Local News

The National Forest Service Tries to Distance Itself From Controversial Stilo Development Plan

December 7, 2014

The National Forest Service could face some angry backlash for failing to stand up to Italian developer Stilo, and it continues to deny any role in moving the plan forward.

Stilo’s destructive development plan for Tusayan, which would create three million square feet of commercial space and add thousands of new homes to the environmentally fragile area, can’t move forward if the National Forest Service denies Silo access to Forest Service lands to make the project accessible. Simply put, Stilo needs to build roads on Forest Service land or the development plan is doomed.

The Forest Service has already allowed the permit process to move ahead even though the Grand Canyon School District objected to a high traffic road being placed along the Town Park and future school site.

Despite the cooperation, the National Forest Service is instructing employees to say there is no formal support for the project. Here is a portion of a Forest Service email obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity.

"We’re submitting this to you because the interview request is from the local NPR affiliate and there is the chance the story could be picked up by the national outlet- the owner of the private holdings is planning on developing the parcels which are within the city limits. As the Forest Service begins the required environmental analysis related to the application, public and media interest could grow because of the development’s close proximity to the Grand Canyon NP. It is important to inform the folks and media about the role and responsibility of the FS which has nothing to do with the development."


And here is a link to the entire correspondence.

As we have reported, the local Forest Service does some fine work in fire fighting and prevention. But decisions being made at upper levels seem to be favoring a destructive development.

The story has gone beyond NPR (National Public Radio). A recent story in the New York Times  clearly puts the ball in the Forest Service’s court. Here is an excerpt:

“In Tusayan, the City Council, which was elected in large part with support from the developers, has approved a plan to build housing, hotels and retail around the small village. The next step is winning approval from the United States Forest Service to build roads through protected land.”

(For those new to the area Councilman Bill Fitzgerald is not connected to the developer and has been the lone voice against Stilo)

And here is a link to the entire article.

The article goes on to say:

“Building this suburban development there would have an impact on the lifeblood of the national park,” said Bob Irvin, the president of American Rivers, a nonprofit organization. “It’s a threat to the groundwater supply of the Colorado River. We named it as the most endangered river in the nation two years ago.”

If the Forest Service does give the go-ahead for the roads and Stilo is allowed to exploit the area, the Forest Service will not be able to dodge responsibility for the outcome, no matter how well coordinated its public relations efforts may be.