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Grand Canyon Watershed

Distant shot of canyon country, with lush riparian corridor in foreground
Photo: William C. Gladish

The Grand Canyon is one of the most stunning natural wonders in the world and a crown jewel in America’s National Park System. The Grand Canyon’s watershed includes nearly 2 million acres of unprotected land surrounding the canyon itself, and is a critical link in the vast, Blue Range-Grand Canyon-Yellowstone Wildway. The imperiled public lands adjacent to and draining into the Grand Canyon comprise dramatic escarpments, plateaus, and canyons that support a unique diversity of native species—including California condors, mountain lions, pronghorns, and mule deer.

While parts of the area are protected within the boundaries of Grand Canyon National Park, several ecologically critical lands still remain without protections. For example, most of the forested Kaibab Plateau, one of the last remote old-growth forests in the Southwest, has since been exploited for its natural resources through mining, logging, and grazing.

In 2016, Wildlands Network helped initiate a growing movement to protect the Grand Canyon’s watershed in perpetuity with the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument Act, which would have:

  • made permanent the existing 20-year moratorium on new uranium mining claims within Grand Canyon’s watershed;
  • protected the old-growth ponderosa pine and mixed conifer forest of the Kaibab Plateau and the forest south of the park (South Rim Headwaters);
  • provided local Tribal communities with greater oversight of and participation in public land management.

Fact Sheet about the Proposed National Monument

While Former President Barack Obama did not designate the area a national monument, Wildlands Network and our partners were successful in mobilizing more than half a million voices in support of protecting this important place. These voices joined more than 20 area Tribal Nations, nearly 100 businesses, outdoor recreation and conservation groups, and local and national elected leaders.


Wildlands Network collaborated with the following organizations in our work to protect Grand Canyon:

I am bound to the earth by a web of stories. Scott Russell Sanders, Staying Put