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Last week, the Grand Canyon Protection Act was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Arizona Congressman Raúl Grijlava to permanently protect the Grand Canyon region from new mining claims and the pollution they would produce. The bill permanently withdraws slightly more than 1 million acres of public land north and south of Grand Canyon National Park from eligibility for any future mining claims. The primary mineral of interest in this region is uranium, which has a toxic legacy throughout the Four Corners. “On behalf of the Havasupai Tribe, I am writing to express our full support for the Grand Canyon Protection Act,” said Evangeline Kissoon, Havasupai Tribal Chairwoman. “The Havasupai Tribe has opposed a nearby uranium mine, the Pinyon Plain Mine (formerly Canyon Mine), for years. The mine is located in the Red Butte area, which is our traditional cultural property. The contamination from the mine has caused millions of gallons of precious water to be rendered unusable and wasted, and the mine has potential to contaminate the aquifer. The Grand Canyon Protection Act will help protect our sacred lands and waters from the harmful and often irreversible effects of uranium mining.” Representative Greg Stanton said, “As threats against the Grand Canyon mount, we must take action to protect and preserve the precious public lands in and around the National Park. The Grand Canyon is home to sensitive wildlife habitats, critical groundwater resources, and Tribal communities that trace their origins to the region. The Canyon is also the heart of our state's tourism industry. Protecting these lands for generations to come is tied to the future of Arizona’s economy, environment and cultural traditions.” Please join the Arizona Trail Association in telling your representatives in Congress to support the Grand Canyon Protection Act! Use this online resource to learn how to contact your Congressional representatives, and then call, email and write to them soon. It only takes a few minutes and could have a significant impact in protecting public lands for future generations.

After School on the AZT Embraces Winter

When 30 inches of snow landed on northern Arizona recently, the Arizona Trail Association’s After School on the AZT program embraced the opportunity to help youth experience a new way to explore the great outdoors. For many, it was their first time cross country skiing. With guidance from the ATA’s Youth Outreach & Education Coordinator Julie Polovitch, youth learned how to properly put on skis and use poles along the groomed trails of Arizona Nordic Village. Then, they immediately practiced how to get up safely from a fall. Equipped to gracefully brush off falls, they learned how to position themselves, step-glide, stop, and exercise respectful trail etiquette. After several practice laps in the meadow and a game of Red Light, Green Light, they set out on the trails. The dense forest of ponderosa pines and aspens was an ideal nature setting for skiing. Those who had downhill skied before were surprised at how hard cross country skiing was. Since the terrain was relatively flat they assumed it would be like walking, but classic skis are narrow and don’t have metal edges on them, making balance and control extra challenging. The small group enjoyed their time skiing together, learned some great skills, and embraced winter before the snow quickly melted. The ATA extends a huge thank you to Arizona Nordic Village for being so welcoming and accommodating our group. Rental gear was well-organized, and we were welcomed to visit on a day when they’re normally closed. After School on the AZT is an initiative of the ATA’s Seeds of Stewardship program. To read outing reports and learn more about how we are inspiring the next generation of stewards through experience, education and stewardship, please visit this webpage, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram. The program is provided at no cost in an effort to eliminate all barriers to participation, and is supported by the generosity of ATA members, donors, business partners, and grants from Tucson Electric Power/UniSource Energy Services and the US Forest Service. If you’d like to help, please donate today. DONATE TO SUPPORT YOUTH PROGRAMS Annual Meeting Now Online

If you missed our 27th Annual Members Meeting on February 6, it’s now online through Facebook and also on our YouTube channel. In this 90-minute presentation, you’ll learn about organizational successes and challenges throughout 2020, priorities for 2021, and hear from a variety of staff and friends about all things related to the Arizona Trail and the ATA. Members of the Arizona Trail Association are especially encouraged to watch, since none of these projects and initiatives would be possible without your support. Enjoy the Annual Meeting, and hopefully we will be able to gather together in person next year.

Section Hiking the Arizona Trail

While thru-hikers get all the glory, not everyone can take two months or longer to walk the length of the Arizona National Scenic Trail from Mexico to Utah. But many dedicate time for day trips, weekend outings, and an occasional longer adventure – making progress one segment or passage at a time. This is commonly known as “section hiking” and is how most people eventually finish the entire AZT. In December of 2020, local author Abigail Kessler started chronicling her section hiking adventures in an effort to inform and inspire others. Her informative posts are available through The Trek and include highlights, logistics, and a whole lot more. Check out her recent posts from northern Arizona, including: Section Hiking the Arizona Trail – A Few Introductory Questions A 19-Mile Sampler of the Kaibab National Forest The Long Way Around Flagstaff If you like what you read, subscribe to Abigail’s posts and you’ll get an email when new articles are published. Unfinished Border Wall Construction Keeps AZT Southern Terminus Closed

The southern mile of the Arizona Trail and the southern terminus remain closed to the public. The trail and terminus have been closed since border wall construction began in July of 2020. A total of 1,250 feet of cement-filled steel barriers have been installed near Border Monument #102. Although President Biden’s Proclamation on January 20, 2021 terminated the national emergency on the southern border and ordered a 60-day pause in border construction projects, Coronado National Memorial has determined the area remains unsafe to the general public. Open trenches, unstable soils from blasting, and abandoned construction activities present hazards not commonly found in the backcountry. In addition, barbed wire fences along the international border that were removed to make way for steel barriers have not been replaced. Information on this closure is posted at Montezuma Pass, and on the Coronado National Memorial website, and on the Arizona Trail where Yaqui Ridge Trail intersects Joe’s Canyon Trail. Please obey the closure order until the area can be stabilized and safely reopened. Thru-hikers are encouraged to either start at the Coronado National Memorial Visitor Center and hike up Joe’s Canyon Trail to the AZT, then head north. Another option is to start at Montezuma Pass, walk 0.7-mile south on the AZT to the closure area, then turn around and head north. Thru-hikers wanting to start their 800-mile journey at the international border are encouraged to explore options along Forest Roads to the west of Montezuma Pass that lead to Border Monument #103. The Arizona Trail Association is advocating for reopening and rehabilitating the southern terminus as soon as possible. After all, this is one of the most important locations along the entire AZT. We kindly ask you respect the National Park Service’s closure order until it’s rescinded.

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