Buffering the Grand Canyon


Roosevelt fought fiercely to persuade Congress to preserve the Grand Canyon as a national park. But a cabal of mining outfits and their lobbyists blocked his efforts. After getting nowhere, on July 11, 1908, Roosevelt used his executive authority to unilaterally declare more than 800,000 acres of the Grand Canyon off limits to development. His weapon was the Antiquities Act of 1906, which empowers the president to protect federal lands as national monuments.

This is all the more reason President Obama should follow Roosevelt’s example and use the Antiquities Act to preserve the national forest and other public lands surrounding the Grand Canyon as a national monument. The land is already owned by the government. All mining claims would immediately be rejected. Existing mining operations would be phased out. If the uranium companies want to use the 1872 mining law to exploit the canyon, President Obama should use the 1906 law to stop them.

… “We regard Attic temples and Roman triumphal arches and Gothic cathedrals as a priceless value,” Roosevelt wrote. “But we are, as a whole, still in that low state of civilization where we do not understand that it is also vandalism wantonly to destroy or to permit the destruction of what is beautiful in nature, whether it be a cliff or forest, or a species of mammal or bird.”