Time to check another National Park off the list. I have been to the Grand Canyon a number of times but it seems that each time is different. With just a couple of nights here I was lucky enough to catch up with an old friend of the family from Mariposa.
Calvin works for NPS at the Albright Training Center and is lucky enough to live inside the park in government housing (very lucky for me but more about that later!).
So let’s start with a little history and a little politics: In 1908, President Teddy Roosevelt designated the canyon a national monument to protect it from copper, asbestos and other mining activities.
“Politicians wanted to mine the grand canyon for zinc and copper, and Theodore Roosevelt said, NO.” Douglas Brinkley
Roosevelt used the Antiquities Act to protect the Grand Canyon, which later became a national park in 1919. The Antiquities Act of 1906, is an act passed by the United States Congress and signed into law by Theodore Roosevelt on June 8, 1906. The law gives the President of the United States the authority to, by presidential proclamation, create national monuments from public lands to protect significant natural, cultural, or scientific features.
“In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which, so far as I know, is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world.” Theodore Roosevelt May 6, 1903
The Act has been used over a hundred times since its passage and more than any president before him, President Barack Obama has used his executive authority under the U.S. Antiquities Act to protect federal lands as national monuments. In his time in office, Obama has designated 23 national monuments across the country. Some would argue that this is an abuse of this power and there is certainly controversy over some of the designations under this act. I would argue that preserving these places is necessary as once lost we can never regain these beautiful and historical places.
So fast forward to today, with the new administration set to take office in a few short months many of the NPS staff is concerned that new environmental policy may threaten the future health of many of our national treasures. The Trump Administration transition website states: “Rather than continuing the current path to undermine and block America’s fossil fuel producers, the Trump Administration will encourage the production of these resources by opening onshore and offshore leasing on federal lands and waters.” Does this mean reopening places such as the Grand Canyon and its surrounding lands to mining interests?
The Havasupai, Hualapai, Navajo, and Hopi are among the tribes working with environmental groups and lawmakers to designate 1.7 million acres bordering Grand Canyon National Park as the Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument. The designation would make permanent the 20-year federal moratorium on new uranium mining in and around the canyon put in place in 2012, protecting fragile watershed, wildlife habitat and sacred and archaeological sites important to the tribes’ religious and cultural survival. My guess is that if they cannot get this in place before the current administration ends the threat will become very real.
So, back to my Grand Canyon visit! Calvin was a great host from hiking the rim trail, appetizers and beer at the lodge, dinner at his place and a parking spot complete with electricity when the campground was full. He has been at the Grand Canyon for 7 years now and we enjoyed some great conversation about parks and life in general. My first night was in the campground waking to weather that turned to snow and started to build. I swore that I would never drive the motorhome in snow but sometimes things are beyond our control. As the campground was full for the next night I slowly made my way the couple miles as the snow fell to Calvin’s place in the government-housing complex. Those miles were stressful enough and very glad I didn’t have to go farther!
After getting settled in Calvin’s driveway Cory and I took a hike along the rim with the weather alternating between rain and snow, was a great hike with few people on the trail.
This is certainly the best time to hike with a park full of visitors.
With breaks of sunlight we were treated to a rainbow over the canyon – awesome!
Before leaving I couldn’t resist an early morning hike to the rim to enjoy the sunrise over the canyon.
Even with the cold weather there were literally hundreds of people along the rim enjoying the sunrise spectacle. Thanks again Calvin for the great visit!
“The elements that unite to make the Grand Canyon the most sublime spectacle in nature are multifarious and exceedingly diverse.” John Westley Powell