National, Local Sportsmen's Organizations Unite in Call for Grand Canyon Protections from Uranium Mining

Friday, July 15, 2011
 

Multiple local and national sportsmen's organizations today sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, thanking him for upholding the temporary moratorium on new uranium mining on public lands around Grand Canyon National Park, and requesting him to extend the ban to 20 years when his agency's analysis is completed this fall. The letter comes just as Congress is considering legislation that would overturn the moratorium.

"Wildlife, fisheries and the water that supports us are not partisan issues," the group letter states. "Uranium mining near Grand Canyon National Park is wholly unacceptable given the best science available and the potential impacts not only to our natural resources but to the economy of Northern Arizona and the communities that drink Colorado River water."

The Arizona Council of Trout Unlimited, Arizona Antelope Foundation, Arizona Deer Association, Arizona Wildlife Federation, Yuma Valley Rod and Gun Club, Arizona Elk Society, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, and Anglers United Inc. signed the letter. The organizations cited the risk of contamination to water supplies for people and wildlife, and warned that mining operations near Grand Canyon would fragment habitat for big game, including mule deer: "one of the most famous and studied deer herds in the world."

In response to concerns from sportsmen and 300,00 public comments, Secretary Salazar in June extended the temporary moratorium on new uranium mining through the end of December, while the Bureau of Land Management completes a study of the issue. The final Environmental Impact Statement is expected to be published in the fall.

In the meantime, the U.S. House of Representatives has included a provision (Sec. 445) in the fiscal year 2012 funding bill that would prevent the Secretary of the Interior from protecting 1 million acres around Grand Canyon National Park from new uranium mining. The House will vote on the bill before the end of July. 

Contact: Ben Alteneder, balteneder@azwildlife.org