Should 1.7 million acres of land around the Grand Canyon be designated a national monument? It’s certainly a topic of hot debate in Arizona.
Supporters of the monument say it will permanently protect an ecologically fragile and historically significant area from uranium mining, while those opposing the plan say it's part of a “radical environmental” agenda that will only end up hurting the economy.
Both sides of the debate have harsh words for the other, but those pushing for monument designation say their opponents are purposefully spreading false information and distorting facts.
Here are seven things supporters say the opposition doesn't want the public to know:
7. It has a lot of public support.
Despite claims that the proposed monument is unpopular, recent polls show that 80 percent of Arizonans support or strongly support giving the area permanent protection.
6. It will generate money and jobs.
An independent research firm concluded recently that the monument would generate $51 million for the economy of Northern Arizona. The figure comes from the combined value of already existing activities that would be permitted to continue under the monument framework and new economic activities generated by an enlarged tourism industry.
5. The federal government already manages most of the land.
Those opposing the monument like to call it a “federal land grab,” but the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service already manage about 94.5 percent of the land within the proposed monument. (The other 1.6 percent is privately held and 3.7 percent is State Trust land.)
4. There already are limits on uranium mining in the area.
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In 2012, then-Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar approved a 20-year ban on new uranium mining claims near the Grand Canyon. The monument just makes this moratorium permanent.
3. Monument status won't majorly affect hunting, recreation, and most industries like grazing and forestry.
U.S. Congressman Raul Grijalva says when he wrote the monument proposal, he used specific language to protect hunting, grazing, forestry, and recreational activities taking place in the area.
2. The Antiquities Act is constitutional.
If Grijalva’s bill fails and the monument designation falls to the president, expect the opposition to mount an even stronger attack on the Antiquities Act — the law that allows presidents to declare national monuments by executive order. The anti-monument camp often claims that the Antiquities Act is an unconstitutional example of “federal overreach,” but the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the legality of the Antiquities Act three times since it was passed in 1906.
1. The anti-monument movement is supported by dark-money organizations with ties to the Koch brothers and other special-interest groups.
As New Times wrote Monday, tax documents show that some of the groups leading the fight against the monument rely on dark money funneled through the large and extensive Koch brothers donor network.