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Media Advisory, October 14, 2009

Contact:  Taylor McKinnon, (928) 310-6713 or

Press Conference and Public Meeting to Focus on Proposed Uranium Mining Ban Around Grand Canyon

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.― On Thursday, October 15, a press conference hosted by the Havasupai Tribe and conservation groups and a public meeting hosted by the Bureau of Land Management will focus on the Interior Department’s proposed “mineral withdrawal” that would protect 1 million acres of watersheds surrounding Grand Canyon National Park from new uranium mining claims and development.

The public meeting, hosted by the Department of the Interior, will give the public an opportunity to learn more about and comment on Interior's proposed mineral withdrawal. The Department is analyzing the proposal in an environmental impact statement. Thursday's meeting will help satisfy the first phase of public comment required in that analysis.

What: Public Meeting

When: Thursday, October 15, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Where: High Country Conference Center, 201 W. Butler Ave., Flagstaff, AZ 86001

A delegation of Havasupai leaders and elders will travel to Flagstaff on Thursday to participate in the public hearing. Havasupai elders will be available for questions and offer their statements regarding the Interior Department’s proposal prior to the public meeting. Representatives of the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, and Grand Canyon Trust, who have been working with Havasupai leaders to secure uranium protections for Grand Canyon's watersheds, will also be available to answer questions.

What: News conference with Havasupai Elders and Tribal leaders regarding uranium mining near the Grand Canyon

When: Thursday, October 15 from 1:30 p.m. PST till 2:15 p.m. PST

Where: The Sierra Club field office located at 408 East Route 66. (The office is next to   Simply Delicious Catering in the beige building with turquoise trim above Babbitt Ford, just north of downtown Flagstaff off Route 66 and Elden. You can exit Rt. 66 off the alley way between Payday Loans and Babbitt Ford.)

A toll-free number conference-call line will be open for representatives of the media who can’t make it to Flagstaff at 1 (866) 501-6174; dial in the code 321-0798-1892#.

Spikes in uranium prices have caused thousands of new uranium claims, dozens of proposed exploration drilling projects, and proposals to reopen old uranium mines adjacent to Grand Canyon. Renewed uranium development threatens to degrade wildlife habitat and industrialize now-wild and iconic landscapes bordering the park; it also threatens to harm wildlife and habitat and contaminate aquifers that discharge into Grand Canyon National Park and the Colorado River.

Proposed uranium development has provoked litigation, public protests, and statements of concern and opposition from scientists, city officials, county officials, former Governor Janet Napolitano, the Navajo, Kaibab Paiute, Hopi, Hualapai, and Havasupai tribes, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and the Southern Nevada Water Authority, among others. Statewide polling conducted by Public Opinion Strategies shows overwhelming public support for withdrawing from mineral entry the lands near Grand Canyon; Arizonans support protecting the Grand Canyon area from uranium mining by a two-to-one margin.

In response to these threats, the Department of the Interior is preparing an environmental impact statement to evaluate a proposed 20-year “mineral withdrawal” that would prohibit new mining claims and the exploration or mining of existing claims without valid existing rights across nearly 1 million acres surrounding Grand Canyon National Park. The purpose of the mineral withdrawal would be to protect Grand Canyon’s watersheds from the adverse effects of new uranium exploration and mining. If approved, the withdrawal would extend and strengthen protections set forth in the two-year land segregation announced by the Interior Department on July 20, 2009.

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