Victory! Interior Secretary Ken Salazar this week signed a 20-year ban on uranium mining around the Grand Canyon. The move will protect one of America's most treasured places from a uranium mining rush, and comes as the result of a the efforts of dozens of local and national environmental groups around the nation, as well as hundreds of thousands of citizens taking action.
Suzanne Sparling, who added to the chorus of voices by recruiting 55,000 people to sign her Change.org petition, said this:
"I'm humbled to tears to know that tens of thousands around the world took up and joined the cause and we can officially announce a victory. For too long we have been waiting, hoping and praying for this result!
Millions of lives have been spared in this one decision. It's truly overwhelming when you stop to consider the vastness the repercussions of what the alternative decision could have lead to. Even now with this incredible victory, our work mustn't stop -- 20 years will go faster than we realize and this sacred ground deserves an endless protection from threats of destruction."
I moved to Arizona over seven years ago, and I immediately fell in love with its beauty. I soon began searching for ways to make a difference to protect and preserve this land. With a like-minded fellow activist also in Arizona, I co-founded SEN4Earth.org, with a mission to educate others about sustainability and conservation.
My love for Arizona's environment sparked our first campaign to save the Grand Canyon from uranium mining. When we heard that one of the world's greatest treasures, located in our state, was under threat, we had to act.
Currently, a mining moratorium is protecting the Grand Canyon. But that ban is going to expire soon.
Mining companies are lining up to destroy the land. If the federal government doesn't renew the mining ban, this is the future we face, according to The Grand Canyon Trust:
Within 5 miles of Grand Canyon National Park, there are now more than 1,100 uranium claims, compared with just 10 in January 2003. The Kaibab National Forest has reported more than 2,100 claims filed in the Tusayan Ranger District; thousands more have been staked on BLM lands north of the Grand Canyon in the Kanab Creek drainage and House Rock Valley.
At this time, the Interior Department is taking public comments on whether they let the moratorium expire or, instead, enact a 20-year mining ban.
The Grand Canyon is among the earth's greatest on-going geological spectacles. Its vastness is stunning, and the evidence it reveals about the earth's history is invaluable.
When we speak of the Grand Canyon, we refer to not only the Canyon itself, but also include the vast and surrounding areas such as the Colorado River Drainage Basin and it's ecosystem, a vital source of water to wildlife and millions of people, numerous wildlife refuges, surrounding designated park and wildlife areas, communities, and cities.
Our opinion matters. We have to tell the Interior Department to protect one of America's greatest treasures.
Already, there is pollution in the area from some exploratory mining that has gone on. Again from the Grand Canyon Trust: The National Park Service already advises against "drinking and bathing" in the Little Colorado River, Kanab Creek, and other Grand Canyon waters where "excessive radionuclides" have been found.
Several areas of and surrounding the Grand Canyon have already been declared by the U.S. Forest Service and other national agencies as toxic areas. Water supplies and land have been poisoned by radiation from uranium mining run-off. Human, animal and plant lives and species have been lost and continue to be endangered by the toxic contamination.
We must all ACT NOW to Save the Grand Canyon! Please join us in signing this petition to halt uranium mining in and around the Grand Canyon.