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St. Louis Business and Community Leaders Come Together To Help Save Grand Canyon

Activists Julia Eddy and Jonah Liebman show their support for protecting the Grand Canyon. Photo: Environment Missouri

Activists Julia Eddy and Jonah Liebman show their support for protecting the Grand Canyon. Photo: Environment Missouri

“The Grand Canyon is one of the most amazing places on earth, and it’s part of what makes America so special,” said Erin Goodyear, an organizer with Environment Missouri. “But, without action to stop it, toxic uranium mining could ruin the area for future generations.”

Press release from Environment Missouri:

St. Louis business and student leaders joined a nationwide campaign urging President Obama to permanently protect America’s most iconic national park — the Grand Canyon— from toxic uranium mining on public lands surrounding the park.

In Missouri, 38 small businesses, and 15 faculty members from Washington University, Saint Louis University, Mizzou and more have signed onto a letter urging President Obama to take action to protect the Grand Canyon. Additionally, 7 environmental and humanitarian organizations across the state from Ferguson to Arrow Rock and over 1,140 individuals have called on the president to create the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument before he leaves office.

“The Grand Canyon is one of the most amazing places on earth, and it’s part of what makes America so special,” said Erin Goodyear, an organizer with Environment Missouri. “But, without action to stop it, toxic uranium mining could ruin the area for future generations.”

The proposed monument, supported by nearly one million Americans, would prevent new mining and logging on 1.7 million acres of public land surrounding the national park. The land provides protection to the Colorado River and its watershed, which supplies drinking water to more than 25 million people downstream.

The area is home to North America’s largest old growth ponderosa pine forest and dozens of unique and endangered wildlife, from bighorn sheep to the California condor. It also hosts thousands of ancient Native American archaeological sites dating back millennia.

“As an individual, I want to be able to visit the Grand Canyon some day and not have to worry about radioactive waste from mining when I go.” Said Calvin Payne, owner of CQ Custom Designs in the Grove. “As a business owner, I empathize with the economic harm these mining activities would have on the tourism industry.”

Grand Canyon National Park is one of the nation’s most visited parks, drawing 5.5 million people each year for hiking, paddling, and more, sustaining thousands of jobs and generating $300 million in economic activity.

Mining isn’t currently allowed within the park itself, and new mines are currently prevented under a 20-year moratorium issued by the Obama administration in 2012.

But as the price of uranium has climbed, companies are pushing for the moratorium to be lifted. One company, Energy Fuels, Inc. has begun to reopen a mine, the Canyon Mine, not covered by the moratorium, just six miles from the park’s popular South Rim.

Old mines around and inside the national park have left water contamination that lingers to this day, and new mining could further harm the Colorado River, which provides drinking water to more than 25 million people downstream.

“Keeping water sources clean should be a priority in our country, and I hope that President Obama will see this necessity before he leaves office.” Said Madeline McHugh, a student leader at Washington University. “This cause should be important to all students because protecting the environment now is saving it for our future. We want to work and live in a world that values the environment so that we can go on outdoor trips and see these beautiful areas.”

“This year, we are celebrating the 100th birthday of our national parks, and there’s no better time to protect this great American icon,” said Goodyear. “In St. Louis, we’ve seen how hundreds of people and dozens of small business and community leaders want President Obama to protect the Grand Canyon forever.”

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