Chair Grijalva Hails Public Lands Package for Floor Consideration Next Week – Includes His “Grand Canyon Protection Act,” Wilderness Measures
Washington, D.C. – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today announced that the House Rules Committee will consider a package of Natural Resources Committee bills early next week ahead of a full House vote on Wednesday, Feb. 23. The package includes Grijalva’s Grand Canyon Protection Act, which was introduced as a standalone bill on Monday; Rep. Joe Neguse’s (D-Colo.) Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act; and a collection of bills introduced in the last Congress as a package by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) under the heading Protecting America’s Wilderness Act.
The bills introduced in the previous Congress as the Protecting America’s Wilderness Act heading and now included in the new package are:
- San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act, Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.)
- Colorado Wilderness Act, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.)
- Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act, Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.)
- Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.)
- Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.)
- Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.)
You can learn more about the package at https://naturalresources.house.gov/media/media-advisories/wilderness2021. More information about the full package is available at the end of this press release.
Grijalva on Monday introduced his Grand Canyon bill alongside 16 House Democratic cosponsors to permanently protect the greater Grand Canyon region from new mining claims and the pollution they would produce. Grijalva has made Grand Canyon protection a priority since coming to Congress in 2003, and as Chair of the Committee has drawn together an unprecedented coalition of Native American communities, conservation advocates, local elected officials, sportsmen and other stakeholders in support of permanently protecting the region from further mining pollution.
The bill – mirroring similar efforts in previous congresses – permanently withdraws slightly more than 1 million acres of federal land north and south of Grand Canyon National Park from eligibility for any future mining claims and leaves valid existing claims intact. Local stakeholders agree that uranium deposits in this part of Northern Arizona should not be mined for fear of contaminating the Grand Canyon or the seeps and springs in the region.
The area is currently in the midst of a 20-year moratorium on new claims instituted in 2012 by then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Unless extended, that moratorium will expire in the next decade.
“Of all the places on Earth to protect from mining pollution, the Grand Canyon should be the least controversial,” Grijalva said today. “The people of this state, and this country, should never again be subjected to special interest demands that we open the land around one of the wonders of the world to more pollution and exploitation. Nobody, with the exception of a few mining interests and their political apologists, can look into the eyes of the people who live here and say with a straight face that we need to keep having this argument. Protecting the Grand Canyon region is an environmental justice issue, an economic issue, and a moral issue all at the same time, and I’m proud to bring this coalition together to resolve it in the public interest once and for all.”
The bill is endorsed by the following stakeholders.
Members of Congress
“The Grand Canyon is one of the most iconic and beautiful landscapes in America and the world. It is also a critical source of economic development and drinking water in the region and a sacred place for Indigenous people. I am proud to help champion the Grand Canyon Protection Act to ensure this national treasure endures for generations of Arizonans and Americans to come.” – Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.)
“As threats against the Grand Canyon mount, we must take action to protect and preserve the precious public lands in and around the National Park. The Grand Canyon is home to sensitive wildlife habitats, critical groundwater resources, and Tribal communities that trace their origins to the region. The Canyon is also the heart of our state's tourism industry. Protecting these lands for generations to come is tied to the future of Arizona's economy, environment and cultural traditions.” – Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Ariz.)
“On the Navajo Nation alone, there are over 500 abandoned World War II and Cold War Era uranium mine sites that cause serious health conditions, like cancer, to this day. Uranium mine operations on lands near the Grand Canyon threaten the health of these Arizona families, the water supply of the Southwest, our state’s tourism economy, and the cultural and spiritual significance the Canyon holds for several Native American communities. I am proud to join my colleagues in re-introducing this important bill that protects Arizona’s natural wonder, the 40 million people that rely on Colorado River aquifers, and the families that still suffer from these dangerous operations.” - Rep. Tom O'Halleran (D-Ariz.)
Native American Tribes
“On behalf of the Havasupai Tribe, I am writing to express our full support for the Grand Canyon Protection Act. The Havasupai Tribe has opposed a nearby uranium mine, the Pinyon Plain Mine (formerly Canyon Mine), for years. The mine is located in the Red Butte area, which is our traditional cultural property. The contamination from the mine has caused millions of gallons of precious water to be rendered unusable and wasted, and the mine has potential to contaminate the Redwall-Muav aquifer. As evidence of how strongly the Havasupai tribal members oppose uranium mining, we included a prohibition on mining, exploration, and surveying for uranium in the Constitution of the Havasupai Tribe. The United States has a trust obligation to protect the Havasupai Tribe and an obligation to protect and preserve the Grand Canyon region, which cannot be met if mining is permitted to continue and increase on the Coconino Plateau. The Grand Canyon Protection Act will help protect our sacred lands and waters from the harmful and often irreversible effects of uranium mining.” - Evangeline Kissoon, Havasupai Tribal Chairwoman
“The Hopi and other tribes call the Grand Canyon their mother land which is sacred and has been inexorably bound to their culture and ceremonies since time immemorial. Thank you to Congressman Grijalva for his continued commitment to protecting the Grand Canyon's sacred landscape. The Grand Canyon Protection Act will ensure that the area remains free from the scars of mining and its waters protected from mining related pollution.” – Clark Tenakhongva, Vice Chairman, Hopi Tribe
“I strongly support the Grand Canyon Protection Act to preserve the land and protect all of the five-fingered beings that visit and live in the Grand Canyon area, including our brothers and sisters from other tribal nations. The Navajo people have endured decades of radiation exposure and contamination that has taken the lives of many former uranium miners, downwinders, and impacted the health of our unborn children. The permitting of any uranium mining operations near Navajo Nation lands, other tribal lands, and national parks would be devastating to the health and well-being of many. We thank Congressman Grijalva and ask Congress to support the Grand Canyon Protection Act.” – Jonathan Nez, President, Navajo Nation
"This bill is about protecting a natural wonder and the engine of Arizona's economy, but more importantly, it's about listening to Indigenous nations who have, for too long, been ignored and made to shoulder the deadly consequences of uranium extraction for the rest of us. This bill is a significant step toward the federal government saying 'no more.'" - Amber Reimondo, Energy Director, Grand Canyon Trust
“Uranium mining has a toxic legacy of soil and water contamination and the prospect of future mining has been a serious threat to the Grand Canyon’s fragile water supplies. This bill will ensure that the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon’s rivers, springs, waterfalls and creeks remain uncontaminated by uranium pollution and can continue to supply vital water to park visitors and the Havasupai tribe.” - Kevin Dahl, Arizona Senior Program Manager, National Parks Conservation Association
“The Grand Canyon is far too special — for Indigenous communities, wildlife, and our cultural and natural heritage — to leave it at risk to nearby, reckless uranium mining that threatens the health and water resources for the Havasupai, Navajo, Hopi, and Hualapai Tribes and 40 million users downstream. We stand in full support of Chairman Grijalva’s tireless leadership to protect these lands, public health, Tribal communities, wildlife, and recreational opportunities by preventing additional uranium mining in the greater Grand Canyon.” – Collin O’Mara, President and CEO, National Wildlife Federation
“Sierra Club is pleased to join Tribal nations, local communities, conservation groups, and businesses in supporting the Grand Canyon Protection Act to safeguard the Grand Canyon region from the harmful impacts of toxic uranium mining. We look forward to the timely passage of the bill in the House and Senate to ensure protection of the people, waters, wildlife, and cultural resources of the Grand Canyon region.” - Sandy Bahr, Chapter Director, Sierra Club - Grand Canyon Chapter
“Contaminating the Grand Canyon’s precious aquifers and springs with more deadly uranium pollution would be unforgivable. We join the region’s many tribes and millions of Americans in urging passage of this critical legislation.” – Taylor McKinnon, Senior Campaigner, Center for Biological Diversity
"The Grand Canyon is a national treasure and sacred land to several Native American Tribes. We must protect it, along with the people who live in the canyon and surrounding areas, from the dangers of uranium mining contamination. We’re grateful to Chairman Grijalva for his unwavering efforts to protect this special place and look forward to this bill becoming law." – Mike Quigley, Arizona State Director, The Wilderness Society
“As people of diverse faiths throughout Arizona, we are deeply concerned with protecting the sacred land of the Grand Canyon. Our faith traditions teach that all land is part of God’s creation and must be treated as holy. The golden rule, which stretches across all traditions, reminds us that we are to care for our neighbor and keep them healthy and thriving. Uranium mining threatens the places we hold sacred, our neighbor’s health and violates the moral calling of our faith traditions. The Arizona Faith Network stands in support of the Grand Canyon Protection Bill and urges Congress to pass this crucial legislation.” - Rev. Katie Sexton-Wood, Executive Director, Arizona Faith Network
“Chairman Grijalva’s legislation would secure treasured wild lands and the health of communities in Arizona for generations to come, and Earthjustice is proud to support it. Congress should pass this legislation without delay as it would strengthen protections for ancestral lands long occupied and held sacred by the first people to inhabit them. It would ensure that the next hundred years of the Grand Canyon area are filled with the same recreational opportunities as the first hundred. We are proud to support his efforts.” - Blaine Miller-McFeeley, Senior Legislative Representative, Earthjustice
“Halting new uranium mining around the Grand Canyon, indefinitely, is life-affirming, socially just, and economically wise. Wild Arizona stands with Indigenous communities, veterans, Colorado River-runners, outdoor businesses, and conservationists in strongly supporting Chairman Grijalva’s bill. We look forward to Congress immediately securing this opportunity to permanently protect Grand Canyon—to sustain the region’s natural waters, wildlife corridors, unique ecosystems, and cultural landscapes—and provide a healthy vibrant future for all.” - Kelly Burke, Executive Director, Wild Arizona
“Uranium mining is a practice that has intentionally contaminated drinking water, and risked our kids’ health, putting the lands we love at risk. This bill will safeguard the Grand Canyon and its waterways from uranium pollution, protecting a cherished landmark and its surrounding communities, and ensuring that future generations can continue to enjoy and appreciate our national parks and public lands. Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors (HECHO) urges Congress to pass this vital legislation.” – Ándrea Trujillo Guajardo, Policy Director, HECHO
“Permanently protecting the Grand Canyon ecoregion from the well-documented hazards of uranium mining and associated industrialization is essential to preserving the irreplaceable ecological and cultural treasures of that iconic landscape. It would also significantly add to our country’s priority to protect 30% of our nation’s lands by 2030, a critical step essential for the preservation of our planet’s diversity of life, humans included.” - Kim Crumbo, Wildlands Coordinator, The Rewilding Institute
“The Arizona Trail Association shares our profound thanks to Congressman Grijalva for his unwavering support of the natural and cultural resources that make Arizona and the Grand Canyon Region unlike anywhere else on Earth. The Grand Canyon Protection Act will provide important safeguards for the Arizona National Scenic Trail and all who hike, run and ride on the trail, in addition to water, wildlife, and the landscape itself. It’s time we prioritize public health over one toxic industry’s wealth, especially on public lands that are vital assets to our economy and way of life.” - Matthew Nelson, Executive Director, Arizona Trail Association
“As sportsmen, we know that the impact of water contamination and habitat fragmentation is real,” said Nathan Rees, Arizona field coordinator for Trout Unlimited. “Uranium mining near the Grand Canyon is unacceptable given the best science available and the known risks to our natural resources, the economy of Northern Arizona, and the communities that depend on Colorado River water. Access to clean water is crucial to the very survival of the fish and wildlife in this arid region. Small streams and seeps that may not be visibly connected on the surface will provide conduits for that contamination to locations far from the original source and ultimately to the Colorado River.” - Nathan Rees, Arizona Coordinator, Trout Unlimited
More Information About the Public Lands Package Under Consideration Next Week
The Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act designates approximately 1.49 million acres of public land as wilderness and incorporates more than 1,000 river miles into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The bill would also withdraw more than 1.2 million acres of public land from new oil and gas and mining claims, ensuring that iconic landscapes like the Grand Canyon and Colorado’s Thompson Divide are permanently protected from the irreversible threats posed by extraction. Advancing this package to the House floor is just one of many actions the Committee is taking to protect the integrity of our public lands and waters, promote outdoor recreation for all Americans, and enhance community resiliency to the impacts of the climate crisis.
Additional information about the specific provisions included in the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act is available below.
Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act – Rules Committee Print
Title I: Colorado Wilderness Act of 2021 (Rep. DeGette) – H.R. 803
Title II: Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act (Rep. Huffman) – H.R. 878
Title III: Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (Rep. Kilmer) – H.R. 999
Title IV: Central Coast Heritage Protection Act (Rep. Carbajal) – H.R. 973
Title V: San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and River Protection Act (Rep. Chu) – H.R. 693
Title VI: Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act (Rep. Schiff) – H.R. 1075
Title VII: Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act (Rep. Neguse) – H.R. 577
Title VIII: Grand Canyon Protection Act (Rep. Grijalva) – H.R. 1052
- Press Release: DeGette reintroduces plan to protect 660,000 acres of Colorado wilderness
- Media Packet: Colorado Wilderness Act of 2021
- Legislative Map: Colorado Wilderness Act of 2021
- Frequently Asked Questions: Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act
- Press Release (116th): Huffman Bill Passes as Part of Multi-State Public Lands Management Package
- A Full List of Supporters and Endorsing Organizations Can Be Found Here.
- Map of Proposed Wild and Scenic Rivers and Map of Proposed Wilderness Designations
- Frequently Asked Questions: Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act
- Press Release (116th): Kilmer’s Wild Olympics Bill to Protect the Environment and Grow Jobs Passes House
- A Full List of Supporting and Endorsing Organizations Can Be Found Here.
- Press Release: Carbajal Reintroduces Central Coast Heritage Protection Act
- Frequently Asked Questions: San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act
- Presidential Proclamation No. 9194 – Establishment of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument
- Press Release (116th): Rep. Chu and Sen. Harris Introduce Legislation to Protect San Gabriel Mountains
- Fact Sheet: Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act
- Interactive Map of Proposed Boundary Expansion
- Press Release (116th): Schiff, Feinstein, Harris Introduce Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation
- Press Release: Neguse, Bennet, Hickenlooper Introduce CORE Act to Protect Over 400,000 Acres of Public Land and Strengthen Economy
- Bill Summary: CORE Act
- Letters of Support: CORE Act
- Frequently Asked Questions: CORE Act
- Press Release (116th): Chair Grijalva Hails Passage of Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act to Block New Uranium Mining – Thanks Allies for Victory a Decade in the Making
- Medium Post: Keep It Grand
- Grand Canyon Trust Report: Uranium Mining in the Grand Canyon Region
Media Contact: Adam Sarvana
(202) 225-6065 or (202) 578-6626 mobile
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