Grand Canyon, Oak Flat Provisions Will Protect Important Landscapes, Clean Water, Sacred Sites

PHOENIX —The House Natural Resources Committee’s Build Back Better Act provisions will right an egregious wrong by protecting Chi'Chil Biłdagoteel, also known as Oak Flat, from a destructive proposed copper mine and help safeguard the Grand Canyon from uranium mining for future generations. The proposals keep faith with the arguments the San Carlos Apache and other Indigenous communities have made to Congress to protect sacred landscapes, cultural artifacts, important wildlife habitat, and clean drinking water.

“Chi’chil Biłdagoteel has been a sacred site for Indigenous people since time immemorial. Copper mining in this area would have caused irreparable harm to the lands and waters of the region and would have left another toxic legacy threatening the health and well-being of nearby communities,” said Camilla Simon, executive director of Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting and the Outdoors (HECHO). “Permanently protecting these lands is a victory for wildlife, for clean air and water, and for the sovereignty of Tribal nations. Some places are just too special to risk — like the Grand Canyon, which is not only iconic, but its natural beauty is a gift that future generations should be able to continue to enjoy. Fortunately, the provisions included in the Build Back Better Act will also make that a reality.”

“Permanently protecting wildlife, recreation opportunities, and clean water around the Grand Canyon is long overdue. For too long, the Tribal people and local communities near the national park have been exposed to the toxic effects of uranium mining,” said David Willms, senior director of Western wildlife and conservation at the National Wildlife Federation. “These protections will also safeguard the water source that is vital for the Havasupai tribe and 40 million users downstream.”

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