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For Immediate Release, January 27, 2009

Contact: Taylor McKinnon, (928) 310-6713, tmckinnon@biologicaldiversity.org

Suit Filed to Protect Public Lands Near Grand Canyon;
Bureau of Land Management Plans Would Harm
National Monuments and Endangered Species

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.— The Center for Biological Diversity today filed suit against the Bureau of Land Management for adopting three illegal plans for management of public lands immediately north of the Grand Canyon. The plans govern most activities on the “Arizona Strip” — public lands in northwestern Arizona located between the Grand Canyon and Utah, which include the Grand Canyon-Parashant and Vermilion Cliffs national monuments.

The agency’s plans violate the National Environmental Policy Act and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act by authorizing off-road vehicle use and livestock grazing, harming imperiled species, ruining fragile ecosystems, and threatening the wild and scenic character of the monuments.

“These lands were protected as national monuments specifically to prevent this type of resource-focused abuse,” said Taylor McKinnon, public lands program director with the Center for Biological Diversity in Flagstaff. “The plans are supported by neither law nor science.”

The plans’ provisions for adding hundreds of miles of off-road vehicle routes and greenlighting extensive livestock grazing directly conflict with the presidential proclamations that created the monuments. Such uses would seriously threaten the habitat of rare and protected species and numerous archeological and cultural sites.

“Conserving land and species was supposed to have been a top priority for these national monuments,” said McKinnon. “We will ensure it remains so.”

Proclamation 7374, signed by President Clinton on November 9, 2000, was clear in its intent to protect Vermilion Cliffs from off-road vehicle use and grazing:

“Amid the sandstone slickrock, brilliant cliffs, and rolling sandy plateaus of the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument lie outstanding objects of scientific and historic interest. … Full of natural splendor and a sense of solitude, this area remains remote and unspoiled, qualities that are essential to the protection of the scientific and historic objects it contains. … For the purpose of protecting the objects identified above, the Secretary shall prohibit all motorized and mechanized vehicle use off road, except for emergency or authorized administrative purposes.”

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