Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation opposes proposed Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission recently sent a letter to President Barack Obama opposing designation of the proposed Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (www.rmef.org) shares its opposition.

We believe the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and state of Arizona already manage the lands in question for multiple uses with wildlife and natural resource conservation as top priorities.

Arizona already has 18 national monuments - more than any other state. These areas include public recreational opportunities - including hunting - yet often have restrictions that impede hunter opportunity and the ability of the Arizona Game and Fish Department to manage wild game. The fact is, many of these areas are managed as wilderness yet were not subject to Congressional review and approval.

We are concerned the Grand Canyon Watershed and Kaibab National Forest could be shut down for hunting and recreational shooting without public comment, usurping state management authority.

National monument designation can also create funding problems for state agencies. State and federal land within a monument that produces revenue from taxation, timber, mining, grazing and other uses becomes unavailable for the state's general fund, schools and infrastructure. Monument designation should first include detailed economic impact analysis.

The proponents of monument designation listed five threats to the area as reasons for additional protection. We argue the supposed threats are Without merit.

Uranium mining

The Interior Department instituted a 20-year moratorium on new mine development in the proposed monument. There is no immediate proposal for new mine development.

Logging

There has been little timber harvest in the area other than salvage from wildfires. The current forest plan adequately addressed restoration activities and old growth timber protection. Monument designation will hinder these efforts by restricting restoration plans.

Livestock grazing

Most of the livestock operations north of the Colorado River have recently been conducted by the Grand Canyon Trust. The Trust has taken a progressive stance in dealing with grazing issues, improving the range resource. The current forest plan and BLM Resource Management plans address future grazing activities.

Primitive Roads - Both the USFS and the BLM have taken actions to reduce the number of existing roads in the area and properly manage access.

Wildlife migration corridors

Wildlife migration corridors have been managed for nearly 40 years in this area by state wildlife agencies, highway departments, the USFS and the BLM. Agencies are acutely aware of the need to maintain them.

We are confident in the wildlife, recreation and land management abilities of the State of Arizona and federal agencies working in the Grand Canyon Watershed and see no reason for national monument designation both north and south of the Colorado River.

We strongly support the multiple use management administered by the Kaibab National Forest and the BLM, Arizona Strip District. We recognize America's legacy of wildlife and wildlands is a direct reflection of our national wealth, which is ultimately derived from our natural resources. As such, we strongly support responsible multiple use of these lands and cannot support any actions that will unnecessarily restrict them.

Monument designation will serve only to complicate land and wildlife management objectives.

David Allen,

president and CEO of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

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