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Groups Praise Decision to Leave Grand Canyon Parashant Alone

Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument's pristine cliffs are notable for their fossils and human relics. (Bureau of Land Management)
Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument's pristine cliffs are notable for their fossils and human relics. (Bureau of Land Management)
August 7, 2017

PHOENIX -- People who prize Arizona's public lands are breathing a sigh of relief that Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument is off the chopping block - after the feds announced Friday that no changes will be made.

There are 26 national monuments under review, and many feared Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke would recommend that Grand Canyon Parashant be downsized, as he did with Bear's Ears Monument in Utah. Mike Quigley, state director for The Wilderness Society in Arizona, said he's relieved at the decision but worries about the fate of the remaining monuments.

"Unfortunately, there are other monuments in Arizona including Vermilion Cliffs, Sonoran Desert and Ironwood Forest National Monuments and others across the country that are equally deserving of such protection and still at risk,” Quigley said.

In late April, President Donald Trump ordered a review of all national monuments of more than 1 million acres that were created since 1996, with an eye to protecting the smallest area possible. Opponents worry that any lands taken from the monuments could be opened up for ranching, logging or oil and gas development.

Millions of Americans expressed their support for the monuments during the public comment period that ended in July. Quigley criticized the review process as too opaque, and said he hopes all the remaining monuments will be left untouched.

"The sooner this exercise concludes with the realization that protected public lands and national monuments should be expanded, not reduced or eliminated, the better,” he said.

Zinke's report assessing all of the monuments is due on August 24.

Suzanne Potter/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - AZ