US Reps: Grand Canyon Monument Would Protect Watershed

By Laurel Morales
January 29, 2015
Laurel Morales
The Kaibab and Coconino Plateaus contain seaps and springs that environmental groups say need protection.

Three Arizona Congress members have written a letter to President Barack Obama calling for the establishment of what they’re calling the Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument.

U.S. Representatives Ann Kirkpatrick, Raul Grijalva and Ruben Gallego — all Democrats — have asked the president to protect the land surrounding the Grand Canyon from potential threats like uranium mining, logging and damage to archeological sites.

They’re concerned about mining’s impacts on the Colorado River, which provides water for millions of people in the Southwest.

Four years ago the Obama administration temporarily banned mining on a million acres of land surrounding Grand Canyon National Park for 20 years. Creating a monument would make that ban more permanent.

Kirkpatrick’s spokeswoman Jennifer Johnson says the size and the scope of the monument still need to be worked out with tribes, the administration and environmental groups.

A group of environmentalists has proposed a 1.7 million acre monument. Johnson did not know yet whether it would include areas proposed for tourism and residential development.