October 06, 2016

Words and Photos by Trevor Cobb.

It’s late in the day the last week of August. We glide atop the final high flows of the month inCataract — a storied dory rowed for a time by Kenton Grau of the Emerald Mile, and now, byBrad Dimock, preeminent Grand Canyon historian and a river legend — though he’d no-doubt deny the claim.

This work of art was originally hand-made for Martin Litton, one of the Grand Canyon’s most unrelenting defenders. We float by a proposed development site in the heart of the canyon, a project that threatens everything the man represents.

River mile 61.7, where the Little Colorado River joins the main stem of the Colorado River. Many Hopi believe their ancestors emerged from the previous world from a travertine rock dome not far upstream.

This is also near the site of the proposedGrand Canyon Escalade, which stands to transform a section of this ancient wilderness into a shopping center, food court and a Gondola, shipping up to 10,000 tourists a day into the canyon.

A concept map of the proposed development project, which would cover 420 acres of land (Source: Grand Canyon Trust).

Archeological evidence suggests intermittent occupation by Native Americans in parts of the Grand Canyon for over 10,000 years. Traditional land users have not consented to the project, and the list of groups opposing it is substantial.

News of the recent resurgence of the Grand Canyon Escalade proposal filtered through our group. There are no shortage of reasons the project must be stopped. To share a few:

  • No environmental impact assessment has been planned.
  • The project would result in cultural desecration of a sacred area.
  • Groups who oppose the project include Navajo Chapters, Hopi Nation, Zuni Nation and the All India Pueblo Council, among others.

To the greedy developers seeking to line their pockets at the expense of this iconic landscape, we echo the words Teddy Roosevelt famously proclaimed “Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.”

Take Action

Speak out against the Grand Canyon Escalade project: