A Unique Landscape
Ranging from the arid Sonoran and Great Basin Deserts to lush, boreal Rocky Mountain forests, the proposed Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument is an ecological wonder. The proposed 1.7 million-acre monument embraces one of the most spectacular American landscapes—the Grand Canyon—and encompasses a wild, rugged array of towering cliffs, deeply incised tributary canyons, grasslands, and numerous springs that flow into the Colorado River in Grand Canyon. Unique geologic formations contribute substantially to the proposed Monument’s spectacular biological diversity, with escarpments and canyons dating back millions of years. At least twenty-two sensitive species call the landscape home, including the endangered California condor and the rare northern goshawk.
An Endangered Ecosystem
The North Kaibab Plateau contains the most intact, largely unprotected old-growth forest in the Southwest, including old growth ponderosa pine forests—which constitute one of America’s most endangered ecosystems. Together with the adjacent House Rock Valley, the Kaibab-Paunsagunt Wildlife Corridor, the Kanab Creek Watershed, and the South Rim Headwaters, the Watershed includes areas of critical and significant biological diversity, providing crucial habitat and wildlife movement corridors for a host of distinctive species, including the Kaibab squirrel, the northern goshawk, the Kaibab-Paunsagunt mule deer herd, mountain lion, and the iconic and endangered California condor.
A 12,000-year Human Record
The Grand Canyon Watershed holds lands of great significance to the Kaibab Paiute tribe, as well as Hopi, Zuni, Hualapai, Havasupai, and Navajo tribes. Historically, it was home to the Clovis, Basketmaker, and Puebloan peoples. More than three thousand ancient Native American archaeological sites have been documented in the region, and represent just a fraction of the human history of the area. Ranging from settlements or habitations to temporary camps, granaries and caches, and rock art, some of the sites date as far back as the Paleo-Indian period—11,000 BCE.
The Forest Service currently manages six national monuments, four of which were designated through an act of Congress, and two of which were designated by presidential proclamation. Either approach allows for thorough public involvement and permanent protection of critical federal lands. Only lands owned by the federal government can be declared a national monument by Congress or by the President. The Grand Canyon Watershed could be jointly managed by the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.
Formal designation and permanent protection for the Grand Canyon Watershed allows for continued public access, rights of way, sightseeing, hiking, wildlife observation, birding, hunting, fishing, and many other activities, including traditional tribal access and uses. Permanently protecting this area would conserve, protect, and restore old growth forests and grasslands, important archaeological sites, native wildlife, springs and wetlands, and wildlife migration routes.