Coconino Voices: The Grand Canyon needs our help |


Grand Canyon National Park and its surroundings are home to some of the world’s natural treasures. As one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Grand Canyon National Park spans over 1,000,000 acres and is home to the Colorado River, eight National Historic Sites, and 11 federally recognized Native American tribes.

The Grand Canyon is threatened by harmful uranium mining which poses health and safety risks to the indigenous peoples who inhabit the Canyon. Uranium mining also poses a risk to the quality and quantity of groundwater and fragile streams and springs.

In 2012, then-President Obama, in recognition of the serious threat created by mining, imposed a temporary ban on uranium mining on or near the Grand Canyon. This temporary ban is about to expire. Consequently, Arizona Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly introduced the Grand Canyon Protection Act (GCPA), which maintains the current ban on uranium mining in or near Grand Canyon National Park, which prohibits in ongoing uranium mining.

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The passage of the GCPA protects this critical watershed for those who live, work and play in and near the Grand Canyon and reduces the risk of contamination of water resources and water supplies.

As a county supervisor and longtime resident of Coconino County, I have also witnessed the consequences of uranium contamination and the health and safety risks it poses. On the Navajo Nation alone, there are over 500 abandoned uranium mines that have not been cleaned up or mitigated. This environmental and public health threat to one of the world’s greatest treasures must not continue and the protection of the Grand Canyon is best served by the rapid passage of the GCPA.

I want to thank Senators Sinema and Kelly for their sponsorship of the Grand Canyon Protection Act (GCPA) and I am pleased that the GCPA was recently heard in a Senate hearing. I urge others to call, email or write your senators today and demand passage of the GCRA. It is imperative that this important bill pass this session of Congress.

Patrice Horstman is chairman of the Coconino County Board of Supervisors.

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