Rivers in the Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is under threat of an unprecedented level of development. Sign the petition to oppose these destructive projects.
Our nation’s natural cathedral is under siege.
Author Kevin Fedarko wrote in Sunday’s New York Times about two major development threats that would devastate the canyon’s wild nature and utterly unique visitor experience. In the story, Bob Irvin, President of American Rivers, calls the projects a “sacrilege” that would harm a national treasure, a wild place essential to our identity as Americans.
Two years ago, I stood at the confluence of the Colorado River and the turquoise blue Little Colorado, where developers have proposed the “Grand Canyon Escalade Project” — featuring a gondola system to ferry thousands of tourists a day from the canyon rim down to the river’s edge, as well as a restaurant, elevated walkway, and an amphitheater. It’s hard to imagine the noise and scars the project would bring to this peaceful place considered sacred by many in the Hopi, Zuni, and Navajo tribes.
Developers argue that the project will create more access to the canyon. But as Bob Irvin points out in the Times, there’s already plenty of access for all ages, abilities, and interests, and if we allow this and other developments, we risk killing the very qualities that draw people to the canyon to begin with.
“We have multiple ways for people of all ability levels to experience the canyon, whether it’s taking a slow trip on the river, riding one of the burros, hiking the trails, or even flights or helicopters, ” said Bob Irvin, president of the conservation group American Rivers. “But if we start building gondolas and other forms of development, we lose much of what makes the Grand Canyon so special. It would be a devastation, a sacrilege, to build that structure there.”
The Grand Canyon is a national treasure, and it is the engine of the local economy. Community and tribal leaders have a legitimate interest in exploring the economic opportunities that this remarkable resource offers. In fact, gateway communities around the canyon already take in five hundred million tourist dollars annually.
But the world is full of sad examples of natural wonders and cultural treasures despoiled when tourism and development interests go too far. Thus, climbers summiting Mt. Everest find garbage dumps, travelers on safari in the Serengeti encounter traffic jams, and visitors to the Manassas Battlefield find houses and businesses encroaching.
What’s the value of keeping a wild place like Grand Canyon wild? As it turns out, it’s tremendous. And, of course, there are some things we can’t put a price tag on, and they’re often the most important. That is why it is so vital to stop these over-the-top projects. As Kevin Fedarko writes,
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