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Conservation groups push against proposed Grand Canyon development

PHOENIX — Conservation groups have urged the U.S. Forest Service to reject a proposal that serves as the first step to a large development near the Grand Canyon.

“When you’re talking about a development that would rob water from the Grand Canyon, that’s huge,” Sandy Bahr with the Sierra Club said.

“We think the Forest Service can and should say no and the people will express significant opposition to this proposal.”

The proposal submitted to the Forest Service would expand both road and utility access in the Kaibab National Forest.

It would lead to a development that would place about 2,100 homes and 3 million square feet of retail space within one mile of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim.

“The Forest Service can and should have rejected it out of hand,” Kevin Dahl with the National Parks Conservation Association said.

“The level of this proposed development, and maybe it wouldn’t be built out to the highest zoning that the town has put there, is so inappropriate to the Grand Canyon experience.”

Dahl said the development would lower the aquifer that feeds Havasu Falls, the cultural foundation of the Havasupai Tribe and large draw for tourists.

Last year, visitors to Arizona’s national parks pumped $837 million into the state’s economy.

The public can comment on the developer- and Tusayan-backed proposal through June 3. The Forest Service will hold informational meetings May 18-20.