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President Rejects Grand Canyon Monument Proposal

President Obama decided Dec. 6 not to grant monument status to a large parcel of land adjacent to Grand Canyon National Park, a move that would have made permanent the administration’s temporary ban on uranium mining

The land near the Grand Canyon is rich in uranium. 

The Havasupai Tribe who live in the Grand Canyon fear uranium mining would contaminate their drinking water and the Colorado River downstream. Council member Carletta Tilousi says the Havasupai are on the verge of extinction.

“I’m here to say that the tribe is in the front lines of groundwater contamination right now,” Tilousi said at a monument press event.

Mining companies say modern practices contain the uranium ore. But as recently as 2010 government scientists found contamination that exceeds drinking water standards in nearby wells and springs. 

“The area hosts hundreds and hundreds of seeps, springs and natural water sources that all flow and connect directly down into Grand Canyon and the Colorado River and directly feeds into drinking water sources of the Havasupai Tribe,” said Kelly Burke is the executive director of the Grand Canyon Wildlands Council.

Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva says he’ll push for Congress to grant monument status to the land.

Laurel Morales was a Fronteras Desk reporter in Flagstaff from 2011 to 2020.