FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Federal officials are saying “no” to a proposed
expansion of Walnut Canyon National Monument outside Flagstaff.
The decisions by the National Park Service and the Forest Service to forgo
expanding the 3,600-acre monument or placing a protected status on the
47-square-mile expansion area have left expansion supporters hoping for
congressional action, the Arizona Daily Sun reported.
Federal officials concluded that cultural resources in the proposed expansion
area don’t meet federal requirements for natural significance.
Results of a federal study were presented to Flagstaff and Coconino County
officials on Monday.
The area studied touches residential areas and includes several mesas as well
as archaeological sites and popular areas for rock climbing and other outdoor
Most of the expansion area is national forest, but some is state trust land and
Designating the Walnut Canyon Study Area as a National Conservation Area would
preserve all current activities but protect it from land swaps.
“Now is the time to protect this entire 30,000-acre parcel,” said Alicyn
Gitlin of the Sierra Club. She added that the threat of development has become
greater as 4,500 homes are being proposed on the study-area boundary.
Tom Mackin of the Arizona Wildlife Federation said he would support a
designation as a national conservation area if it allowed all current uses and
stopped development, but he did not believe an expanded national monument was
The current monument, located in pine country east of Flagstaff, includes a
trail for viewing cliff homes inside Walnut Canyon.