Sportsmen seek permanent solution to protecting lands surrounding Grand Canyon 

Mon, 03/04/2019


February 23, 2019 



Nathan Rees, Trout Unlimited 



Sportsmen seek permanent solution to protecting lands surrounding Grand Canyon 

Rep. Grijalva’s legislation would limit future uranium mines 


Grand Canyon, Ariz. -- Arizona Representative Raúl Grijalva announced today a legislative solution that would protect lands immediately surrounding Grand Canyon National Park from the impacts of proposed uranium mining. 

The legislation would make permanent a mineral withdrawal put in place in 2012 which puts a halt on new mining claims on about one million acres of lands north and south of the Grand Canyon. Verified existing claims would be grandfathered in under the proposal and lands would remain multiple use. 

“We’ve seen the impacts from irresponsible mining not just in Arizona, but across the West. Uranium mining can have particularly detrimental impacts,” said Nathan Rees, Arizona field coordinator for Trout Unlimited. “Why would we put one of our most iconic places at risk of being irreparably harmed? These lands are all connected. Fish and wildlife don’t recognize boundaries, nor does water and one bad decision can impact them all. Arizonans are unquestionably in favor of doing more to protect this landscape and sportsmen are ready to help make this legislation a reality.” 

The Grand Canyon and surrounding lands are a primary driver of the local economy, bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars to the state each year.  Grand Canyon National Park itself supports 12,000 jobs and fuels $680 million into northern Arizona’s local economies every year. Outdoor recreation in northern Arizona provides 18,000 jobs and contributes $160 million in state and local taxes. Hunting, fishing, and wildlife watching in Arizona contribute $2.2 billion to the state economy annually.

“People depend on our recreation economy to make a living,” Rees said. “This solution helps guarantee that lands remain healthy, ensuring the sustainability of our local economy.” 

Taxpayers are still footing the bill for the cleanup associated with historic uranium mining in the area – a cleanup that has cost billions and has had devastating health consequences.  The estimated minimum cost of uranium mine cleanup in Northern Arizona is nearly $2 billion. That clean up is far from finished.  

Across the west the Department of Energy estimated in 2000 it had spent $1.5 billion of taxpayers money toward uranium mill cleanup efforts since 1978. That figure actually exceeds what the uranium extracted from U.S. mines was sold for by more than 50 percent.

“We are grateful for the leadership Rep. Grijalva has shown in taking on this important issue,” said Brad Powell, director for the Southwest Region of TU’s Sportsmen’s Conservation Project. “This legislation is simply common sense for Arizona and for a country who has loved this canyon for generations.” 


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