The latest salvo in the increasingly-pointed debate about canyon area infrastructure projects was fired by former Colorado River boatman Kevin Fedarko. In his recent New York Times op-ed, Fedarko eloquently laid out the case against the huge buildup in Tusayan, Arizona, at the doorstep of the park’s South Rim entrance, and the so-called Escalade Project on the Navajo Reservation that would include a gondola designed to transport thousands of visitors to the ecologically and culturally sensitive Little Colorado River confluence in the heart of the canyon.
In both cases, Fedarko argues that a few individuals stand to reap a financial windfall at the expense of the visitor experience and the biological integrity of the canyon.
Passions are on the rise in all camps as demonstrated by a spike in media attention, peaceful activism, and the open talk of litigation. With so many stakeholders involved, these gestures have the tone and tenor of the high-pitched battles over the Marble Canyon and Bridge Canyon Dams within Grand Canyon in the 50s and 60s (both defeated after a fierce public debate spearheaded by Martin Litton, David Brower, and the Sierra Club).
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