Supporters Push Heritage Monument Status in Grand Canyon Area
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - A new poll shows strong support for creating a new national monument to protect the Grand Canyon watershed and honor the region's Native American history and culture.
Despite some opposition, said U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., who proposed creation of the "Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument," a poll released by supporters Thursday showed that more than 80 percent of Arizona voters back the plan.
"They see the Grand Canyon as not only the crown jewel of our park system but as a touchstone and as a symbol of the state of Arizona," Grijalva said. "And as such, the numbers in the poll indicate across demographics, across political lines, that support is strong and persistent - and overwhelming."
The monument would protect 1.7 million acres surrounding Grand Canyon National Park from new uranium mining while preserving opportunities for hunting, grazing and recreation. A group of current and former state wildlife officials, among others, opposes the plan, saying it would deprive both the state and private landowners use of their land.
A number of Native American tribes are backing the proposal. Herman Honanie, chairman of the Hopi Tribal Council, said his people trace their origins to the Grand Canyon region, making it sacred and in need of greater protection.
"The Grand Canyon is a place of birth to the Hopi Tribe, to the Hopi people, to the clans," he said, "and our emergence is situated at the bottom of the Grand Canyon."
With a gridlocked Congress unlikely to act any time soon, backers of the project are encouraging President Obama to use his executive authority to designate a national monument, as he did last week for three areas in southern California.
The poll results are online at grandcanyontrust.org.