On August 8th, a broad coalition of Tribes, Arizonans, hunters and anglers, and other stakeholders applauded the Biden administration for taking action to permanently conserve nearly 1 million acres of fish- and wildlife-rich public lands and waters in Arizona via the federal Antiquities Act.
Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument includes Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands near Grand Canyon National Park. No state or private lands are a part of the national monument. In addition to being culturally important to a dozen Tribes, the new monument will safeguard a critical watershed, healthy fisheries and valuable habitat for big game, including mule deer and elk.
The monument will continue to be managed by multiple-use agencies, and the state of Arizona will retain wildlife management authority. The proclamation recognizes the central role of the region’s wildlife to hunting and fishing as well as the importance of access to continue those traditions. Further, hunters and anglers and the Arizona Game and Fish Department will be represented on an advisory committee that will help guide management.
“Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument is a wild landscape that supports a world-renowned mule deer herd,” said Michael Cravens, vice chair of the Arizona chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. “Declaring this iconic landscape a national monument, along with preserving recreational access and keeping authority over wildlife management in the capable hands of our Arizona Game and Fish Department, not only successfully protects this region from the adverse effects of uranium and hardrock mining; it also preserves the imperative connection that people have to the land.”
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) and numerous partners have promoted the area’s long-term conservation for years. In 2012, a 20-year ban on new mining in the area was implemented under the Obama administration. BHA advocated for the minerals withdrawal and supported the Grand Canyon Protection Act, which would have made the withdrawal permanent.
“Today’s announcement marks a win for millions of Americans, including Tribal members, Arizonans, and hunters and anglers, who have for years advocated for the long-term conservation of the unique landscapes, pristine waterways, cultural values and vital fish and wildlife habitat in the Grand Canyon region,” said John Gale, BHA vice president of policy and government relations. “We offer our thanks to the Biden administration for heeding our collective calls, and we are grateful to the voices of many, in particular the Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition, who set us on a path toward the victory we now have attained.”
The new monument marks the fifth time President Biden has used the Antiquities Act to conserve important landscapes, including Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument in Colorado last October and, in March of this year, Avi Kwa Ame National Monument in Nevada and Castner Range National Monument in west Texas.
BHA has consistently advocated for America’s national monuments system and the judicious use of the Antiquities Act as a way to permanently conserve important lands and waters. Key to achieving this outcome is a process that adheres to specific principles and is locally driven, transparent, incorporates the science-based management of habitat, and upholds existing hunting and fishing opportunities.