Sierra Club Grand Canyon

Sierra Club members and dedicated staff uphold environmental values in highest regard. I have always associated my values with those of the Sierra Club, especially those of the Grand Canyon Chapter which focus on the protection of the Colorado River Watershed. In May of 2013 I began work as a summer Intern for the Sierra Club Foundation in Flagstaff, Arizona.

The surrounding National Forest is a part of the world’s largest Ponderosa Pine Forest. The San Francisco Peaks, located north of the City of Flagstaff offers four life zones from conifer forests to tundras. The Grand Canyon lies further north of the city and in all its vast wonder, provides a sea of tranquility. My summer internship had a priority focus on Potential Wilderness Areas near Flagstaff in addition to other event coordination and town hall speaking related to the Grand Canyon and Uranium Mining along the Colorado River.

Regional Uranium Mining and Transportation

The geological formation of the Grand Canyon allowed for a feature to be produced called a Breccia Uranium Deposit Type. Therefore, Uranium is available to mine in the region. The mining of this resource produces negative impacts on local watershed ecology in addition to wildlife and habitat health. There is currently a moratorium banning uranium mining in the Grand Canyon region by the U.S. Dept. of Interior.

However, private companies wish to exploit these resources despite environmental implications. A mine opening near the Colorado River in Arizona would require transportation of this substance through the City of Flagstaff and then north to Utah for processing. If all mines were active, a total of 34 trucks containing Uranium will drive Interstate – 40 through Flagstaff, Arizona everyday.

On June 18th, 2013, a group of my peers and I spoke out against this activity and asked Flagstaff City Council to ban this practice in our city, the council agreed to further discussions later in the year:

Sierra Club’s Colorado River Days Event, 2013 – Flagstaff, AZ

The Colorado River is the lifeblood of the American Southwest. It provides clean water, food, energy, and economic security to millions of local citizens and travelers alike. In order to celebrate this valuable resource, the Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter organizes a yearly festival called the Colorado River Days in Flagstaff, AZ. This event celebrates the resource, culture, recreation and education of the river and the Southwest region. My summer internship gave me the opportunity to assist the Sierra Club organize the 2013 event through stakeholder correspondence, meeting attendance and organization as well as calendar scheduling and public marketing.

Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013. 6:00 p.m. Film at the Museum of Northern Arizona (MNA), 3101 N Fort Valley Rd. My Canyonlands: The Adventurous Life of Kent Frost. MNA is pleased to host this event for Colorado River Days. Free admission.

Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013. 7:00 p.m. Colorado River Songwriting Contest at Uptown Pubhouse, 114 N. Leroux St. Come cheer on your favorite performers. Song submissions due Thursday, Sept. 26.

Friday, Oct. 4, 2013. 6 – 8:30 p.m. at Heritage Square. Colorado River Celebration. Organizations connected to the River will host tables in the Square during October’s First Friday Art Walk. Get involved with a new cause, meet new friends, and learn something new. Musical performance by Ed Kabotie.

Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013. 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Museum of Northern Arizona, 3101 N. Ft. Valley Rd.  3rd Annual Grand Canyon Authors Symposium: Of Lines and Layers  Authors explore the Grand Canyon through words and images. Authors include Lori Rome, Midji Stevenson, Bronze Black, Rick Kempa, Naseem Rakha, Christa Sadler, Tom Martin, Seth Muller, Stephen Hirst, Heidi Blankenship, Danny Rosen, Jean Rukkila, Ann Weiler Walka, and Margaret Erhart. Included with admission to the Museum of Northern Arizona.

Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013. 5:30 p.m. at the Grand Canyon Trust, 2601 N. Fort Valley Rd. Stories from the Confluence. A very special night featuring storytellers who hold a special place in their heart for the Confluence of the Little Colorado and Colorado Rivers, including families who live there and local yarn spinners. BBQ potluck starting at 5:30 p.m., with campfire stories 6:30-8:30 p.m. Burgers, brats and campfire provided. Please bring a story and a side dish to share. BYOB.

Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013. 11:00 a.m. Morning talk at the Zane Grey Ballroom (upstairs) at the Weatherford Hotel, 23 N. Leroux St. Eric Balken of Glen Canyon Institute will focus on Glen Canyon and the Grand Canyon, exploring the ecological, economic, and social importance of the Colorado River as its existence is reshaped by demand, drought and climate change. With an ever-growing population and projected reduction in future flows, Colorado River water is evolving from an abundant resource to one of great scarcity and value. The discussion is followed by a Glen Canyon Institute social gathering. Meet GCI members and learn about the organization.

Monday, Oct. 7, 2013. 6:00 p.m. at the Coconino Center for the Arts, 2300 N. Fort Valley Rd. The Future of the Colorado River: Presentations and panel discussion by those trying to plan for future conservation and use of the river. Ask questions and offer your thoughts.

Tuesday, Oct. 8th, 2013. 6:00 p.m. at Museum of Northern Arizona, 3101 N. Ft. Valley Rd. A community discussion about the proposed development at the confluence of the Little Colorado River and Colorado River.

Hunter Access to Aspen Depredation Areas on the San Francisco Peaks, Coconino National Forest

The goal of this project, administered by the U.S. Fish and Game and the U.S. Forest Service, is to provide hunters with improved access to reduce elk numbers and promote successful aspen regeneration on the San Francisco Peaks. This plan would re-open road beds in the forest that are typically closed year round for environmental quality control.

Opening these areas to OHV travel will degredate the local environment. Hunters will have higher success rates if OHV travel is limited on the mountain, not expanded. The program was administered in Fall, 2013.

Road 9121G - Technically closed year round (would be open for hunter access)
Road 9121G – Technically closed year round (would be open for hunter access)

This road is not listed on the Forest Service map, meaning that it is closed, and violators caught using OHV on this trail are subject to fine or punishment. This road, and bed of roads that it leads to, are open during hunter access season.

Location of FR 9121G
Location of FR 9121G, coordinates refer to OHV damage location (pictured below)
100 yards down FR9121G, canyon, water drainage
100 yards down FR9121G, canyon, water drainage

This is a conifer/ponderosa pine forest lifezone. The terrain features volcanic rock along a mountain and canyonside. Watershed drains east/southeast.

Evidence of road use and ecological damage.
Evidence of OHV use and ecological damage
SF peaks view from road
SF peaks view from road
Evidence of road use.
Evidence of OHV use

Human impact is prevalent. Tire treads about 1000 yards from the beginning of FR9121G from a standard size vehicle.

Evidence of road use (close up)
Evidence of OHV use (close up)

Other human impacts includes hiking and mountain biking. Evidence of isolated camping and burn locations.

Potential Wilderness Areas on the Coconino National Forest

One of the most fun job duties of a Sierra Club Internship is advocating for Wilderness. The Wilderness Act of 1964 keeps natural, pristine and untrammeled landscapes across the United States in that beautiful condition. The Coconino National Forest is home to some of the most untrammeled natural areas in the Southwestern U.S., but it needs stronger protection under Federal Law. I documented three areas located near the San Francisco Peaks and existing Kachina Peaks Wilderness, north of Flagstaff, Arizona. My data and photography of the areas helps to document the boundaries, assets, and popular use types for the Sierra Club.

Abineau Potential Wilderness Area (PWA)

North of Abineau PWA
North of Abineau PWA
Wildflower in Abineau PWA
Wildflower in Abineau PWA
Abineau is the area betwwen the blue dot and the roads/Wilderness border
Abineau is the area between the blue dot and the roads/Wilderness border; the red dot indicates the location of OHV damage
View within Abineau PWA
View within Abineau PWA
OHV Damage in Abineau PWA
OHV Damage in Abineau PWA
View from Southern Border of Abineau PWA
View from Southern Border of Abineau PWA

White Horse Potential Wilderness Area (PWA)

Mtn. Bike Trail in White Horse PWA
Mtn. Bike Trail in White Horse PWA
Blue location is southwest of White Horse PWA
Blue location is southwest of White Horse PWA
Apean and Fern in White Horse PWA
Aspen and Fern in White Horse PWA
Panoramic White Horse PWA
Panoramic White Horse PWA

Bismarck Potential Wilderness Area (PWA)

Wildflowers in Bismark PWA
Wildflowers in Bismarck PWA
Blue location is within Biskmark PWA
Blue location is within Bismarck PWA
Mtn. Bike Evidence in Bismark PWA
Mtn. Bike Evidence in Bismarck PWA
View of SF Mountains from Western Border of Bismark PWA
View of SF Mountains from Western Border of Bismarck PWA
Trailhead in Bismark PWA
Trailhead in Bismarck PWA