Sigh. It’s so beautiful, isn’t it? The Grand Canyon attracts countless tourists each year, all who want to bask in its majesty.
So, um, let’s start construction on it?
A group of Italian developers is planning three million square feet of retail construction, plus 2,200 homes, in Tusayan, a newly incorporated village with a population of just 587 at the entrance to the park, posing what park officials describe as a major threat to the water supply for the Colorado River.
A skywalk finished in 2007 over the western rim of the Grand Canyon, on land owned by the Hualapai tribe, has become an overwhelming success, drawing thousands of visitors a year, most from Las Vegas. Some then take a helicopter ride to the bottom of the canyon, to the distress of conservationists.
“The Grand Canyon is the most protected land in the world,” said David Uberuaga, the park superintendent, as he sat in his office at the headquarters, 10 minutes by foot from the canyon’s rim. “It’s a World Heritage Site. We have the protections of the National Park Service Act, the act that created the Grand Canyon, the Clean Water Act.“
“All that body of law, and I still spend most of my time protecting the place, day in and day out,” he said. “Everybody wants to make a buck off the canyon.”
“It’s crazy to say that a tram and an 1,100-foot walkway is going to scar the Grand Canyon in any way,” said R. Lamar Whitmer, a developer from Scottsdale who is behind the Escalade. “If anything, it will allow people to experience the canyon in a sensitive, respectful way.”
He added, “This project is so important to the Navajo people in terms of not only producing good-paying jobs, but also giving them an opportunity to showcase the culture to the world.”
Ms. Yellowhorse, a leader of the Save the Confluence coalition, said she was intent on protecting land where Indians go to pray and honor their past particularly what is known as the Confluence, the place where the two rivers meet.
“We don’t want to see the site desecrated,” she said. “We don’t want the tram out there. We don’t want people out here.”