Send BLM a card & help protect Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Comment cards must be submitted to the BLM by email, mail, or fax by January 20, 2014.

As you write your holiday cards this season, don’t forget the Bureau of Land Management. The BLM is waiting for a special kind of card from you, a “Comment Card” on how and where cattle should be allowed to graze on some of Utah’s most beautiful public lands in Utah.

Public lands belong to all of us.

Calf Creek corridor, ungrazed.

Calf Creek corridor, ungrazed.

The 1.8 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah, set aside in 1996 for its special plants, geology, archaeology, and wildlife, belongs to you and me.

If we don’t protect it, no one else will.

Excessive grazing reduces parts of the Monument to bare soil.

Excessive grazing reduces parts of the Monument to bare soil. Photo: David deRoulhac.

96% of this desert Monument is open to cattle grazing through private ranching permits, and yet the Monument has never had a grazing plan. Until now.

After 19 years, the Monument has started a public process to develop its first-ever grazing plan.

In January 2014, Grand Canyon Trust, The Wilderness Society, and Great Old Broads for Wilderness submitted a “Sustainable Grazing Alternative”: a proposal for how and where cattle grazing should occur in the Monument. Now the BLM is displaying it as Alternative C, one of the grazing plan proposals they will compare for environmental impacts in their upcoming Environmental Impact Statement, a landmark on the road to developing a grazing plan. Well, most of the Sustainable Grazing Alternative is in Alternative C. (Here‘s where we are in the process).

Here's where we are in the process.

Here’s where we are in the process.

BLM left a few key elements out of Alternative C, including:

1. A process to allow allotments to become free of cattle if permittees relinquish or retire their permit.
2. Processes for the public to participate in decisions about how and where cattle graze in the Monument.
3. A goal that wildlife habitat be protected from cattle.

Please tell BLM to analyze Alternative C and to include all of the Sustainable Grazing Alternative in it.

Print or download a BLM comment card.

Print or download a BLM comment card.

Print the BLM’s comment card, or click here to download an electronic version (then check your downloads folder, where the card will appear as a Word document)

The local county commission and many others are telling the BLM to stop developing a grazing plan. This is public land. The BLM needs your support to move forward and assess the benefits of real, needed changes to cattle grazing.

Comment Card Potlucks

If you live near Moab, Teasdale, Castle Valley, Kanab, or Flagstaff, please join us in January for comment card potlucks—we’ll talk, graze on potluck dishes, and fill out comment cards to let the BLM know the Monument – and a complete Alternative C – matter to us.

Comment cards must be submitted to BLM before January 20, 2015:

mail: BLM, GSENM, 669 S. HWY 89-A, Kanab, Utah 84741
fax: (435) 644-1250

Here’s a summary of why Alternative C is the best option and a detailed chart of what’s still missing from Alternative C.

Your comment card will help protect the natural landscapes and species of this 1.8 million acre public treasure. These are your lands. Your voice counts.

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Beef Up Your Holiday Spread

Kane Beef

Treat yourself and your loved ones to a delicious meal of glazed ribeye, beef wellington, or seared tenderloin sourced from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon this Christmas!

The Grand Canyon Trust has a limited supply of local grass-fed beef from Kane Ranch for sale. We have several cuts available:

Jones family round-upGround Beef (2 lb) — $16
Tenderloin (7 oz) — $16
Ribeye w/bone — $20
Sirloin Steak — $15
NY Strip — $12
T-Bone — $16
Porterhouse — $25

Please Contact Emily Thompson (ethompson[at]grandcanyontrust[dot]org) or call 928.774.7488 to place an order by December 28th, and schedule a pickup. Cash or checks accepted, made payable to North Rim Ranch.

welcome-to-kane-ranch-headquarters-photo-by-kate-wattersTwo Gifts in One
Gifts of Kane Ranch beef are sure to be a cut above other presents under the tree. When you buy T-bones for your dad and sirloins for your in-laws, you are also supporting the Grand Canyon Trust Volunteer Program. Your purchase will help feed our hard working volunteers by paying for our supply of beef for 2015 volunteer trips.


The Jones family, in partnership with the Trust, grazes cattle throughout the Kaibab Plateau, House Rock Valley, and Paria Plateau in northern Arizona. The Kane and Two Mile Ranches use conservation-oriented livestock management to decrease impacts on wildlife species and sensitive habitats. With the help of Trust volunteers, we have removed fences, made other fences pronghorn-friendly, and built escape ramps in water troughs for bats and birds.

Support our work on the North Rim, help feed our volunteers, and buy Kane Ranch beef to stock your friends’ and family’s freezers this winter!

Posted in Land Conservation, Volunteers | Comments Off

Details of proposed Grand Canyon tramway development revealed

Escalade's empty promises

For more than four years, developers have been promising rapid approval by the Navajo Nation Council of a bill in support of “Grand Canyon Escalade”, a proposed resort located above the sacred confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers, including a tramway to carry up to 10,000 tourists a day to the bottom of Grand Canyon.

That legislation and a secretly negotiated “master agreement” have been as elusive as the Holy Grail, until now. A story in the Navajo Times recently revealed details from the consolidated documents.

Among its many promises, is a “brighter future for the families and youth of Bodaway/Gap and the Western Navajo Agency.” But local residents belonging to the Save the Confluence coalition think differently.

Their two-page summary of the nearly 200-page document concludes with the following intelligence test:

Escalade Intelligence Test

The Escalade legislation has yet to be introduced before the Navajo Nation Council, nor has it garnered sufficient political support to attract a sponsor.

To read a copy of the proposed legislation and agreements, please click here.

To read additional comments by Save the Confluence family members, please click here.

Join Grand Canyon Trust’s mailing list to stay up to date on this and other issues.

Posted in Arizona Issues, Grand Canyon Issues, Native America Issues | Comments Off

“Greenstripping”: Restoration Research Goes Wild

A guest post by Claire Martini, Citizen Science Volunteer Coordinator, AmeriCorps 

A few deer hunters we pass along the rutted backroads of the Kaibab Plateau seem surprised by a lifted pick-up full of young women and our truck bed full of seed bags. “What are y’all doin’ out here?” they ask.  I suppose we’re not the usual suspects.  We’re out in the Kaibab National Forest on Kane Ranch as citizen scientists.  Instead of rifles or hunting bows, we’re armed with bright red hand-crank seeders.  Big bags of native seeds are our only ammunition.

Students greenstripping in a burned area.

In June of 2006, a lightning strike ignited the 59,000 acre Warm Fire that burned swaths of the Kaibab National Forest. Here, students plant a greenstrip in the burn area. Author second from right.

This fall, fourteen Grand Canyon Semester students from Northern Arizona University volunteered on a service-learning trip to work on our “Greenstrips” project. Grand Canyon Trust is collaborating with ecologist Dr. Lauren Porensky to provide a field area to study the invasive species Bromus tectorum. Common name? Cheatgrass. Cheatgrass is one of the most pernicious invasive species on the Colorado Plateau and across the West. Fun fact: cheatgrass got its name from the way farmers were “cheated” out of a full harvest when this species infiltrated their wheat fields. Now, when cheatgrass moves into wildlands, we see increased fire frequency and intensity, increased erosion, and decreased species diversity. On the ground it’s easy to understand why cheatgrass is so good at taking over. A low, dense cheatgrass carpet blocks out natives. It’s insidious.  And when it burns, the fires are hot, low, and destructive.

Lauren’s study examines how combining fuel breaks of native grasses and targeted grazing may weaken feedback between fire and cheatgrass invasion. Each time a landscape experiences wildfire, cheatgrass rebounds first. With the Grand Canyon Semester students, we planted five species in fuel breaks across many enclosure/exclosure pairs (meaning some of the fuel breaks will be grazed, others will not). In total, our hand-seeded greenstrips cover 67.2 acres!

“ELEL. POFE.” Botanical abbreviations, at first strange, began rolling off our tongues. Each of us adopted a grass species for the project, working in teams to plant meter-wide strips in randomized order. Out in the field, we spoke in shorthand. No real names necessary. “ACHY, you’re number three. SPCR, four. You’re five, PASM.”

Watch the greenstrippers in action:

On the last morning, we come together to wrap up the project. One student questions the role of humans in invasive species mitigation (he went on to do a semester-long project researching human influence at the ecosystem level). We talk about stewardship. We talk about place. We talk about what it feels like to be young and falling in love with this place.

Each of us gathered around the table in the chilly house that morning shared stories of our indebtedness to places of the heart—to those spaces that shaped who we are or who we wish to become. For some, it began early, growing up near Big Bend National Park, or digging for sandcrabs at the seashore. Others expressed a newfound love discovered during their semester around the Canyon, the excitement of the Inner Gorge and the sanctity of the Vishnu Schist. We held in common the belief that these wild places forged our identity.

Arizona writer Gary Paul Nabhan has asked, “What if every decision-maker were to admit that places can influence our destinies as much as other people can? What if each of us took it upon ourselves to honor and care for places luminous in our childhood or teenage memories much the way some of us have attempted to honor and care for revered elders?” For some of us, stewardship is the practice of honor and care for the places that made us. It feels like walking many miles on a November afternoon, arms full of native seeds.

Ready to get your hands dirty? Volunteer with Grand Canyon Trust.

Posted in Arizona Issues, Land Conservation, Plateau-wide Issues, Volunteers | Comments Off

Pack your bag and lace your boots!

Colorado Plateau Explorer online trip-planning toolThe Grand Canyon Trust is excited to announce our new online trip planning tool: the Colorado Plateau Explorer.

Over the past year and a half, we have been gathering information about hiking trails, campgrounds, museums, and visitor centers across the Colorado Plateau – and now we’re going live! From the bottom of the Grand Canyon to the obscure peaks of the Henry Mountains, the Colorado Plateau Explorer covers the ground you have yet to see.

The heart of the site is an interactive map, which you can customize by adding topographical layers, satellite imagery, land ownership, and more. From here, you can navigate to detailed descriptions of over 75 hikes and 50 campgrounds, along with tips, history, and other extras. The Colorado Plateau Explorer also features information on visiting national parks, monuments, and tribal lands.

You’ll find conservation news sprinkled throughout the site, and information about the Trust’s work tied to every hike. Our goal for the Colorado Plateau Explorer is to turn hikers into activists, inspiring them to join us in protecting and restoring the landscapes we all treasure.

The website and its resources are completely free. A quick registration will allow you to access all the planning tools. To register, click here. We’ll be adding new hikes to the site every month, so please check back often and happy trails!

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Threats to Grand Canyon on front page of New York Times

Where 2 Rivers Meet, Visions for Grand Canyon ClashThe New York Times just published a front-page story highlighting threats facing the Grand Canyon. Reporter Adam Nagourney managed to weave together three thorny issues (Escalade, Tusayan & the concession contract), while offering an overview of the chronic issue: people wanting to cash in on Grand Canyon’s popularity.

We are pleased that the story highlighted the most pressing threat: developers’ plans to build the “Escalade” mega-resort and tram to the bottom of the Canyon. The Trust is actively supporting Save the Confluence as their campaign intensifies to convince the Navajo Nation Council to stop Escalade. Both Save the Confluence and the Trust are among those quoted in the story.

For more information, please see:

New Save the Confluence Video Makes Case Against Escalade
Tribes Unite to Protect Grand Canyon from Escalade Development

You can read the full New York Times story here.

Where 2 Rivers Meet, Visions for Grand Canyon Clash

If you haven’t already, you might want to sign this petition to Keep the Canyon Grand.

Posted in Grand Canyon Issues, Native America Issues | Comments Off