More than 100 years ago President Theodore Roosevelt designated the Grand Canyon as a national monument, and since then much more of the Grand Canyon ecosystem has been protected. But the watershed, which includes tributary canyons, grasslands and springs that flow into the Colorado River and Grand Canyon, is still threatened by grazing, increasing motorized use, logging and uranium mining.
The landscape holds great cultural and historic significance to multiple Native American tribes and it provides habitat for the endangered Mexican spotted owl and California condor, endemic Kaibab squirrel and majestic northern goshawk. The 1.7 million acres of this proposed monument contain distinctive and unique ecological treasures, including the Kaibab Plateau, with one of the largest southwestern old-growth ponderosa pine forests; House Rock Valley, a remote and wild grassland ecosystem; the Kaibab-Pausaguant Wildlife Corridor, which facilitates migration and survival of large mammals like mule deer and pronghorn; and the life-sustaining waters of Kanab Creek and Grand Canyon's South Rim springs.
Monument designation of the watershed would protect these natural, historical and cultural resources and support local tribal economies by promoting tourism. In October 2015, Rep. Grijalva, said he would introduce legislation to create Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument while acknowledging it likely won't get even a hearing in Congress. The goal is to have a template ready that President Barack Obama could consider signing as a proclamation for a new monument, he said.
From the air, it is apparent that the ecosystem of the Grand Canyon extends beyond the boundaries of the park. EcoFlight flew a team of photographers, filmmakers and press over the proposed monument to help raise awareness and promote the protection of this truly unique landscape.
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