Our Treasure, Our Future – Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument

National Monuments Review Sample Comment Scripts for the Savvy Citizen.

Protect Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument

ACTION ALERT: public comment period open for Interior Department’s National Monuments Review–Submit Comments before July 10, 2017. Click here to submit:  Review of Certain National Monuments Established Since 1996

The following is a sample comment script. Please do not cut and paste!  Edit the script to make it your own and add personal commentary.  These scripts are designed to inform and are for inspiration and ideas! For ideas on how to write a strong submission, click here: “Suggested Outline or “Hot Topic” Review List for Comments.” 

Protect Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument– Sample Script by Guest Contributor J.C. for Wednesday, June 21, 2017:

I am writing to express my strong support for Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument (GCPNM). This monument protects the remote but vital desert area of the Arizona Strip – the mostly untouched land between the north rim of the Grand Canyon and the Utah border, roughly south of Zion National Park. Significant features of the park include Mt Trumbull, one of the most remote desert mountains in the United States. The monument borders the Toroweap Overlook within Grand Canyon National Park, where you can sit, lost in wonder while dangling your legs over a 3,000 foot vertical drop to the Colorado River.

The Grand Canyon does not start or end at the lip of its canyon rim as defined by the national park boundary. Parashant National Monument completes Grand Canyon National Park by including protection for this truly wild part of the larger Grand Canyon ecosystem, an area that should have been included in the original national park. That we, as a country, still have this land, as open, wild and unspoiled as it was when it was roamed solely by native Americans centuries ago is nothing short of amazing. This is our heritage, an antiquities that we need to protect for our future generations.

The Koch Brothers have called establishment of GCPNM “overreach”. But if billionaire businessmen and conservative politicians had their way Grand Canyon National Park would be just another lake, like Lake Powell upstream and Lake Havasu downstream. Believe me, they’ve tried. We are so fortunate that real leaders with true vision and foresight like President Teddy Roosevelt and the many who followed realized that preserving land, land like GCPNM, is protecting a resource every bit as valuable as coal or any other mineral that could be extracted from it.

The Koch brothers do not own our country.  We do – the American public. We recognize that our wild public lands are a critical resource that far exceeds the value of short term energy extraction that would pollute and destroy this park forever. Uranium mining on the south rim of the Grand Canyon is already threatening groundwater that flows into the park. The desire to mine uranium also threatens GCPNM. This is unnecessary, will spoil the wild nature of GCPNM, and will risk contaminating soil and groundwater here as well. Yes, this is a desert area and yes, there is groundwater that flows from here into the Grand Canyon. And yes, uranium mining presents a real risk – the idea that industry self-regulates and will prevent damage through mishandling of its waste materials is laughable. Why else is the administration working feverishly to dismantle our regulatory agencies like EPA?

Tourism in Utah brings in over $1.6 billion annually. Visit the southern Utah National Parks, Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Arches – I hope you have a reservation. They are bursting at their seams. Establishment of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Bears Ears has increased interest in and travel to Southern Utah. But people and companies that bring business and dollars to this region are not coming to see mining operations. They are coming to see the wild lands that we have kept intact. If anything these recently designated monuments are too small. If the states where these monuments reside had any business sense they would be arguing for expansion of these park areas. But our current leaders seem focused on a small minded vision for immediate monetary exploitation of our land with no thought to our future.

The states (any state) cannot afford the long term land protection that our forefathers envisioned through the Antiquities Act. The state of Utah is busy selling off state land for quick income.  Once each sale is over, the money placed in various pockets and spent, what’s left? Long term employment? Only until the area is mined as quickly as possible, the resource is gone, or the price of the extracted energy drops. Coal mines are closing because they can’t compete with natural gas. Our US Government has the proven ability, and can continue to protect our lands. If we allow it to do its job.

The new administration and this review of our legally designated National Monuments puts us, for no good reason at a crossroads. Do we allow billionaires to push us to a short term exploitation of our wild lands for “energy at all costs” exploitation or do you, Secretary Zinke and the US Department of Interior, listen to us, the American people? We are overwhelmingly demanding continued protection of our National Monuments. We Demand that the department of Interior continue to respect and protect Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument as it was legally designated under the Antiquities Act!

BACKGROUND by the Author

I did not know where Parashant National Monument was when I started this writing project. Then I realized I got lost there with a friend back in the late 1970s. We wanted to visit the Toroweap overlook – that place where you can look 3,000 feet straight down to the Colorado River. But it was too much bother to go the normal way, driving all the way from Cedar City to Kanab. The main route was a well traveled dirt road,  some sixty miles to the canyon rim. Boring, we thought. We talked to some locals in St George who told us about a shorter route and where to turn off the highway just south of town. We headed off in an ancient  International pickup with some extra gas and a Utah State highway map.

Back then there was no monument, just an expanse of lovely desert between us and the Grand Canyon. This was decades before cell phones and gps. Our map was this side of useless and we bumped down endless miles of rocky dirt road, crossing gullies, topping out on ridges and guessing at the turns we needed to take.

The trip should have taken only a few hours but as the sun started to set we pulled off, making camp beside the road. We were nowhere but had a perfect campsite. No one around, we’d seen no one else all day. We had an endless view of rolling desert – hills, cliffs and canyons. Mt. Turnbull, our guiding north star lit up with a typically spectacular sunset. I remember thinking I had never been this far away from civilization in a car. I asked my friend  how the gas was holding out, thinking that we’d need enough to make our way back out. I dreamed of empty gas cans and a long hike in the hot sun.

The next day our guesses were rewarded and we pulled into the Toroweap Ranger Station early in the afternoon. As we pulled into the campground  one of the truck’s tires went flat. Great timing, let’s get out the spare. My friend looked gray. There was no spare. Instead we met the ranger, a Mr John Riffey. We had not heard of him, but this man was a living legend, someone who deserves to have books written about him (I’ve included an article below. Well worth the read for more information about the man and the land he lived in and loved). Mr Riffey entertained us for a couple of hours with stories about living with the Grand Canyon and the land now known as GCPNM. Then he drove us to town – over a120 miles round – trip (on the fast, boring main road – a dirt freeway) and bought us dinner. The next day we fixed the tire, wandered along the stunning drop into the canyon and then up the boring main road home.

I think back on that trip as a visit to a magical place. I hope someday I can return. (J.C.)

LINKS:

NPS – https://www.nps.gov/para/index.htm

Mt. Trumbull Wilderness – http://www.summitpost.org/mount-trumbull/154115

Torroweap overlook – https://www.hitthetrail.com/toroweap-tuweep/

Ranger John Riffey – https://www.si.com/vault/1985/07/29/620938/ranger-john-riffey-stayed-faithful-to-the-land-he-loved-for-38-years

NPS Budgets Are Dropping and Parks Deal with Crowds – http://www.thespectrum.com/story/news/2017/05/28/zion-national-park-visitation-budget/347428001/

Childs, Greg. (2000) The Secret Knowledge of Water. (This is a wonderful book on an exploration of water all over our wild desert southwest. Includes a story of scaling  the canyon walls to climb inside of a waterfall jetting out of the face of a cliff. An amazing story. The water feeding this falls is the water that could become contaminated from uranium mining up above the canyon).
http://www.houseofrain.com/bookdetail.cfm?id=1183863164364

Uranium Mining Grand Canyon – http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-best-reads/2017/03/08/uranium-mining-near-grand-canyon-safe-answer-may-water/98816536/

Citizens tell Kanab City Council NO on resolution to shrink the Monument – http://www.sunews.net/article.cfm?articleID=2135

Uranium Mining Is Coming To The Grand Canyon, If Koch-Backed Group Gets Its Way – https://www.google.com/amp/s/thinkprogress.org/sir/2010/5025/

Uranium Mining Grand Canyon:

Economics of Outdoor Recreation Industry:

 

Photo – February’s #nationalconservationlands, BLM Winter Bucket List, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument in Arizona for Its Dark Sky Park Status

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