TAOS PUEBLO….one of the “oldest places” in the United States and this ancient pueblo greeted Coronado men when they penetrated into southwestern America
Crunching 2015 SouthWestPhotoJournal.Com blog numbers for the year
The SouthWest Photo Journal began life as a sister site to South West Photo Bank, both .coms, showcase my photography which usually features the American South West. When the sites started my plan was to develop tools I as a photographer would use to display my photos and tell the kind of stories I have enjoyed working on all my life. After almost 50 years of working with cameras it is in the blood. My life as a photojournalist has exposed me to many of the cultures that make up the rich tapestry of life I have found here in the Southwest. This past year, my blog has reflected life in Arizona on four separate reservations found in Sells, Sacaton, San Carlos and Whiteriver. Each blog reflects on the rich communities on the Tohono O’odham, Gila River Tribes, San Carlos Apache and the White Mountain Apache reservations. I have alway thought that life-long Arizonans miss out on so much by failing to learn more about their neighbors. These blogs attempt to share the rich customs and traditions found throughout our state. Closer to home, my blogs on the Pow Wow, Mescal Movie Set and the A-Mountain Cross carry reflects smaller communities within communities, people of one mind and tradition. The Tucson Rugby Community was a great blog and a wonderful experience, these folks play their hearts out, and deserve greater community support. Archaeology is a great pull on my curiosity and the Oro Valley Pit House blog features the background behind the people who lived in the Oro Valley area 800 years ago. The Mule Creek Salado Pueblo built by Archaeology SouthWest’s Allen Denoyear, as was the Oro Valley Pit House, these communities are long gone but interest in what they accomplished during their time on earth continues. A few epic blogs on the Grand Canyon, the Spanish Entrada into the South West and another on Spanish Missions tend to pick up traffic as time goes by. Blogs on Cuba, Nepal and Alaska usually have a news peg like Cuba opening up after a half century, Nepal suffering crippling earthquakes and Alaska because I finally got those photos scanned and rooted into the South West Photo Bank. Below is WordPress.Com annual review of the stats from the South West Photo Journal and thought you might enjoy.
Thanks for making this all possible…
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 51,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 19 sold-out performances for that many people to see it. There were 637 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 507 MB. That’s about 2 pictures per day. The busiest day of the year was June 17th with 4,382 views. The most popular post that day was SAN CARLOS APACHE MARCH TO OCCUPY OAK FLAT PROMISE A FIGHT TO SAVE THEIR HOLY GROUND FROM THE GREED OF McCAIN, KIRKPATRICK, FLAKE, GOSAR AND THE RESOLUTION COPPER MINE !.
That blog eventually had 23,817 views and 20 comments. Many of those hits came to SouthWestPhotoJournal.Com from a Facebook connection from a New York Times OP/ED which called this land swap, “political corruption” following McCain slipping a rider in the “must-pass” National Defense Bill for which McCain sits on the Chairmanship of the most powerful of committees. Outrage was the tone of the comments.
In 2015, there were 15 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 135 posts. That’s 141 countries in all who visited the site! Most visitors came from The United States. Canada & France were not far behind.
2015 ANNUAL REPORT
Attractions in 2015
These are the posts that got the most views in 2015. You can see all of the year’s most-viewed posts in your Site Stats.
“SAN CARLOS APACHE MARCH TO OCCUPY OAK FLAT PROMISE A FIGHT TO SAVE HOLY GROUND FROM THE GREED OF McCAIN KIRKPATRICK FLAKE GOSAR AND THE RESOLUTION COPPER MINE …..23,817 views!”
Home page / Archives 8712 views
OLD TUCSON’S MESCAL CHANNELS THE OLD WEST’, IT’S PRICELESS, BUT MOVIE SETS ARE NOT BUILT TO LAST ONLY FILM MAGIC LIVES ON ! …….1612 views
HONEY BEE PIT HOUSE CONSTRUCTION MAPS OUT THE HOHOKAM’S LIFE WAYS AT STEAM PUMP RANCH IN ORO VALLEY EXPANDING THE PREHISTORIC RECORD ! …….776 views
APACHE SUNRISE CEREMONY … A COMING OF AGE DANCE FOR APACHE WOMEN …..615 views
THE LANGUAGE ON THE ROCKS : WAS THE FLUTE-PLAYING KOKOPELLI, A TRADER, DIPLOMAT, TEACHER OR WITCH ? DID ROCK DRAWINGS REVEAL THE SECRETS OF THE COSMOS AND THE FACE OF EARLY MAN? ……454 views
THE GREAT FORT APACHE HERITAGE CELEBRATION or NDEE LA ADE’/ GATHERING OF THE PEOPLE WHOSE YOUTH ARE KEEPING THEIR TRADITIONS ALIVE !…412 views
GREAT FORT APACHE HERITAGE DAY VIDEO/CROWN DANCERS
SPANISH ENTRADA SEARCHES FOR CITY OF GOLD, CORONADO FINDS AMERICAN SOUTH WEST, SEES LITTLE TO VALUE EVEN LESS TO CARRY OFF! ….400 views
PISTOLERO JOHNNY RINGO A LOWLIFE NO GOOD BACKSHOOTIN SCUMSUCKER IS BURIED IN WEST TURKEY CREEK ….380 views
TUCSON’S NEW SKATE BOARD GENERATION CATCHES WAVE TOWARD THE NATIONS BEST SKATESCAPE …364 views
GREEN VALLEY’S ASARCO DISCOVERY MINE TOUR SHOWS THE BEST AND WORST OF COPPER MINES AND THE ART OF HARDROCK MINING362
Annetta Koruh “Nita” bakes Piki Bread for her godson’s Naming ceremony and to feed the Kachinas that come to dance at 3rd Mesa.
The baker dips their hand in a mixture of cornmeal, crisco, and sheep brains plies the mixture thinly upon a flagstone rock which bakes the bread.
Newspapers flying off to Dodo Island …356 views
VIVA! PROCLAIMS ELOY ARIZONA UPHOLDING A TRADITION OF FAMILY AS MEXICAN INDEPENDENCE DAY SEPTEMBER 16 SENDS RIPPLES WORLD-WIDE…..299 views
INDIAN RODEOS ARE WHERE YOU FIND THE ACTION and TRIBAL FAIRS OFFER A RICH VIEW OF TRADITIONAL LIFE ….293 views
LITTLE PICACHO WILDERNESS OPENS DOOR TO CALIFORNIA CHOCOLATE MOUNTAINS AND WINTER ADVENTURE …285 views
THE POW WOW PATH LEADS TO FAMILY & FRIENDS DANCE COMPETITIONS BUILDS NATIVE AMERICAN PRIDE WITH TRADITIONS LINKING TO THEIR PAST !……264 views
TOHONO O’ODHAM TOKA TOURNAMENT IS A TOAST TO THE PAST AND REVIVAL OF OLD SOCIAL GAMES …262 views
SOUTHWEST SPANISH MISSIONS BROUGHT THE “GOSPEL’S LIGHT TO THE RIM OF CHRISTENDOM HELPED THE NATIVES CARVE A LIVELIHOOD FROM THE LAND AND WRITTEN HISTORY BEGAN !”….238 views
A GATHERING OF WARRIORS; IRA HAYES WELCOMES HOME TRIBAL PATRIOTS TO SACATON TO CELEBRATE THE WARRIORS’S FIGHTING SPIRIT !……217 views
SUPERIOR COPPER MINE TO USE ROBOTS ON WORLD-CLASS ORE BODY, SAN CARLOS APACHE VOW FIGHT TO SAVE RESERVATION WATER FROM IRANIANS…..215 views
KATERI TEKAKWITHA BATHS HER LOVE LIGHT ON THE WHITE DOVE OF THE DESERT ! SAN XAVIER MISSION…..203 views
URANIUM MINING in the SOUTH WEST: A LEGACY THAT POISONS THE LAND … AND ” IT WILL NEVER GO AWAY’!…..200 views
MUL-CHA-THA BRINGS GILA RIVER INDIAN TRIBES TOGETHER FOR FUN WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS ! 30 YEAR STUDY OF PIMA BLOOD MAY CURE DIABETES…..191 views
MUL-CHU-THA RODEO and FAIR: IS A FOOT RACE TO A BETTER LIFE ! PEE POSH AND AKIMEL O’ODHAM TRIBES TAG TEAM COMMUNITY PROGRESS WITH GATHERINGS188AMERICAN SOUTHWEST LANDSCAPE…..186 views
“ALL WE NEED IS A SPARK! SEVERE FIRE SEASON PREDICTED IN U.S. SOUTH WEST: A FOREST OF “TORCHED TOOTHPICKS” WILL BE OUR LEGACY”……180 views
BEARIZONA! ENTER at YOUR OWN RISK! South West BLACK BEAR Preserve Productive Stop for Photographer…..174 views
TUCSON RUGBY: “THE LONGEST 40 MINUTES IN YOUR LIFE-YOU WANT OUT-BUT ARE AFRAID SOMEONE WILL LAUGH AT YOU RUCKING AND MAULING IS TEAMWORK”…..173 views
AMISH FALL ENDS MID-MISSOURI SEASONAL CYCLE HARD WORK BEGINS ANEW BEFORE THE SNOW FLYS…..161 views More Amish Photos
Most popular photo on the SouthWestPhotoBank.Com keeps getting traffic from the Amish of Missouri.
“THAT SPOT IS NOT THAT SCENIC! BUILDING ROSEMONT MINE: EARNING THE PUBLIC TRUST! SELLING ARIZONA’S NEXT OPEN PIT MINE”…..159 views
2015 was Wet and Wild for the annual Sells Rodeo, Fair, Pow Wow and Toka Tournament
TOHONO O’oDHAM 76TH RODEO and FAIR BRINGS FAMILY AND FRIENDS TOGETHER TO CELEBRATE…..150 views
SELLS 75TH ALL INDIAN RODEO & FAIR, OLDEST IN THE UNITED STATES & BEST ENTERTAINMENT TICKET!…..140 views
CONFEDERATES SCARE OFF YANKEES PICACHO PEAK PARK SALUTES 150th ANNIVERSARY OF ARIZONA VICTORY…..138 views
Civil War in the SouthWest video………
“TREE TIME THE SINGLE GREATEST CONTRIBUTION TO AMERICAN ARCHAEOLOGY THE STUDY OF TREE RINGS or THE DAY SOUTH WEST PREHISTORY STOOD STILL …”…..134 views
THE DRIEST & HOTTEST YEAR IN 500 YEARS ! THE RELENTLESS SOUTHWESTERN DROUGHT: EXPERTS SAY ‘GET USED TO IT’…WILL ARIZONANS BE THE NEXT ‘CLIMATE REFUGEES’ ?……133 views
BORDER SECURITY FACT or FICTION ? MORE BOOTS ON THE BORDER NOW THAN EVER BEFORE ! SOME CALL FOR MILITIA, MARSHALL LAW TO STOP THE INVASION !…..131 views
TOHONO O’ODHAM SLAP STICK IS A COMPETITIVE BATTLE IN SELLS, NOT FOR THE WEAK-KNEED, NOR FOR THE FAIR WEATHER VISITOR…129 views
The TOHONO O’ODHAM : A DESERT PEOPLE …..126 views
BIRDING IN THE SOUTHWEST, TAKE YOUR SCOPE ! NO MATTER WHERE YOU ARE IN ARIZONA THERE IS A HOT BIRDING PARADISE AT A WETLAND NEAR YOU ! …..122 views
END OF THE WORLD COMING ON SOLSTICE ? WHITE BUFFALO WOMEN SAYS LOVE THE WORLD AND EACH OTHER LOVE WILL RETURN BALANCE TO OUR WORLD !…..120 views
GET YOUR KICKS ON ROUTE 66 HISTORIC ROAD WEST DEFINES AMERICA REMAINS A TREASURE TO BE NURTURED AND APPRECIATED…120 views
AFRO-CUBAN SANTERIA RIVERSIDE DANCE IN HAVANA…120,000 views
CUBAN SANTERIA RIVERSIDE CELEBRATION…..105 views
WYATT EARP NO SHOW FOR TOMBSTONE’S EARP DAYS LETHARGY SWEEPS MEMORIAL DAY EVENT……101 views
ARIZONA’S CROWN JEWELS …..98 views
COWBOY UP ! COWBOY DOWN…SACATON JUNIOR RODEO A BOOT CAMP FOR ARIZONA’S NEXT RODEO STARS…..98 views
URANIUM MINING in the SOUTH WEST: NAVAJOS TRAPPED BY TAILING and DECADES OF INACTION……90 views
IN TOUCH WITH THE MIMBRES, MOGOLLON, SALADO PROBLEM IN MULE CREEK NEW MEXICO, SOUTHWEST ARCHAEOLOGY FIELD SCHOOL PROBES FOR ANSWERS…..83 views
PECOS CONFERENCE OPENS WINDOW TO THE VIRGIN ANASAZI’S ARIZONA STRIP FARMERS AND TIMELINE…77 views
“ONLY THE GODS CAN SEE THEM ANCIENT MAN PETITIONS SKY PILOTS”76TUCSON SUNSET ECLIPSE ALL ABOUT SAGUAROS, THE RING OF FIRE STRETCHES FROM ASIA TO NEW MEXICO…..61 views
MEXICO’S ONLY CORAL REEF, CABO PULMO ON BAJA’S EAST CAPE, NEEDS PROTECTION FROM GREEDY DEVELOPERS WHOSE LUST FOR 23,000 NEW ROOMS WILL KILL THIS PARADISE !,=…..60 views
NOW CUBA IS OPEN TO THE U.S., WHERE TO STAY IN HAVANA? TRY A BED AND BREAKFAST, LIVE DOWNTOWN AND PARTY WITH THE LOCALS ! ……59 views
A HAVANA CUBA VIDEO VISIT…..50 views
SOUTH WEST PHOTO BANK GALLERYS…..49 views
TUCSON’S DOWNTOWN NEW STREET CAR SYSTEM ROLL OUT OVERWHELMINGLY RECEIVED BY 60,000 RIDERS EMBRACING THE NEW RIDE…..57 views
HAYDEN’S SMELTER TURNS 100 YEARS, POLLUTION ISSUES WORRY RESIDENTS BUT QUIET LIFE, GOOD JOB, A BIG PLUS56THE COLORADO RIVER WATERS THE AMERICAN SOUTHWEST…..53 views
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO McCORMICK & DEERING ?…..51 views
ROCK ART RANCH TAKES VISITORS BACK IN TIME ! EXPERTS MARVEL AT “BIRTHING SCENE A GLIMPSE OF SOUTH WEST PREHISTORIC LIFE ON PECOS 2013 TOUR”…..48 views
TUCSON’S DAY OF THE DEAD PROCESSION 2010…..48 views
BIG SHOW JUST AROUND THE CORNER, ANNUAL FALL LEAVES STARTING EARLY IN FLAGSTAFF, WHITE MOUNTAINS LEAVES ON SCHEDULE BUT LATER…..47 views
Civil War in the SouthWest video………47 views
DESERT WILDFLOWERS, JUST THE ICING ON THE CAKE FOR HIKERS, PHOTOGRAPHERS
AND LOVERS OF THE SOUTH WEST BACK ROADS AND SCENERY…44 views
CUBA’S LOVE – HATE RELATIONS WITH AMERICAN CARS LEFT IN A 1950’S TIME WARP – EVERYONE MAKES DO !…….44 views
FALL COMES TO ARIZONA HIGHLANDS……42 views
EXPLORING NEPAL : A SEARCH FOR PREHISTORIC MAN IN THE TIMELESS HINDU KINGDOM…..41 views
PK with the Prehistoric Man he sought
SPRING IS BUSTING OUT ALL OVER, CACTUS ARE BLOOMING NOW AND BIRDS ARE NESTING, COLOR ABOUNDS IN ARIZONA’S SONORAN DESERT…..40 views
TUCSON’s 2011 DAY of the DEAD PROCESSION : A NEVER-ENDING LESSON in LIFE and LOVE !……39 views
VIDEO FEATURING 25 YEARS OF THE TUCSON DAY OF THE DEAD PROCESSION
.........">CLICK HERE FOR SPANISH TRANSLATION
TALKEETNA, Alaska -This is a train trip that can hardly rival the Siberian Railway, the Orient Express or any of the world’s other great rail journeys. After all, this is a trip that’s only 54.7 miles long.
But incredible scenery is the attraction on the Alaska Railroad’s local flag stop service that will carry people, luggage, camping supplies, building materials and most anything else you can haul aboard through some of this nation’s most isolated, rugged and beautiful land.
Alaska’s flag stop service is the only one in the country. Tell the engineer where you want to get off, and he’ll stop there – anywhere. Flag him down with a white cloth and he’ll pick you up on the return trip. It’s more like an intracity bus than a train.
But for people living in this area of Alaska, where there are no roads, no trails, no flat spots big enough to land a plane, it’s the only way in or out.
Tourists are welcome, but the flag stop service is mostly for locals and visitors who want to get completely away from it all for a few days. Ask conductor Gary Knutson if there will be any narration along the way, and he says, ”Once in a while someone will yell, ‘Bear!’ but that’s about it.”
The route starts in Talkeetna, a funky town of about 600 people (think Bisbee hauled about 2,900 miles north) that is the jumping-off spot for climbers determined to scale Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America. The train turns around less than 60 miles north at Hurricane, nothing more than a train maintenance building.
The flag stop train is a one-car, self-contained, selfpropelled unit – a combination locomotive, passenger and baggage car in one.
Three-quarters of the trip parallels the broad Susitna River, which provides unlimited opportunities for hiking, camping and fishing.
Many of the visitors that ride the flag stop, hauling aboard enough stuff to equip a good-size sporting goods store, don’t really know where they want to go. ”They’ll ask us to drop them off at a good spot for fishing or whatever, and we usually have some suggestions,” said Knutson.
High school ROTC students disembark to live off the land.
On this trip, a squadron of Junior ROTC cadets from a high school in Hawaii were aboard with their leader, heading for a five-day wilderness experience. The leader had some idea where he wanted to go, and engineer Pete Hackenberger accommodated their request, stopping the train in what appeared to be the middle of nowhere as the cadets unloaded their gear and hiked into the thick forest growing right up to the tracks.
Hunter and guide Gary Prichard watches Alaska slip by the window as his dog Ginger enjoys the dry ride. Dropped off in the middle of nowhere, two Alaskan schoolkids (below) prepare to float 40 miles down the Susenta River to Talkeetna.
Despite ominous signs warning of federal laws forbidding passengers from entering the engineer’s compartment, operation of the flag stop train is pretty casual. Hackenberger usually runs the train in a ”uniform” of T-shirt and shorts during the summer, frequently bringing his dog, Bear, with him for company.
Hackenberger and Knutson know everyone who lives along the Talkeetna-Hurricane route. Several people who have built cabins far from any sign of civilization have used the train and another larger freight that plies the same tracks to haul in their homes, piece by piece.
Engineer Pete Hackenberger says the Talkeetna-to-Hurricane run is the best job on Alaska’s rails.
At one point along this run, Hackenberger slowed the train and sounded the whistle. A man emerged from the underbrush and Hackenberger waved and tossed him a pack of cigarettes as he went by, fulfilling a request from the day before.
”People are really nice along here,” Knutson said. ”You really get to know them. One guy flagged us down and gave us a covered skillet. It was filled with blueberry pie. So we ate the pie and dropped off the skillet on the next trip.”
On the way back to Talkeetna, three fishermen with their dog flagged down the train for a lift back to town. Hackenberger and Knutson climbed down to help them lift their equipment into the train.
‘No fish and you still have beer?” Hackenberger asked as he lifted a heavy cooler. ”You didn’t read the manual. We might not let you on.”
It is not unusual to see eagles, bear and other wildlife. On this trip, a large moose and her two calves bounded away from the tracks as the train approached. If the weather is good, there are spectacular views of Mount McKinley from the train.
”There certainly are worse jobs,” said Hackenberger. ”I think this is some of the most specular scenery anywhere.”
by MARK KIMBLE
MORE ALASKA PHOTOS … SOUTHWESTPHOTOBANK ALASKA GALLERY
TALKEETNA, ALASKA TO HURRICANE GULCH
THE BEST WAY TO SEE ALASKA – IS BY ALASKA RAILROAD…
Flag Stop Service Schedule: During the summer, the train runs Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Runs are far less frequent during the winter. The train leaves Talkeetna about noon and returns about 6 p.m.
Fares: The Talkeetna-Hurricane 55 mile route is $100 for adults roundtrip More info: 1 (800) 544-0552 or 907-277-4321 for trip planning expert
FROM THE NORTH RIM TO THE SOUTH, EAST RIM TO THE WEST THE CANYON IS BEING LOVED TO DEATH AND SQUEEZED FOR EVERY DOLLAR IT CAN PRODUCE…“Leave it as it is. Man cannot improve on it; not a bit. The ages have been at work on it and man can only mar it.”
“Leave it as it is. I hope you will not have a building of any kind, not a summer cottage, a hotel or anything else to mar the wonderful grandeur, the sublimity, the loneliness and beauty of the canyon.”
President Teddy Roosevelt’s first visit to Arizona in May 1903
Arizona’s World Heritage Site, The Grand Canyon, the one spot in the World everyone really needs to see because it is one of the World’s Seven Natural Wonders. It stands out as the number one tourist stop of the American South West attracting up to five million visitors each year. Ninety percent visit the Canyon’s South Rim, others drive to the North Rim and a growing amount of the Las Vegas traffic is crowding onto the Haulapai West Rim, featuring “the SkyWalk” the Tribe’s key piece of a larger tourism development the tribe plans to build along their canyon’s rim, cashing in on the world attraction. Air traffic visiting the Grand Canyon must fall into “air corridors” and fly a counter-clock wise tour of specific features finishing spinning out of the washing machine tour, which is filled with as much air traffic, as most large municipal airports handling hundreds of flights daily. On the canyon’s East Rim at the confluence of the Little Colorado River and the Colorado, the place of emergence for the people of many southwest Indian Tribes, Navajo Tribal members debate over building a tramway to their planned riverside restaurant allowing everyone to visit the inner canyon. Outside money wants to build a 2000 home development in Tusayan AZ, taping the region’s fragile water aquifer, and straining existing supplies. Every corner of the canyon has outside pressure that compromises the Canyon’s “Wilderness” status but for five decades pontoon rafts powered with gas motors have cruised right down the middle of the tall cliffs and those motors alone (and the U.S. Congress) have kept America’s most Iconic Wild Place, the Grand Canyon, from it’s richly deserved and needed “Wilderness” status. Without the motors, the almost 20,000 raft visitors on the Colorado would shrink to 8-9,000 and frankly, “that would be unAmerican and totally unsatisfactory”. Meanwhile, many of these pressures could be mitigated with a “Wilderness” status not to mention new pressures to open old uranium claims and at the same time open new sources of mine waste pollution to Canyon waterways, creeks and streams, some of which are already unsafe for drinking. More than a half million unstable mine tailing ponds, shafts stand ready to drain into western water tables, as well as the Colorado River, a water source for 28 million people scattered across deserts from Tucson to LA.
The Golden Goose fable of our youth preaches that ‘Greed loses all by striving all to gain’! How many times have you circled a South Rim pullout looking for a parking spot ? How many “hard metal” spills in to the Colorado River will be okay, until we realize we are poisoning ourselves ? If you build a 2200 home development next to the Grand Canyon, it just becomes a “big ditch”! There are a lot of reasons for the situations facing the Grand Canyon many sadly are special interests …. One very obvious special interest is that National Park Service funds generated by the wildly successful “Grand Canyon” is funneled off to less successful parks while its own needs suffer. Some Navajos argue jobs are more important than preserving the traditions and sacred lands of the Navajo. Others say without the customs, beliefs and land, nothing else matters. Mining in the region has a history of irresponsibility and negligence, there is more than one superfund cleanup sites looking for funding. The River Runners Assoc. points to a solar-powered boat motor being developed and so all this should fade if the motor sound and emissions disappear. Then there would be no obstacle to the needed “Wilderness” Status. For many years as Republican budgets have strangled NPS funds to repair and rebuild infrastructure often pushing arguments for privatizing Parks, “Coca Cola’s Grand Canyon”, is often suggested as where such actions would led.
Motorist entering the Grand Canyon’s South Entrance is entering one of the NPS busiest gates any where in the United States, four lanes of traffic, bringing in annually 5-6,000 visitors daily. Today lane four is closed and traffic is backed up 13-15 cars deep in lanes one thru three, “Lane four was worn down to the bare dirt, it was really bad–they had to close it. “Just worn out”! Driving through the park the first signs you see ask the public not to approach wildlife or feed it, deer frequently graze on the roadsides and close contact with motorist is always possible. Almost two dozen deer were destroyed in Indian Gardens after becoming addicted to junk food and were slowly starving to death after campers had pampered the deer with handouts that destroyed their wild constitutions.
I pull into the Desert View Point, the first view of the Grand Canyon seen by visitors arriving from the East Entrance Gate, making my way to the Lookout I start getting the idea English may not be the first language of choice, but the common denominator is the Grand Canyon, everyone wants to see it. Sunset is approaching and the building crowd is drifting toward the point jutting out from the South Rim’s iconic Historic Tower. As the sun lowers folks begin to debate whether this is the BEST viewpoint to photograph the Sunset, for many visiting the Grand Canyon is a once in a Lifetime happening, so photographers want to make the most of the moment. Tourist begin squeezing toward the furthest spot to get their iconic photo of their visit to the “big ditch” a photograph destined for a lifetime in a frame. Four English-speaking Ukrainian women take their turn when a Greek man pushes to the viewpoint moments before the sun sinks into the horizon. “We made it”, he proclaims spinning taking in the whole 360 degree panarama, he pulls out his five week old chichuaha pup and hoists the dog above his head giving Marianna the ultimate viewpoint. “She goes everywhere with me, he says I’ve been trying to get here since I was in the fifth grade, he whoops. “We made it” he repeats asking the Ukrainian women to take his picture passing his phone only to have it returned. Dead battery!
The Ukrainian women pull out their iphones and produce the needed pictures and exchanged email addresses. Then the Greek wants one more picture. Pushing Marianna to the women, he faces into the abyass, thrusts his arms into the air and throws his head back like in a rockyesque goal-line celebration or was it more like one does in the bow of a ship as it breaks through the waves and a great sensation of being alive washes over you! “Take the picture”, he asks realizing his lifetime goal. For many people a trip to the Grand Canyon is the trip of a lifetime.
As old as time itself the Grand Canyon has been loved and appreciated almost to death. Four and a half Million Tourists come each year to view the Canyon about the size of Delaware, 277 miles in length and averages about ten miles across. While the Grand Canyon is one of the biggest money makers in the National Park portfolio, it was Jan Brewer,Governor of the State of Arizona who paid to keep the Canyon open when Republicans shut down the US Government. The tourist dollars fallout from a Canyon visit for the State of Arizona is enormous. It is so beneficial that places like Las Vegas, keeps trying to sell it as Nevada’s Grand Canyon, selling flights to the Canyon including flyovers and ground visits via buses or the popular Pink Jeep Tours. Not long ago I heard a NPR broadcaster speaking about Utah’s Grand Canyon and that I can sort of understand. Utah’s still sore because Arizona stole Monument Valley and could be looking for payback…
More than 30 Helicopter fly out of Grand Canyon Airport many more leave daily from Phoenix, Sedona, Flagstaff, Salt Lake and Las Vegas, Nevada. Some fly solo flight missions, others off load passengers for ground transport, while other packages include the Sky Walk or inner gorge visits.
For most Americans, visiting the Grand Canyon, is on their “Bucket List”. For some it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, for many seeing all its grandeur, and how it is experienced, depends upon your abilities. For some hiking in, while others pullout hop along the rim, some raft through and other fly. Grand Canyon Airport daily handles the flight load of major cities airports, and built a new $9M 120′ flight tower for the only airport owned by the State of Arizona. In addition to the 300 flights originating at GCA daily, the tower sees incoming flights all day from Las Vegas, Sedona, Phoenix, Salt Lake, not to mention cross country jets. Like the two that collided over the Canyon June 30, 1956.
The 1956 Grand Canyon mid-air collision occurred at 10:30 am when a United Airlines Douglas DC-7 struck a Trans World Airlines Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation over the within the boundaries of Grand Canyon National Park, resulting in the crash of both airliners. All 128 on board both flights perished. It was the first commercial airline crash to result in more than 100 deaths, and led to sweeping changes in the control of flights in the United States. The location of the crash has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
Garrett Paulsen writes in the SWAviator.Com Blog NPS Special Flight Routes ….flying into the Grand Canyon still allows for sightseeing even though pilots “are operating within certain constraints”. “Flying in the Canyon is no longer a free-for-all”, Paulsen reports.
Then there are the money people ! The Grand Canyon when on hard times and Republican Administrations we have frequently heard the need for Corporate sponsors so America’s Coca Cola Company could have a chunk of the Canyon, placing their logo on signs and no doubt advertising, privatization is not too far off on that path. The Sierra Club recently proclaimed the Canyon “the most endangered park” due to wear and tear, new Uranium mine claims and needs for modernization for the safety of the millions who visit Arizona’s Grand Canyon. As I enter the popular SouthWest Park Entrance and flash my ID and fabulous Senior Park Pass, the friendly Ranger says this entrance sees between 5,000-6,000 people a day and is one of the busiest NPS gates in America. Lane Four was coned off and workmen were scrapping off the old roadway and were preparing to lay down a new surface.Cars begin to stack up ten-thirteen vehicles are politely waiting, after all, we are all on vacation. I move on to the Canyon’s edge. “I’m on the edge of the World”, shrieks a eight year old, his arms spread as wings cast long shadows as the Canyon light moves lower in the West. As old as it is, fans and new technologies, still bring fresh perspectives to the timeless Grand Canyon. Selfies are what the Grand Canyon is all about. Gone are the days of everyone passing their phones or cameras so everyone had a view in their phone gallery. Today the “Selfie Sticks” and “Selfie Apps” which allow you to view your camera’s viewfinder in your phone’s monitor allowing for ease in composition, gone are the “Hail Mary” composition where you just pray you included everyone in the photograph. Couples now just hold out their camera or phone on a extension stick replace the middle man.Like Marianna and endless number of others had pleasant exchanges with people from all over the world in that simple moment when they turned to a strangers and universally ask them to make their picture, technology often loses the human part of life in its rush to make our world better. Whether you have seen the Grand Canyon from the North, East, West or South Rim, from a raft or kayak on the Colorado River or by sitting atop a mule or walking in to Indian Gardens or Phantom Ranch and climbing back out. Everyone enjoys the Canyon at their own pace, some never get enough, there is a large number of folks who walk from atop the South Rim down to Phantom Ranch, cross the Colorado River by bridge, climb up to the North Rim, turn around and go back to the South Rim in one day. Who does that ? A surprising enough number of people who love the challenges the Canyon throws at them and finds the challenge fills their inner soul as well as pushing their bodies to overcome natures obstacles. Rather than being punished on the trail-some want to experience the Canyon on the back of a mule and are willing to pay $550 for one or $960 for two to overnight at Phantom Ranch. But first, riders must be at least 4 feet 7 inches in height and must speak and understand English, must be in good physical condition, should not be afraid of heights or large animals, and cannot be pregnant. Finally must weigh less than $200 full dressed.
Mule rides from the South Rim can be reserved through: Xanterra Parks & Resorts. Call (303) 297-2757 or toll free (888) 297-2757
Xanterra Parks & Resorts, 6312 S Fiddlers Green Circle, Suite 600 N, Greenwood Village, CO 80111 Visit: www.grandcanyonlodges.com
For Day Before waiting list information, call (928) 638-2631 or contact the Bright Angel Lodge transportation desk inside the park.
“I have come here to see the Grand Canyon of Arizona, because in that canyon Arizona has a natural wonder, which, so far as I know, is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world. I shall not attempt to describe it, because I cannot. I could not choose words that would convey or that could convey to any outsider what that canyon is. I want to ask you to do one thing in connection with it in your own interest and in the interest of the country–to keep this great wonder of nature as it now is. I was delighted to learn of the wisdom of the Santa Fe railroad people in deciding not to build their hotel on the brink of the canyon. I hope you will not have a building of any kind, not a summer cottage, a hotel or anything else to mar the wonderful grandeur, the sublimity, the loneliness and beauty of the canyon.El Tovar Grand Canyon first opened for service in 1905. The premier hotel and restaurant at the Grand Canyon was originally operated by the Fred Harvey company. The El Tovar is been the most sought after lodging for over 100 years. In 2005, the Park celebrated the 100th anniversary for this classic historic National Park lodge. It was originally built to accommodate those distinguished passengers who arrived on the Sante Fe Railway. You can make the El Tovar a part of your Grand Canyon vacation if you plan far enough in advance. If you desire to stay at the El Tovar, we recommend that you call Xanterra Parks and Resorts at 1-888-297-2757 at least 18 months in advance.
ABOUT XANTERRA PARKS & RESORTS Open all year, Xanterra South Rim, L.L.C. offers the largest provider of ”in-the-park lodging.” We are authorized by the National Park Service to provide many visitor services within the park: Six distinctive lodges – all lodges are within walking distance of the South Rim! All provide Fine and casual dining, retail shops in unique, historic buildings and the world famous Grand Canyon mule ride, as well as, motorcoach tours of the park.
“THUNDER RIVER”, Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater once said was his favorite spot in all of Arizona. He was mesmerized by a river appearing wild in the wall of a rock cliff and watching it tumbled down the rock and create Deer Creek, a trusted water source.
One late afternoon sitting alone at a random roadside pullout a car full of tourists pulled into the drive and out jumped one nice Asian lady who did a quick left to right scan with her video camera and jumped back into the crowded car and spun off. I figured she was the trip photographer and they were running late so she jumped out to record the vista and would share her video with her companions at trips end. It is also possible that some find one vista of the Grand Canyon looks a lot like the last, hopefully not! I would like to think others share my love for the beauty of the American SouthWest and no place is more iconic of America’s grandeur and exceptionalism and its beauty changes constantly with the light.
Activist say the Grand Canyon is facing the most serious threat in its 95-year history. It would alter the natural beauty of the canyon and encroach on its borders. Secondly, a major housing and commercial development, jeopardizes the fragile ecology and water supply on the arid South Rim. The Tusayan development would add 2,200 homes and 3 million square feet of commercial space to a town two blocks long. Park officials say existing development around the park and the scarcity of water have already stressed the park’s ability to handle visitors and new projects will only make matters worse.
LA Times reports water is already so precious in the park’s resident elk herd have figured how to operate the Grand Canyon’s new water faucets
and began serving themselves. A young elk defending his water fountain began chasing away all who would drink. The park imports all water for its South Rim hotels, restaurants and amenities from springs on the north side of the canyon. An antiquated aluminum pipeline threads 13 miles though the serpentine fissures on the canyon floor, then up a mile of sheer rock on the South Rim. The pipeline regularly breaks down, requiring helicopters and burros to ferry crews at a cost of $25,000 per service call.
The park would like to replace the water system, but the price tag — as much as $150 million — is more than twice the yearly construction budget for all 400 parks in the National Park Service system.
Park rangers in Grand Canyon National Park in 1995 had to kill off two dozen mule deer that were hooked on junk food left by visitors. The deer had become addicted to Cheetos, Fritos and candy that tourists picked up from a nearby ranch. Once hooked, the deer lost their natural ability to digest vegetation, ranger David Haskell said. “They’ve become in extremely poor health, almost starving.” Haskell called junk food the “crack cocaine of the deer world.”
Only the South Kaibab, Bright Angel, and North Kaibab Trails (known as the Corridor Trails) are maintained and patrolled on a regular basis. These three trails meet at the bottom near the only bridges that span the Colorado River. Together, they create a popular cross-canyon “corridor”. The Corridor Trails offer expansive views, reliable water sources, great camping, and the opportunity for hiking in and out on different trails. Backcountry rangers highly recommend this area, especially for your first Grand Canyon adventure.
Gary Olson recently made the hike into the depths of the Canyon from the South Rim to Phantom Ranch. “Yeah, it was my 14th time to the bottom, probably my last hiking it. Just too tough humping it out, although I did it in just under 6 hours, always a benchmark time for me. This trip was with 11 other members of the Southern Arizona Hiking Club, all but 3 of them older than me. I finished the trips in and out at least an hour and a half faster than many.”
“Last time I hiked the Canyon was at least 8 years ago. Few things change other than the trail and those hiking it. The South Kaibab Trail was in terrible shape, worst I’ve seen it. Huge holes from the mule hooves, which makes for awkward hiking at best and very tiring. One in our group misjudged a hole, tumbled on his face and had to turn back.”
“I passed a drover with his pack train going in and asked about his animals kicking holes in the trail. He said it was rain water causing the holes, which, of course, was bullshit. We discussed it some at the bottom. One contended the park service fills the holes twice a year and we were just early for the latest repair efforts. I don’t know about that, but the constant pressure from the animals certainly exacts a toll on the trail and the hikers for the sake of profits. The Bright Angel was much more user friendly as usual but very slushy the last half mile.”
“Everyone in our group remarked at the number of French people on the trail, noteworthy given recent events in Paris. Lots of Asians, and a good sprinkling of Middle Eastern-looking types.”
“Usual mix of Americans, just younger (or am I just older?). More teens than I’ve seen before, bopping along the trail with no packs and light to inadequate footwear, passing me like I was standing still; they seemed oblivious to the potential for problems. Even toddlers and babes in arms making their way down Bright Angel. I hiked out hopscotching with a group of 6 with a very talkative guide, who sounded like a blowhard from my knowledge about the Canyon. An old guy like me and 5 relatives from 20s to 40s. Strange thing was they were equally divided, half from Maine, half from Hawaii.” Gary Olson
For Info on Camping and Backpacking in the Grand Canyon…click here
HIKING THE GRAND CANYON BACKCOUNTRY …. CLICK HERE
Hikers can walk down the three most popular trails — Bright Angel and South Kaibab from the South Rim, and North Kaibab from the North Rim — as far as they’d like, although the National Park Service discourages trips to the Colorado River and back in a single day. Each of the three proposals for revising the backcountry management plan would institute a day-use permit for hiking more than 5 miles on those trails and at least a $5 fee. Park officials say it’s meant to cut down on overcrowding farther below and improve the experience for hikers. The park would reserve the right to limit group sizes and set daily caps.
TELL THE PARK WHAT YOU THINK
The three options for backcountry management took years to develop. Each has a different focus from balancing recreation with resource protection, to solitude to expanding recreation activities. Another option would leave things as is. The public has 90 days to comment. Park officials are trying to get a better handle on how many people head into the canyon and to the most primitive areas with recent proposals to manage the backcountry. They say the trails are too congested and hikers complain of noise, trash along the trailss and long lines for toilets. The park says it will be a year or more before a final decision is made.
For more information, go to www.parkplanning.nps.gov/grca
The park also wants to monitor relatively new activities like rim-to-rim excursions, canyoneering, climbing and short rafting trips on the Colorado River to get backpackers to the other side. The proposals aim to reduce conflicts among outdoor groups seeking the solitude of the backcountry and to ensure the park’s resources are protected. Between 30,000 and 35,000 people a year spend the night in the backcountry, according to park officials.
WHAT IS THE BACKCOUNTRY?
Anything below the rim of the Grand Canyon is considered the backcountry. Much of it has been managed as a wilderness area since 1980, which means motorized travel, power drilling to place bolts into rocks and helicopters largely are prohibited. The backcountry is divided into four zones that range from having developed campsites and lodging, water faucets and well-maintained trails to absolutely no amenities and only natural water sources. Overnight stays in the inner canyon require a backcountry permit.
Havasupai means people of the blue-green waters. The spectacular waterfalls and isolated community within the Havasupai Indian Reservation attract thousands of visitors each year. The Havasupai are intimately connected to the water and the land. This blue- green water is sacred to the Havasupai. It flows not only across the land, but also through each tribal member. When you enter their land, you enter their home, their place of origin.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Grand Canyon…click here
Each year, over 20,000 visitors hike, ride horses, or fly by helicopter the last 8 miles into the canyon where the Havasupai Indians live. Tourists from around the world come to Havasupai to see this remote Indian village tucked away in the Grand Canyon, to see the last U.S. mail mule train in the country, to see the turquoise blue water and travertine pools of Cateract Creek, and to see the beauty of Navajo, Havasu and Mooney Waterfalls, and to camp, swim and play in this unbelievable setting. Visitors to Havasu Canyon assume all risks while in the canyon and should come prepared. Be aware! Havasu Canyon is a fragile environment and is subject to flash floods as are all canyons in the region.
LAS VEGAS GRAND CANYON TOURS….CLICK HERE
Supai village, is located in Havasu Canyon, a large tributary on the south side of the Colorado River, is not accessible by road. The Havasupai Tribe administers the land, which lies outside the boundary and jurisdiction of Grand Canyon National Park. Approximate driving time from Grand Canyon Village (South Rim) is four hours. West from Williams on I-40 to Seligman, turn off on U.S. 66. Look for Indian Highway 18.
Please note, if you do not have a reservation, and just show up – you will be billed at twice the amount of the regular price. That’s $114 plus tax per person not $57.
According to the tribal website the Havasupai Reservation is largely dependent on tourism as the primary revenue generator of the Havasupai Tribe and individual tribal members.Operation Supai
began in 1995 when the Northern Arizona Marine Corps League requested a squadron to deliver goods to the Havasupai. HMM-764 was selected for the mission, and the squadron has delivered goods every year for 17 years to the tribe which consists of around 300 people. HMM-764 partners with the local Marine Toys for Tots program based in Flagstaff and St. Mary’s Food Bank every year to bring 150 bags of toys to over 100 children and 100 boxes of food and turkeys to the small, remote tribe. Their CH-46 helicopters allow them to deliver the goods down into the Grand Canyon where the Havasupai live. The Grand Canyon airport serves as a staging area to load goods and personnel and refuel the helicopters. The Havasupai Reservation is remotely near the southwest corner of the Grand Canyon National Park outside of the main park. The Havasupai Tribe is a primary source of employment for the Havasupai tribal members. Tourism provides revenues for the Havasupai Reservation and the Havasupai Tribe is actively engaged in the tourism business.The Havasupai has four tribal enterprises: Havasupai Tourism, the 24-room Havasupai Lodg, Havasupai Cafe, and Havasupai Trading Post. The four tribal enterprises are primary generators of revenue for the Havasupai Tribe and its members. Contact Information: Tel: 928 448 2111 or 928 448 2201 Email: lodge@havasupai-nsn-gov The Tourism Office (the Camping Office) is the point of contact for all reservations except for the Lodge. You must call the lodge directly to make a reservation or inquiry about a room.
Example Camping Fees: Note these charges double if you don’t have a reservation…For Party of 4: 2 adults, 2 children ages 14 & 10 Hiking in and camping for 2 nights
Per night Camping Fees
“We have no reservation but here we are anyways “ Camping Fees are doubled ! $651.20 now not $325.60 !
For camping reservations, please call:1-928-448-2141 or 1-928-448-2121 or 1-928-448-2174 or or 1-928-448-2180 If lines are busy, keep trying! They try to answer all calls. The Camp office needs to know your Desired dates and Number of people in your party and Number of nights of camping (This is NOT an overnight adventure 3 days is best…)
The Grand Canyon Skywalk is located, not in Grand Canyon National Park, but at Grand Canyon West, on the Hualapai Indian Reservation, approximately halfway between Las Vegas and Grand Canyon’s South Rim. It is a three-hour drive from Las Vegas by way of Hoover Dam, a six-hour drive from Phoenix through Wickenburg and Kingman, or a five-hour drive from the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. The other side of the canyon can be seen three miles away. The Skywalk is not directly above the main canyon, or Granite Gorge, which contains the Colorado River. Rather, it instead extends out over a side canyon. No more than 120 persons are permitted on the structure at one time, cameras, cellphones and all personal belongings must be checked and everyone’s shoes are covered with cloth booties to avoid scuffing the glass view of the canyon.
Don Havatone, of the Hualapai tribe, watches the rollout of the Skywalk on the Hualapai Indian Reservation at Grand Canyon West, Ariz., Wednesday, March 7, 2007. The tribe will open it to the public later this month, charging $25 per person in addition to other entry fees. Organizers expect the Skywalk to become the main draw in a community of tribal attractions that includes a cowboy town, an Indian village, helicopter tours and Hummer rides through the outback. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin and his wife Lois, waves to the crowd after making the ceremonial first walk Tuesday afternoon, March, 20, 2007, on the glass-bottomed Grand Canyon Skywalk located at Grand Canyon West’s Eagle Point in Arizona. Indian leaders, former astronauts and other visitors stepped gingerly beyond the Grand Canyon’s rim Tuesday, staring through a glass floor and into the 4,000-foot chasm below during the opening ceremony for a new observation deck. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Rob Schumacher) ** MARICOPA COUNTY OUT, MESA TRIBUNE OUT, MAGS OUT, NO SALES **
Tourists walk on the glass-bottomed Skywalk that extends 70 feet over the edge of Grand Canyon West’s Eagle Point, Wednesday, March 28, 2007, in northwestern Arizona. The Grand Canyon Skywalk opened to the general public on the Hualapai Indian Reservation. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Rob Schumacher) ** MARICOPA COUNTY OUT, MESA TRIBUNE OUT, MAGS OUT, NO SALES **
Famed astronaut, Buzz Aldrin, the Apollo lunar explorer lead the first walkers onto the Grand Canyon Glass Skywalk in a private ceremony on March 20, 2007. The Skywalk is the cornerstone of a larger plan by the Hualapai tribe, which hopes the structure will be the catalyst for a 9,000-acre development called Grand Canyon West. Future plans call for a museum, movie theater, VIP lounge, gift shop, restaurants and a golf course. There are plans for a high-end restaurant called The Skywalk Café, where visitors will be able to dine outdoors at the canyon rim. There would be cable cars to ferry visitors from the canyon rim to the Colorado River, which has been previously inaccessible, except by helicopter.
The SKYWALK Legacy Gold Package Includes:
– Entrance Fee to the Hualapai Tribal Lands
– Skywalk ticket to walk on the glass bridge over the Grand Canyon.
– Meal at viewpoint of your choice.
– Photo opportunities with Hualapai Members
– Hop-on-Hop-off shuttle to all 3 viewpoints
Tourists walk on the glass-bottomed Skywalk that extends 70 feet over the edge of Grand Canyon West’s Eagle Point, Wednesday, March 28, 2007, in northwestern Arizona. The Grand Canyon Skywalk opened to the public on the Hualapai Indian Reservation. (Arizona Republic Rob Schumacher)
$80.94 Per Person: Be sure to allow 3 to 4 hours for your visit
Skywalk ticket to walk on the glass bridge over the Grand Canyon
Meal at viewpoint of your choice and photo ops with Hualapai Members
Hop-on-Hop-off Shuttle to All 3 Viewpoints: Eagle Point, Guano Point, Hualapai RanchVisitors may purchase professional photographs of their visit to the Skywalk in the gift shop. Personal cameras -OR- Cell Phones are NOT allowed on the Skywalk itself; along with other personal property, all must be stored in a locker before entering the Skywalk. Grand Canyon West is located on the Hualapai’s Tribal lands, and the National Park Passes and other Entrance Fee’s DO NOT apply at Grand Canyon West. Info&Reser: 1-888-868-9378 Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking eastward from the popular South Rim, visitors could soon see a construction as workers build restaurants, hotels and shops on a distant mesa on the Navajo Indian reservation. The developers also plan a gondola ride from those attractions to whisk tourists to the canyon floor, where they would stroll along an elevated riverside walkway to a restaurant at the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers.
The question before the Navajo Tribe being argued “Is it the best thing to do to sacrifice this nationally important, internationally important resource, the Grand Canyon, and the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers in the name of economic development?” The confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado River is a sacred place to many Navajo, to the Hopi, to the Zuni and to other tribes, and it’s an internationally important place as well.
“There should be some places that you just do not mine. Uranium is a special concern because it is both a toxic heavy metal and a source of radiation. I worry about uranium escaping into the local water, and about its effect on fish in the Colorado River at the bottom of the gorge, and on the bald eagles, California condors and bighorn sheep that depend on the Canyon’s seeps and springs. More than a third of the Canyon’s species would be affected if water quality suffered.”
— Steve Martin, former Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent
Permanently polluted land and water are a direct result of federal programs that encouraged uranium prospecting on public lands beginning in the 1950s. That mining and milling boom in the Four Corners area lasted for about three decades before going bust. When the bottom dropped out of the uranium market, the industry went belly-up, leaving thousands of poisonous surface sites and deadly groundwater plumes.
In 1979, an earthen dam breached, releasing 1,100 tons of radioactive mill wastes and 90 million gallons of contaminated water into a tributary of the Little Colorado River. In 1984, a flash flood washed tons of high-grade uranium ore from Hack Canyon Mine into Kanab Creek, which drains into Grand Canyon. Located within the Park’s south rim, the Orphan Mine continues to contaminate creeks, prompting the National Park Service to warn backpackers along the Tonto Trail not to use water from two drainages.
Today, the NPS advises against “drinking and bathing” in the Little Colorado River, Kanab Creek, and other Grand Canyon waters where “excessive radionuclides” have been found. Although it is difficult to attribute this contamination to any specific activity, there can be little doubt that the cumulative effects of mining, milling, and transporting radioactive materials are causing long-term, adverse effects on people, water and other resource values in the Grand Canyon region.
Beginning in 2006, the price for uranium began to rise. Thousands of new claims have been filed within watersheds that drain directly into Grand Canyon National Park and the Colorado River. A Canadian-owned company reopened the White Mesa Mill in Blanding, Utah, and began processing uranium for powering nuclear reactors in South Korea and France. Without requiring any revisions to outdated environmental assessments, the BLM automatically allowed the same company to begin opening mines that were abandoned by its previous owners in the 1980s.
“This is bad news for protecting Grand Canyon and tribal sacred sites,” said Roger Clark of the Grand Canyon Trust. “Over the last two decades, we’ve learned how uranium mining can pollute aquifers that feed canyon springs and Havasu Falls. But the Forest Service has ignored that information and failed to require Energy Fuels to take reasonable steps to prevent contamination of water, sacred sites and public lands.”
“This is bad news for protecting Grand Canyon and tribal sacred sites,” said Roger Clark of the Grand Canyon Trust. “Over the last two decades, we’ve learned how uranium mining can pollute aquifers that feed canyon springs and Havasu Falls. But the Forest Service has ignored that information and failed to require Energy Fuels to take reasonable steps to prevent contamination of water, sacred sites and public lands.”
The Forest Service first approved the Canyon mining plan in 1986, despite a challenge from the Havasupai tribe. Uranium prices plummeted shortly thereafter and the mine closed in 1990 before producing any uranium. The Forest Service allowed the Canyon Mine to reopen in 2012 without a plan update or environmental assessment to reflect the extensive changed circumstances since the original review and approval. These changes include the 2010 designation of the Red Butte traditional cultural property, reintroduction of the endangered California condor in the vicinity of the Canyon Mine, and the 2012 decision to ban new uranium mining across 1 million acres near the Grand Canyon.
“This uranium project could haunt the Grand Canyon region for decades to come,” said Katie Davis with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Uranium mining leaves a highly toxic legacy that endangers human health, wildlife and the streams and aquifers that feed the Grand Canyon. It’s disappointing to see the Forest Service prioritizing the extraction industry over the long-term protection of a place as iconic as the Grand Canyon.”
Geologists have warned that uranium mining could deplete and contaminate aquifers that discharge into Grand Canyon and that cleaning them up would be next to impossible. A 2010 U.S. Geological Survey study found elevated uranium levels in soil and water sources associated with past uranium mining.
This summer U.S. District Judge David Campbell denied a moritorium to halt uranium mining at the Canyon Uranium Mine. Only six miles from the Canyon’s south rim, The Havasupai Tribe and several conservation groups had challenged the U.S. Forest Service to reopen the mine without consulting with the Havasupai or completing an environmental review. Opponents fear the mine endangers wildlife, endangered species, Tribal Cultural values and the risk of toxic uranium waste contaminating the aquifers and streams in the Grand Canyon feeding the Colorado River.
“We will continue to fight to protect Grand Canyon, its waters and its watershed,” said Sandy Bahr, director of Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter. “The Forest Service should consider the harm this mine could cause to the groundwater and ultimately the waters in Grand Canyon National Park. We are extremely disappointed in the judge’s failure to recognize that.”
Leave it as it is. Man cannot improve on it; not a bit. The ages have been at work on it and man can only mar it. What you can do is to keep it for your children and your children’s children and for all who come after you, as one of the great sights which every American, if he can travel at all, should see. “Keep the Grand Canyon of Arizona as it is!” concluded President Teddy Roosevelt during his first visit to Arizona on Wednesday, May 6, 1903, 112 years ago…
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