Arizona Tribal Nations, lawmakers want new Grand Canyon national monument
(Arizona News Connection) President Joe Biden has designated new national monuments in Nevada and Texas - and some in Arizona say it is time to do the same for the Grand Canyon region. Just last month, U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland met with politicians, community leaders and members of the Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition. They are urging the president to protect 1.1 million
acres of the Grand Canyon region and watershed, using the Antiquities Act to make it a national monument. The area is home to cultural sites of at least 12 tribes and nations.
Sandy Bahr, Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter Director, said this would allow a layer of protection that prohibits mineral activity.
"The impetus for this national monument is to protect that region from uranium mining, to protect the watershed, and protect the groundwater in the region," Bahr explained.
Bahr added the designation would also help protect wildlife corridors and threatened or endangered species, including the California condor, Mexican spotted owl and the Fickeisen plains cactus.
The proposed national monument would surround Grand Canyon National Park. The request for the designation comes at what some are calling a pivotal moment in the Biden administration's commitment to prioritizing relationships with Tribal Nations. Bahr said beyond the support from Native American communities, local governments are also pushing for the recognition.
"Flagstaff just passed a resolution supporting it. Coconino County has passed a resolution supporting it," she said. "There's a lot of support and building for this and so, I think it makes me optimistic."
But there have been calls since 2008 to permanently protect the adjacent land to the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition is currently collecting signatures for its petition.