For Immediate Release, March 4, 2016
||Ted Zukoski, Earthjustice, (303) 623-9466 ext. 2622, firstname.lastname@example.org
Katie Davis, Center for Biological Diversity, (801) 560-2414, email@example.com
Alicyn Gitlin, Sierra Club, (928) 774-6514, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kati Schmidt, National Parks Conservation Association, (415) 847-1768, email@example.com
Roger Clark, Grand Canyon Trust, (928) 890-7515, firstname.lastname@example.org
Victory for Grand Canyon: Forest Service Rejects Project That Would Spell Disaster
Agency Denies Stilo Development Group’s Plan to Build Road,
Infrastructure Through Kaibab National Forest
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.— Today the U.S. Forest Service rejected a proposal to widen roads and build infrastructure through the Kaibab National Forest that would have paved the way for a sprawling urban development near the southern entrance of Grand Canyon National Park. Stilo Development Group, an Italian corporation, sought to construct more than 2,100 housing units and 3 million square feet of commercial space, including hotels, a spa and a conference center in the tiny town of Tusayan, a plan that would have threatened water resources and put wildlife in harm’s way.
Dave Uberuaga, superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park, called the proposal one of the greatest threats to Grand Canyon in the nearly 100-year history of the park. Such sentiment has been broadly echoed by American Indian tribes, local residents, city leaders, and local and national environmental organizations.
“This is a great day for Grand Canyon National Park and those who love its stunning vistas, abundant wildlife, and rich cultural heritage. The Forest Service was right to say yes to the public interest by protecting one of the most awe-inspiring places on earth, and no to the bloated development plans that threatened the park,” Ted Zukoski, Earthjustice attorney said. “Stilo’s proposal endangers water, wildlife, and wilderness that make the Grand Canyon a landscape revered in America and around the world. We’ll absolutely be there to defend this important decision.”
“The Forest Service’s rejection of Stilo’s proposal to allow for roads to build a mega-mall development at the Grand Canyon’s doorstep is a huge win for the park and all those who love it,” said Kevin Dahl, Arizona program manager of National Parks Conservation Association. “Expanding Tusayan was an ill-conceived idea and would have been a massive threat to one of our country’s crown jewels. It would have threatened critical water resources, essential for the park’s fragile and ecologically important springs and side creeks, and would have posed serious harm to Havasu Creek with its famous turquoise waterfalls.”
“The Forest Service has made the right decision to protect our nation’s crown jewel national park and our national forest from a massive development. Grand Canyon’s visitors will benefit forever from the decision to protect the park from increased traffic, noise, light pollution, and litter. The lush springs in Grand Canyon will remain for the benefit of wildlife and people; their water won’t be diverted to a massive commercial enterprise,” said Alicyn Gitlin, Grand Canyon Program Coordinator for Sierra Club.
"Americans demanded protection of Grand Canyon, and we thank the Forest Service for listening," said Katie Davis, public lands campaigner for the Center for Biological Diversity. "Today’s decision means there is one less threat to this national treasure. We hope more positive decisions are made to protect the water and wildlife of this iconic region.”
Roger Clark, with the Grand Canyon Trust said: "Congratulations and thanks to the Forest Service for correctly recognizing that the development could 'substantially and adversely affect Tribal lands and the Grand Canyon National Park.' It got our public interest priorities right."
Earthjustice, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Grand Canyon Trust, Sierra Club, and the Center for Biological Diversity — along with the city of Flagstaff and regional businesses — all opposed Stilo’s proposal, saying that it would negatively impact surrounding communities and Grand Canyon National Park. The groups previously urged the Forest Service to reject the permit application for the numerous threats it poses.
The Forest Service’s letter rejecting the proposal is here.