New Brunswick—Just two days before National Public Lands Day, Rutgers students came together with local activists for an Hour of Action calling on President Obama to establish the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument. The event, which was sponsored by NJPIRG Student Chapters, Environment New Jersey, and the New Jersey Sierra Club, brought environmentalists from all across New Jersey together to sign petitions, take photo petitions, and make phone calls to key decision-makers in Washington, D.C.
“Of course, this is about protecting the Grand Canyon,” said Jake McNichol, a Campaign Organizer with Environment New Jersey. “But it’s also about more than that. It’s about standing up for our land, our water, and our kids’ futures.”
NJPIRG Student Chapters, Environment New Jersey, and the New Jersey Sierra Club organized the Hour of Action because mining companies are currently trying to open more than 8,000 uranium mines in the areas around the Grand Canyon. These mines threaten to kill endangered species, destroy more than 1,000 Native American heritage sites, and contaminate the drinking water supplies for more than 25 million people.
“The issue and tactics these mining companies use are similar to those used here in New Jersey,” said Greg Gorman, the State Conservation Chair for the New Jersey Sierra Club. “We hear the same arguments to justify encroachment into the Pinelands, Highlands, and other public lands for oil and gas pipelines.”
This event was part of a national effort to call on President Obama to permanently protect more than 1.7 million acres of land around the Grand Canyon from toxic mining by establishing the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument.
After hearing from McNichol, Gorman and Deb Young, the New Jersey Sierra Club’s Utah Wilderness Issues Coordinator, students and activists went to work calling on key decision-makers in Washington to protect the areas around the Grand Canyon from this dirty and dangerous mining.
In addition to signing Environment New Jersey and Sierra Club petitions, the students and other activists posed for photo petitions with a large poster declaring their love the Grand Canyon. They also phoned Senators Cory Booker and Robert Menendez to urge their U.S. Senators to support creating this new monument.
When this flurry of activism came to an end, the group reconvened to watch Monumental: David Brower’s Fight for Wild America, a film about the Sierra Club’s efforts to protect the Grand Canyon from damming during the 1960s.
“It’s really crazy,” said Jason Cincotta, a third-year Rutgers student studying landscape architecture. “Before tonight I had no idea anyone could threaten the Grand Canyon. But now I know, and I’m going to work hard to make sure President Obama does the right thing to protect our open spaces, keep our water clean, and preserve America’s beauty for generations to come.”
Environment New Jersey is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization working for clean air, clean water, and open space, and represents more than 20,000 dues-paying members.
For more information: www.environmentnewjersey.org