Arlington, Va. — Trout Unlimited (TU) welcomed Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar’s announcement this week that the Interior Department will protect 1 million acres of federal lands near Grand Canyon National Park from new hard rock mining while it completes its review process to determine the area’s long-term management.
“This announcement will protect water quality and fish habitat from the harmful effects of new mining while the Department of the Interior determines its long-term management plan for the Grand Canyon area,” said TU Director of Government Affairs Keith Curley. “We hope this is the first step toward a long-term mineral withdrawal plan that will protect one of America’s most spectacular wild places for decades to come.”
The Department of the Interior is currently considering a 20-year withdrawal of approximately 1,010,776 acres of federal mineral estate in northern Arizona from the location and entry of new mining claims under the General Mining Law of 1872.
“The West is plagued by abandoned mines that degrade water quality in 40 percent of mountain streams,” said Curley. “TU is working to restore waters damaged by hard rock mining in Colorado, Idaho, Montana and elsewhere, but the work is costly and will take generations to complete. The best thing we can do for places like the Grand Canyon is prevent them from being damaged in the first place.”
Past mining activities have already impacted streams in and around the Grand Canyon. Abandoned mine operations within the boundary of Grand Canyon National Park continue to pollute Horn Creek, and in 1984 flash flooding carried tons of uranium ore from six existing mines north of Grand Canyon National Park down Kanab Creek and into the Park, polluting tributaries of the Colorado River.
TU thanks Secretary Salazar for announcing interim protections for the Grand Canyon, and urges the Department of the Interior to proceed with a 20-year withdrawal of approximately 1,010,776 acres of federal mineral estate in northern Arizona from the location and entry of new mining claims under the General Mining Law of 1872. By doing so, the Department of the Interior can safeguard one of America’s natural treasures, the Grand Canyon, and sustain its fish, wildlife and water resources for future generations.
Trout Unlimited (www.tu.org) is the nation’s largest coldwater conservation organization, with 140,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting, and restoring North America’s trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds.
Keith Curley, Director of Government Affairs, 703-284-9428