GRAND CANYON — Overlooking the Grand Canyon on Wednesday, multiple sportsmen’s groups met with Sen. John McCain to discuss their opposition to designating the Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument, which would greatly impact access to hunting and fishing, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s ability to properly manage wildlife.
The Arizona Game and Fish Commission is opposed to a proposal that would needlessly create a national monument north of the Grand Canyon. Such a designation would limit the public’s access to more than 1.7 million acres of the Kaibab Plateau and will greatly impact local residents, sportsmen and sportswomen, and AZGFD’s mission to properly manage the state’s wildlife.
“The land is here for the people,” Mule Deer Foundation Regional Director Terry Herndon told McCain during a meeting at Grand Canyon National Park with sportsmen’s groups, community leaders and business owners. “It is absolutely critical to maintain our access for hunting and fishing, and for the Arizona Game and Fish Department to be able to continue to do their job to manage our wildlife.”
Those gathered also expressed concern the designation could impact access to water resources and could block further access to public lands, which will lead to degradation of wildlife populations and habitat on one of the most important hunting areas in the U.S.
Sen. McCain pledged to fight any designation of a Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument and vowed to ask Congress to overturn any such action, if created by President Barack Obama.
“If the president issues this executive order, I promise to make it my highest priority to have it overturned in January,” McCain said. “We must weigh the full impact and what we’re losing with this designation. This will eliminate a way of life and that isn’t fair to our residents or visitors. This will also greatly affect the heritage of our state and those who depend on multi-use areas such as this.”
Creation of the Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument could well transfer jurisdiction of the area watershed to the National Park Service, which already has an $11.6 billion maintenance backlog, and will hamper forest thinning projects designed to prevent catastrophic wildfires.