My Turn: New Grand Canyon monument is a bad idea
  by: Kurt Davis, AZ I See It 7:30 a.m. MST September 28, 2015

Game and Fish chairman: The Grand Canyon is crumbling. Why add more land to the National
Parks system?

Story Highlights

•        One of the world’s natural wonders is falling apart under the weight of a tremendous financial burden
•        Groups like the Sierra Club would have you believe that better “conservation” is right around the         
       corner with the creation of a national monument. It's not
•        Why would we expect these groups to be transparent about their intentions for wanting to roll another
       1.7 million acres into a national monument


The Grand Canyon is crumbling.

One of the world’s natural wonders is falling apart under the weight of a tremendous financial burden. The
National Park Service has a maintenance backlog of $11.5 billion, of which Grand Canyon National Park
accounts for a whopping $329 million.

How bad are things? Park officials say several areas below the North Rim were without drinking water over
the Labor Day weekend because of a broken water pipeline, the latest example of an aging pipeline system
that a park service spokesman said "wasn’t designed to last this long.” Hikers, trying to take advantage of
the last “getaway” holiday of the summer, were told to be prepared to carry or treat all drinking water.

“Failing to provide for the (park) system’s basic maintenance needs has eroded our most treasured
landscapes and historical sites,” said Craig Obey, senior vice president of the National Parks Conservation
Association.

For whatever reasons, $329 million must seem like a drop in the bucket – provided there aren’t any broken
pipelines -- to the special-interest groups that publicly proclaim their love for the Grand Canyon and profess
to have its best interests at heart.

While the infrastructure, facilities and visitor experience at our national parks continue to deteriorate, groups
like the Sierra Club should bear responsibility for adding to this bloated backlog if their proposal to create
the 1.7-million-acre Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument becomes reality.

Those same groups that don’t seem to care about fiscal responsibility also would have you believe that
better “conservation” is right around the corner with the creation of a national monument. That’s flat-out
wrong.

Conservation is difficult work. Unfortunately, groups like the Center for Biological Diversity would rather
pursue their idea of conservation in courtrooms through their filing of endless lawsuits – and have no
problem spending your tax dollars to do it – while the Arizona Game and Fish Department puts sound,
science-based management and conservation practices to work every day for more than 800 species.

The true core of conservation has been, and will continue to be, the sportsmen and sportswomen who fund
the majority of conservation efforts; the ranching families who have pioneered and maintained an important
presence in the heart of our state’s treasured landscapes; the rural community members who have
historically safeguarded Arizona’s unique places; and Game and Fish, which has diligently managed our
wildlife in a balanced fashion.

These devoted individuals do the tough work through active management, while litigation factories, masked
as pseudo-conservationist groups, fill their pockets with taxpayer funds collected from frivolous lawsuits and
perpetuate efforts to stymie access and uses on our state’s federal lands.

These groups are not transparent about how they are funded, so why would we expect them to be
transparent about their intentions for wanting to roll another 1.7 million acres into a national monument in a
state that already has more than any other?

A well-built home starts with a solid foundation. Let our state and national leaders know we don’t want
special-interest groups causing further damage to the foundation of our National Park Service system. Say
no to the proposed Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument.

Kurt R. Davis of Phoenix is chairman of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission.
Game and Fish chairman:
The Grand Canyon is crumbling. Why add more land to the
National Parks system?
Click to vote
(Photo: Rob Schumacher/The Republic)