The Grand Canyon is a place visited by nearly 5 million visitors a year – a place that is not only a national icon but is famous around the world. More than 1.2 million acres, Grand Canyon National Park is a magnificent and threatened landscape – one that reflects the challenges facing many of the 392 national park sites across the country.
“National parks connect Americans to our national heritage and protect the natural landscapes that help to define us,” said NPCA’s Southwest Regional Director David Nimkin. “Our new report highlights the challenges facing the Grand Canyon, many of which also affect other national park sites nationwide.”
NPCA’s new Center for State of the Parks report finds that external threats and funding shortfalls at the Grand Canyon are creating significant problems that if not addressed will complicate and compromise resource protection and management. Key report findings and recommendations include:
Colorado River basin water flow and management must incorporate adaptive strategies for protecting and restoring native animals, natural habitats, cultural resources and backcountry recreation opportunities along the river corridor.
Mining activities on lands adjacent to the park, including uranium extraction, could result in environmental and watershed contamination. Potentially harmful materials from past mining activities are still present in parts of the park.
Sound pollution from scenic and commercial air plane overflights in the park is a major concern.
Air pollution from sources as far as more than 100 miles away has the potential to obscure scenic vistas, harm human health, and damage park resources.
An additional $6.2 million in base funding is needed annually to support basic park operations, and the park suffers from a more than $300 million maintenance backlog.
“National parks face many challenges – the impacts of climate change, multiple sources of air pollution, competition for water, loss of habitat, and insufficient funding to support basic park operations,” said Ron Tipton, NPCA’s Senior Vice President for Policy. “We must ensure our American treasures are preserved and protected, unimpaired, for future generations to enjoy.”
“Grand Canyon National Park is a global icon and the many challenges found at the park are reflected in all our national parks,” said Roger Clark of the Grand Canyon Trust.
With the upcoming centennial of the National Park System in 2016, the new assessment reflects the important role national parks play in preserving lands, protecting wildlife, and providing recreational and educational opportunities for Americans. NPCA believes the Obama Administration’s America's Great Outdoors Initiative can provide the opportunity for collaborative work by federal, regional, state, and local agencies, as well as private landowners and citizens, to ensure our national parks and outdoor legacy are preserved. To learn more, visit: www.npca.org/americasgreatoutdoors.
“Our national parks provide all Americans with a place to reconnect with families, our shared heritage, and the traditional American values that make this nation great,” said Nimkin. “An investment in our national parks is an investment in the nation’s people and our future.”
Since 1919, the National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice of the American people in protecting and enhancing our National Park System. NPCA, its members and partners, work together to protect the park system and preserve our nation’s natural, historical and cultural heritage.
Read NPCA’s full report, Grand Canyon National Park: Resource Challenges and Future Directions, to find out more about these and other issues facing the park. Also included in the report are NPCA’s recommendations for actions that should be taken to protect park resources.