The practice of conservation must spring from a conviction of what is ethically and aesthetically right, as well as what is economically expedient. A thing is right only when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the community, and the community includes the soil, waters, fauna, and flora, as well as people. —Aldo Leopold

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Grand Canyon and Colorado Plateau conservation advocates : Grand Canyon Trust

Home » Accomplishments (Current Year)

Grand Canyon Trust accomplishments in 2013

To see a list of our accomplishments from 1984–2012, click here.


  • In the face of five industry lawsuits, the Trust and partners defended the Obama administration's 1,000,000-acre ban of new uranium mines around Grand Canyon.
  • Alongside the Havasupai Tribe, the Trust and partners negotiated a stipulated agreement shuttering the controversial "Canyon" uranium mine threatening Grand Canyon's aquifers and springs.
  • Led a challenge to a Bureau of Land Management decision allocating 800,000 acres of public land in the Colorado River basin to carbon intensive oil shale and tar sands development.
  • A Trust legal victory caused proponents of a proposed oil shale and tar sands refinery in Green River, Utah, to forestall construction, redesign the facility and undertake new environmental reviews.
  • Alongside the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and other partners, the Trust, through an administrative challenge, prompted the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to withdraw 100,000 acres of Utah's San Rafael Swell from an oil and gas auction in November, sparing Wilderness-quality lands, sensitive species habitat and cultural resources.
  • Secured written commitment by the Departments of Interior, Energy and the EPA to help develop "community-based and large scale renewable energy projects" that will benefit Hopi and Navajo people.
  • Using funds derived from coal pollution litigation, the Trust directed more than $2 million to solar, wind and energy efficiency projects in schools and homes on Native American reservations on the Colorado Plateau—a program that's directed about $5 million to such projects in recent years.

Land Conservation

  • Led a coalition of conservation interests to advance well-reasoned proposals and stand together against foolish schemes in what may be the best opportunity in a generation to protect wildlands in Utah as a part of the Bishop Initiative for Eastern Utah Public Lands. We are advocating for new forest wilderness, supporting our partners efforts on new BLM wilderness, backing sensible state land trades and working to ensure that climate disaster fuels like oil shale and tar sands remain in the ground for the sake of future generations.
  • Officially began on-the-ground restoration work within the 2.5 million acre Four Forest Restoration Initiative – the largest forest restoration initiative in the country - after several years of hard work by the Trust and many other partners launching the initiative.
  • After more than a year of hard work by many partners including the Trust, adopted a first-of-its-kind landscape-scale monitoring and adaptive management plan for the Four Forest Restoration Initiative.  This plan is designed to keep the 4FRI effort on track in meeting ambitious ecological goals over the coming decade and beyond.
  • Designed ranching operations on Kane and Two Mile Ranches to reduce the impact of livestock on sensitive ecosystems, to protect functional water sources, and to improve wildlife habitat.
  • Established the Kane and Two Mile Research and Stewardship Partnership, an effort to bring researchers and land and wildlife managers together. The partnership presents a natural conduit to ensure that science actually informs land management on this iconic landscape.
  • Finalized the collaboratively developed Kane Ranch Allotment Management Plan to reduce livestock impacts and support new approaches for integrating science in land management on the Kane Ranch.
  • Initiated a program to monitor wildlife movement and connectivity across the ranches.
  • Launched new citizen-led efforts to monitor change in songbirds, bats, and forest conditions across the ranches.
  • Protected through acquisition fifteen private parcels of land within the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument that were otherwise slated for retail and residential development. All parcels, which are located near the Calf Creek trailhead, were subsequently conveyed to the Bureau of Land Management for inclusion in the national monument.
  • Launched the Colorado Plateau Conservancy - a new program that will use conservation real estate transactions to protect strategic and otherwise vulnerable private and state land within and adjoining national parks and monuments, and wilderness character lands.
  • Won a major legal victory with our partners at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance that overturned large parts of the flawed Bush-era Richfield BLM Resource Management Plan (RMP).  The landmark ruling found that BLM failed to adequately consider environmental protections, failed to minimize the impacts of designated off road vehicle routes on resources and violated the National Historic Preservation Act by failing to conduct on-the-ground surveys of cultural resources prior to designating off road vehicle routes.  Five other RMPs in Utah are similarly flawed, and must be similarly rectified in the coming years.
  • Established the 28,000 acre White Mesa Cultural and Conservation Area on Elk Ridge in southeastern Utah via a Ute Mountain Ute Tribe/Grand Canyon Trust/Manti-La Sal National Forest agreement. The WMCCA will remain free of livestock grazing through 2022.
  • Initiated the "What Our Forests Could Be" photography project. The Trust commissioned four photographers to photograph areas within the Dixie, Fishlake, and Manti-La Sal NFs that are not grazed by livestock. Over 96% of these three forests are in annually-grazed allotments, and the project highlights the ecological, aesthetic, and social values of increasing the proportion of livestock-free areas within the three forests.
  • With a contract from the Trust, Utah State University Watershed Sciences hydrology and GIS experts developed the Beaver Restoration Assessment Tool (BRAT) and used it to estimate beaver dam capacity within the Escalante River Watershed of southern Utah. The state of Utah was duly impressed and in late 2013 contracted with the Watershed Sciences Department to map the entire state of Utah with the BRAT.
  • Crafted a first-of-its-kind compromise proposal for non-motorized trails in the La Sal Mountains near Moab, working with watershed activists, environmentalists and mountain bikers, building mutual support for future wilderness designation in the popular and heavily-recreated mountain range.
  • Built a new network of conservationists in rural Utah working on issues around three major topic areas: dirty energy development, wilderness and wildlands and water.
  • Continued our work to unify Utah's two Forest Wilderness proposals into a single proposal with our conservation partners. 2014 will see the completion of unification and the development of new statewide federal wilderness legislation for Utah's national forests.
  • Sustained opposition to Grand Canyon gateway developer to drill new water wells in Tusayan that would further threaten springs in the Grand Canyon.

Native America

  • Facilitated two Intertribal Gatherings to develop collaborative strategy and initiate projects to mitigate climate change impacts on traditional farming- food systems and precious water resources.
  • Shared our unique intertribally guided conservation work with global audiences at the North American Cultural Leadership Exchange, National Bioneers Conference, and other venues.
  • Successfully organized the Painted Desert farmers market in the communities of Moencopi and Tuba City to create partnerships between diverse community groups that are supporting traditional organic farming, creating access to healthy locally grown produce, sharing healthy cooking methods, and increasing traditional knowledge of farming and food systems. 
  • Organized the Navajo Green Business Incubator with experienced Native American business counselors, partnering with an established incubator (Northern Arizona Center for Emerging Technologies), and mentored a class of eight businesses ranging from a community farming cooperative, to a youth-led film company, and a remote bed and breakfast. 
  • Co-hosted the inaugural Navajo-Hopi Unity Through Sustainability Pavilion, which brought together exhibitors, farming groups, and conservationists to celebrate tribal farming / gardening and renewable energy technologies.
  • Supported coalition of Navajo groups to stop plans by a Scottsdale developer to build a luxury rim resort and tramway into the Grand Canyon at the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers.
  • Organized a team of business planning experts to support Grand Canyon region Navajo chapter officials and council delegate Walter Phelps to develop a comprehensive economic plan that will ensure long term protection of world class cultural and natural resources while at the same time developing needed sustainable economic projects through a new social entrepreneurship venture.

Stewardship and Engagement

  • 255 volunteers collectively contributed 14,500 hours of their time on 30 conservation projects that supported habitat restoration, public lands stewardship, citizen science, and clean energy and green economies on public lands and with Native American communities across the Plateau.
  • Recruited 145 youth volunteers age 13-25 from high schools, colleges and youth groups from around the country. Young people contributed nearly 10,000 volunteer hours to the Trust.
  • Received the Arizona Forward Association's President's Award for Environmental Excellence in the field of Environmental Stewardship for Northern Arizona.
  • Installed 50 motion-sensing cameras and documented wildlife sign to validate Puma activity on Kane Ranch.
  • Field-tested a Rapid Forest Assessment protocol developed by GCT staff and partners.
  • Closed nearly six miles of illegal roads and travel routes, documented threatened fish, and defended the integrity of an important roadless area in southern Utah forests.
  • Improved pronghorn habitat in the House Rock Valley by modifying 2 miles of barbed wire fence; removed 45 invasive trees at Kane Ranch springs.
  • Monitored vegetation, soil and bird communities to understand the effects of exotic plant removal in Paria Canyon.
  • Collected over 400 botanical specimens to better understand the plant communities of Vermilion Cliffs National Monument.
  • Constructed aspen log and barbed wire fencing on private lands in Utah to keep cattle from trampling beaver habitat and passive restoration areas.
  • Inventoried previously undocumented streams in southern Utah for boreal toad presence.
  • Collected data on beaver habitat on southern Utah streams.
  • Collected data to improve grazing practices in Southern Utah forests.
  • Assisted Native American communities with traditional farming practices.
  • Assisted with an annual running event honoring the sacredness of water in Hopi culture.
  • Installed four solar electricity systems for local Navajo residents.
  • Completed the new volunteer barn and moved in. The new barn provides a safer, more efficient place to pack volunteer trips, and features an outdoor gathering space where we hold many inspiring community events. The barn was made possible through generous community support, and features passive solar, rainwater harvesting and native landscaping done by volunteers through a community educational workshop. 

Geographic Information Systems

  • Provided mapping and data analysis support for the Trust's oil shale and tar sands litigation and public campaign, analysis for Grand Staircase National Monument grazing EIS, and completion and conversion of a GIS integrated Broads for Healthy Lands RS2477 database.
  • Provided GIS baseline analysis for the conservation collaborations involved in land exchange proposals in southern Utah.
  • Implemented a web mapping strategy for the entire organization that will display Grand Canyon Trust program work and Colorado Plateau conservation issues in interactive web maps. The first will be launched in January 2014.
  • Equipped field crews with mobile technology for enhanced landscape visualization with customized mapping and offline data collection.
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