Just days before the annual celebration of National Public Lands Day, 50 Arizona business associations and small businesses have sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, voicing support for a proposed 20-year moratorium on new uranium mining near Grand Canyon National Park. The state’s national parks, monuments and other public lands they say are “powerful engines of Arizona’s economy.”
In a related effort, over 200 small businesses from across Arizona have signed and sent postcards to Secretary Salazar. The retro-style postcards depict the Grand Canyon and read, “Wish you were here…and not new uranium mining! Thank you, Secretary Salazar, for your efforts to protect the Grand Canyon, our heritage, and our economy.”
“The health of our economy depends on making smart policy decisions that support small business,” said Ron Hubert, President of the Sustainable Economic Development Initiative (SEDI) which assisted in circulating postcards to business owners in Flagstaff. “Secretary Salazar is on track to make one of these smart decisions. Protecting the Grand Canyon protects Arizona’s economy, our future, and our way of life.”
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is completing a study this fall of the effects of new uranium mining near Grand Canyon National Park on the land, water, and economy of the region. In response to public concern about mining risks to Colorado River water supplies, wildlife habitat, and the tourism economy, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in June recommended a withdrawal of one million acres from new mineral entry around the Grand Canyon for 20 years.
“Arizona’s national parks and monuments are breathtaking, and the cornerstones of our Western way of life. They’re also powerful engines of Arizona’s economy. That’s why, as business leaders, we support and appreciate your announcement of a six-month extension on the temporary moratorium on new uranium mining around the Grand Canyon, and your support for a potential 20-year ban,” the groups wrote in a joint letter to the Interior Secretary.
“Thousands of American jobs depend on tourism to the Grand Canyon,” said Paul Hedger, President, Arizona Association of Bed & Breakfast Inns. “Why would we risk those jobs?”
According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation supports 82,000 jobs across Arizona, generates nearly $350 million in annual state tax revenue, and produces almost $5 billion annually in retail sales and services across Arizona.
The BLM’s final Northern Arizona Proposed Withdrawal Environmental Impact Statement is expected to be published this fall.