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Bill Proposed to Create National Monument Near Grand Canyon

Bison in the Kaibab National Forest, part of the proposed Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument. Credit: Michele Vacchiano/iStock
Bison in the Kaibab National Forest, part of the proposed Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument. Credit: Michele Vacchiano/iStock
October 13, 2015

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - One-point-seven million acres adjoining the Grand Canyon's north and south rims would become part of a new national monument if a bill, announced Monday, becomes law.

Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and leaders from 11 Native American tribes gathered in Flagstaff to announce the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument Act, which will be filed in the U.S. House of Representatives next week. Grijalva says the area surrounding the national park needs to be protected.

"The Grand Canyon is under threat from a variety of areas, be it climate, be it the depletion of water, many extraction activities that shouldn't be near the rim of the Grand Canyon," says Grijalva. "This begins to preserve and in some areas restore the greatness of the Grand Canyon."

In 2012, then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar banned new mining claims for 20 years. This bill would make those protections permanent.

Grijalva says the bill protects private property, grazing rights, existing mining claims and hunting, ensures government and tribal control of wild land firefighting efforts, allows all-terrain vehicles on designated trails and makes sure existing water rights and related lawsuits are unaffected.

"And key to it, we protect and preserve Native American sacred sites," he says. "And access to spiritual and medicinal gathering activities."

Grijalva and several other Democratic legislators also have asked President Obama to use his powers under the Antiquities Act to simply declare the national monument in the event that Congress fails to act.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - AZ