Albuquerque business and community leaders join nationwide effort to permanently protect the Grand Canyon from toxic mining
November 29, 2016
Albuquerque, NM– Albuquerque business and community leaders joined a nationwide campaign urging President Obama to permanently protect America’s most iconic national park — the Grand Canyon— from toxic uranium mining on public lands surrounding the park.
In New Mexico, over 100 local businesses have signed on to a letter calling on the president to create the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument before he leaves office.
“The Grand Canyon is one of the most amazing places on earth, and it’s part of what makes America so special,” said Hannah Perkins, an organizer with Environment NM. “But without action to stop it, toxic uranium mining could ruin the area for future generations.”
The proposed monument, supported by nearly one million Americans, would prevent new mining and logging on 1.7 million acres of public land surrounding the national park. The land provides protection to the Colorado River and its watershed, which supplies drinking water to more than 25 million people downstream.
The area is home to North America’s largest old growth ponderosa pine forest and dozens of unique and endangered wildlife, from bighorn sheep to the California condor. It also hosts thousands of ancient Native American archeological sites dating back millennia.
“If we maintain these treasures then they do generate economic and business opportunities and provide solid livelihoods right now…It is their existence that creates the bounty,” said John Mauldin, speaking to the economic side of things. Mauldin is the owner of Outdoor Regear. a consignment outdoor gear shop and one of the local businesses calling for the creation of this monument.
Judy Calman from the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance also spoke about the work they do to protect public lands in New Mexico and how that relates to protecting the Grand Canyon.
Grand Canyon National Park is one of the nation’s most visited parks, drawing 5.5 million people each year for hiking, paddling and more, sustaining thousands of jobs and generating $300 million in economic activity.
Mining isn’t currently allowed within the park itself, and new mines are currently prevented under a 20-year moratorium issued by the Obama administration in 2012.
But as the price of uranium has climbed, companies are pushing for the moratorium to be lifted. One company, Energy Fuels, Inc. has begun to reopen a mine, the Canyon Mine, not covered by the moratorium, just six miles from the park’s popular South Rim.
Old mines around and inside the national park have left water contamination that lingers to this day, and new mining could further harm the Colorado River, which provides drinking water to more than 25 million people downstream.
“This year, we are celebrating the 100th birthday of our national parks, and there’s no better time to protect this great American icon,” said Perkins. “In Albuquerque, we’ve seen how hundreds of people and dozens of small business leaders want President Obama to protect the Grand Canyon forever.”
Environment NM is a statewide, citizen-funded advocacy group working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future.