public lands as national monuments (84% support). Bolstering this opinion is the belief by 73% of Arizonans that national public lands, including national monuments, help the economy.

Late last year Congressman Grijalva and tribal leaders from across Northern Arizona announced support for a Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument, reflecting the long history and deep cultural roots of the region.

 In response, members of the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage Coalition issued the following statements.

 “The Greater Grand Canyon is crucial habitat for California condors, mountain lions, and a host of other wildlife,” said Kim Crumbo, conservation director for Grand Canyon Wildlands Council. “Designation of the area as a new national monument would protect and restore safe passageways for mule deer and other wildlife from Grand Canyon National Park to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.”

“At every opportunity, residents of Arizona have expressed strong support for permanent protection for the greater Grand Canyon region – now it’s time for action,” said Katie Davis, public lands campaigner for the Center for Biological Diversity. “We stand with the public and tribal communities in calling on President Obama to permanently protect this precious landscape.”

“It is not surprising that Arizonans are strongly supportive of safeguarding public lands around Grand Canyon,” said Sandy Bahr, chapter director for the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter. “Protecting the communities, wildlands and wildlife in and around Grand Canyon from uranium mining has long been a priority for people across the state and throughout the country. A national monument is an important next step to safeguard this valuable region.”

Learn more about the proposed Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument at www.greatergrandcanyon.org.

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TAKE ACTION HERE TO PROTECT LANDS AROUND GRAND CANYON AS A NEW NATIONAL MONUMENT.

 

 

 

 

Grijalva Joins Tribes Monday in Flagstaff to Unveil Bill Creating Grand Canyon National Monument Honoring Tribal History, Culture

October 9, 2015

Media Contact: Adam Sarvana

(202) 225-6065 or (202) 578-6626

Grijalva Joins Tribes Monday in Flagstaff to Unveil Bill Creating Grand Canyon National Monument Honoring Tribal History, Culture

Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva and tribal leaders from across Northern Arizona will hold a press conference Monday at 2:00 p.m. Arizona time in Flagstaff to introduce the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument Act, a bill establishing a new national monument that reflects the long history and deep cultural roots of the region’s Native American tribes.

The event will feature speakers from the Havasupai, Hualapai, Navajo and Hopi communities supportive of the national monument. The bill represents the next step in the tribal-led effort to protect the Grand Canyon watershed and surrounding area.

Grijalva’s bill permanently protects the Grand Canyon from new uranium mining claims; protects tribal sacred cultural sites; promotes a more collaborative regional approach between tribal nations and federal land managers; protects commercial and recreational hunting; preserves grazing and water rights; and conserves the Grand Canyon watershed.

Grijalva has led the effort to protect the Grand Canyon from new uranium mining claims for years and was instrumental in then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s 20-year withdrawal announcement in 2012.

Event Details

What: Press conference announcing the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument Act

When: Monday, Oct. 12, at 2:00 p.m. Arizona time

Where: Museum of Northern Arizona, 3101 N Ft. Valley Rd. in Flagstaff

Who: Ranking Member Grijalva and members of the Havasupai, Hualapai, Navajo and Hopi tribes

For more information about event details, contact Brandon Bragato at the Natural Resources Committee at brandon.bragato@mail.house.gov.

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Former Arizona Game and Fish Commissioners Call on President to Protect Lands Around Grand Canyon as a National Monument

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 28, 2015

Contact:  Sandy Bahr, Sierra Club, (602) 253-8633, sandy.bahr@sierraclub.org  

Mule deer. Scott Sprague photo.

Mule deer.

Phoenix, AZ – Today, five former Arizona Game and Fish Commissioners, sent a letter to President Obama supporting the creation of the Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument.

The former commissioners stated how important protection of habitat and our public lands is to ensuring that there are healthy populations of wildlife throughout Arizona and also how important these lands are for the array of recreational opportunities they provide, including hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing.

“Protecting the national forests and Bureau of Land Management lands around Grand Canyon National Park will help limit fragmentation of this important wildlife habitat,” said Bob Hernbrode, former Arizona Game and Fish Commissioner (2005-2010). “Part of the monument proposal includes protection of the Kaibab-Paunsagunt Wildlife Corridor which allows for migration of mule deer from the higher elevations in Utah to the lower elevations in Arizona. The North Kaibab is known as a premiere wildlife area for hunters and non-hunters alike.”

Under the proposed monument, the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management will continue to manage the lands, but will prioritize restoring and conserving wildlife habitat and corridors. The Arizona Game and Fish Department will continue the primary role relative to wildlife management.

In the letter, commissioners stated:

“We ask that you  further President Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy of permanently  conserving lands around Grand Canyon, by protecting old growth forests, keeping uranium mining from contaminating the waters of the region, and protecting those critical wildlife corridors both north and south of Grand Canyon.

Together, we can ensure that future generations are able to enjoy the amazing outdoor experience in Grand Canyon’s watershed.”

Background

The proposed Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument is a magnificent landscape made up of public lands surrounding Grand Canyon. The area’s rugged cliffs, pine forests, deep canyons and grasslands protect and provide clean drinking water for this parched region and for millions of people downstream who depend on the Colorado River, in Arizona, Nevada and California.

At the heart of the Grand Canyon Watershed, the Kaibab Plateau is home to a wealth of wildlife, including an internationally renowned mule deer herd and the Kaibab squirrel, which is found nowhere else in the world.

This area contains more than 3,000 documented ancient Native American archaeological sites, some dating back more than 12,000 years, and more than 125 creeks, springs, and seeps.

This area hosts a broad range of outdoor activities, including hunting and wildlife viewing. These and other outdoor activities in Arizona generate $787 million in state and local revenues and create more than 100,000 jobs.

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