Letter to the Editor: Sierra Club Concerns on Stilo Land Plan

October 29, 2011


To the Editor:
I am writing to urge the Town of Tusayan to engage in meaningful dialogue with Grand Canyon National Park, the Havasupai Tribe, and others, prior to moving ahead with their proposal to build thousands of new resort and timeshare units. Yes, there is a need to construct housing for Tusayan citizens, but the Town should plan development in a manner that is sensitive to the surrounding landscape and the needs of its neighbors. 
As a recent United States Geological Survey study revealed, groundwater supplies statewide are disappearing – with approximately three times the maximum storage capacity of Lake Powell already gone – and we must begin to work together across jurisdictional boundaries to preserve what’s left. We also must work together to protect our wildlife. Arizona State is recognizing the need to preserve wildlife connectivity, and major investments are being made upgrading roads to allow safe wildlife passage without harming people. Tusayan is centered within deer, elk, and mountain lion movement corridors. The Tusayan Growth Environmental Impact Statement shows maps of deer fawning and elk calving within the Ten-X parcel. 
The Arizona State Game and Fish Department and Kaibab National Forest can make suggestions to improve urban planning to protect wildlife. Grand Canyon National Park can make suggestions to improve transportation planning and decrease stress on park infrastructure. The Havasupai Tribe can share data on water resources. The Town should take the time to collaborate with regional stakeholders.
The Town of Tusayan is considering annexation concurrent with rezoning to allow construction of thousands of new residences, far beyond the needs of the current community. Careful planning can create a beautiful, comfortable, safe, and environmentally sensitive place to live. Poor planning can lead to empty buildings, water supply problems, and, even worse, negative impacts on some very important neighbors.  Please work together and plan carefully.
Alicyn Gitlin
Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter