Readers React

More people, more development: What the Grand Canyon doesn't need

To the editor: I am not an elitist hiker, but all the hours planning and completing a Grand Canyon hike earned me the right to enjoy the spectacular sights when I got to Phantom Ranch at the bottom. ("National Park Service calls development plans a threat to Grand Canyon," July 6)

I have concerns about opening the bottom to hordes of gondola-cruising tourists. On the Grand Canyon floor, animals exist that cannot get out. Being used to hikers, they know people have food. But the animals cannot digest the wrappers and bags containing our food, and the more they gobble, the more their digestive systems get clogged with undigestible plastic.

Among the memories of my trip: Condors landing 15 feet from us, 1.8-billion-year-old rocks — and an emaciated deer with a belly swollen tight with plastic, unable to eat the grass and starving slowly. We hikers are for the most part sensitive to the thoughtless harm humans can do. I fear the devastation a pack of tourists riding a gondola on a lark would have on wildlife.

Maybe I am an elitist hiker, insofar as I feel those who work hard to get to the unique treasures surrounding Phantom Ranch are far less likely to toss plastic wrappers away than those who let something else do the work for them. Should the development go ahead, the kindest thing would be to evacuate or cull the deer. And the ringtail cats. And the condors.

Toni Owen, Culver City


To the editor: Perhaps I'm naive, but I thought many Native American cultures held Earth as sacred. Now we learn certain tribes are planning commercial developments in and around the Grand Canyon.

This is anathema to everything Teddy Roosevelt intended when he initiated what would become the National Park Service. Said Roosevelt about the Grand Canyon: "I hope you will not have a building of any kind.... Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it."

Seems like the Grand Canyon's Native American tribes have now fully mastered the overriding principles of their original European overlords (absent Roosevelt): The culture of capitalism and the almighty dollar ultimately compromises all, even those beliefs one allegedly holds most dear.

Cy Bolton, Rancho Cucamonga


To the editor: National Park Service officials are complaining about a housing development outside Grand Canyon National Park's boundary. The developer has even proposed to help fix the park's water-supply problem.

Officials also complain that the gondola to the canyon floor would negatively alter views of the park. This area is about 20 miles northeast of the park headquarters, from where most people view the canyon.

Park officials at the Grand Canyon always complain about development that is usually outside the park boundaries. They should take care of what they already have.

Robert Gregg, Verdugo City


To the editor: It is important that the Grand Canyon's 5 million annual visitors have access to all reaches of the canyon. Gondolas, zip lines, accommodations, restaurants, towers for cellphones and TVs, tours, overhangs and bungee jumping should all be available.

All off this construction will create jobs to build roads and maintain infrastructure. There will be plenty of space for flat-panel TVs too.

I am an old guy, so I won't have to watch this stupidity unfold.

Eugene Paul, Irvine

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