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Friday, November 06, 2009

Almost 100,000 Citizens Express Support for Protecting Grand Canyon from Uranium Mining


As of the end of the public comment period this week, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar received input from 98,285 citizens supporting his proposal to protect the lands around Grand Canyon National Park from mining. The move would protect nearly one million acres from new mining claims for up to 20 years, the longest duration possible under current law, according to a statement released today by Environment New Mexico. The administration will take two years from the date of the proposal to decide whether to implement the withdrawal, during which time no new mining claims can be placed on the land.

“It is clear that Americans understand the value of this beautiful landscape and don’t want to see it destroyed,” said Kim McMurray of Environment New Mexico. “More mining would ruin the experience of families who travel from across the country expecting to see the grandeur of the canyon, not an industrial wasteland. If we fail to protect the Grand Canyon, the ghost of mining will haunt the land for centuries.” McMurray added.

In addition to the 98,285 individual comments, 34 groups submitted a joint letter of support for protection of the canyon from mining, and a coalition of organizations has been urging members of the U.S. House to cosponsor H.R. 644, the Grand Canyon Watersheds Protection Act, a bill that would permanently protect more than one million acres of land around the Grand Canyon from mining. The bill currently has 40 cosponsors.

The landscape is not the only thing at stake. The Colorado River, which runs through the Grand Canyon, provides drinking water for 25 million Americans living as far west as Los Angeles. Furthermore, the canyon and the surrounding areas are home to a rich diversity of plant and animal life, including 25 threatened and endangered animal species. The visible strata in the canyon walls also provide one of the most complete records of geological history in the world.

Due to the rising price of gold and uranium, the number of hardrock mining claims across the West has increased exponentially in recent years. As of January 2009, there were about 8,500 mining claims in the area near the Grand Canyon proposed for withdrawal. This is up from about 100 claims in January of 2003. Most, if not all, of these claims are for uranium and 1,100 of the claims are within five miles of the canyon.

“The Grand Canyon is a timeless national treasure. Its jagged red cliffs and winding Colorado River offer recreational opportunities for visitors that range from hiking and rock climbing to camping and river rafting,” said McMurray. “Mining so close to the Grand Canyon could wreak havoc on the landscape and release toxic chemicals into the drinking water supply for millions of Americans,” McMurray concluded.

November 6, 2009 at 02:29 PM in Environment, Land Issues, Mining, Uranium, Water Issues | Permalink


Hi Barb. I hate to quibble, but how is 98,285 nearly 1 million? It is nearly 100,000, yes, but is about 1/10th of 1 million... Unless you are counting the membership of the other groups who supported the bill? I think the action to reduce mining near the Grand Canyon is a great thing, just wondering about the accuracy of your headline... Regards, Tom S.

Posted by: Tom Solomon | Nov 7, 2009 8:19:24 AM

You have a perfect right to quibble. I don't know what got into me. Perhaps I was feeling overly ebullient about the number of people who commented. Maybe I didn't have enough caffeine. For whatever reason, I mistyped the number. Thanks for the heads up. I made the correction!

Posted by: barb | Nov 7, 2009 9:02:50 AM

Or maybe you just got carried away by watching Fox news... I heard that there were over a trillion citizens who showed up at the capitol steps this week to greet Michelle Bachman!

Posted by: Tom Solomon | Nov 7, 2009 9:44:46 AM

That must be it! It's catching! Seriously, there's so much info going through my head at any given time that I can lose my way. Thankfully, I have helpful readers who catch my flubs and kindly let me know.

Posted by: barb | Nov 7, 2009 10:06:55 AM