Local News

New Kaibab Forest Supervisor Reviewing Compelling Case Against Stilo Road Project

November 1, 2015

Heather Provencio, the new Supervisor for the Kaibab National Forest, has her work cut out for her. As developer Stilo flexes its muscle to get a Forest Service road expanded, Provencio is sorting through a tidal wave of opposition never seen before on any request before the Kaibab National Forest. Tens of thousands of opposition messages have been sent, every major environmental group is in opposition, as are local tribes and neighboring governments.

The only support comes from the Tusayan Town Council, all of whom are employed by the developer or its business partner, Elling Halvorson.
Stilo wants to expand Long Jim Loop Road to increase access to its Kotzin holdings. It has existing access. It just needs a bigger road with lots more traffic to develop the land. The road would put that heavy traffic next to the town park and a future school site.
Provencio is now in receipt of a letter that not only summarizes why Long Jim Loop Road should not be expanded, but it also shows her the scope of the opposition. The October 7th letter was signed by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club, the northern Arizona Audubon Society, the Asian American Hotel Owners Association, Defenders of Wildlife, Environment Arizona, the national Resources Defense Council, former Coconino County Supervisor Carl Taylor, Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, Grand canyon River Guides Inc., Grand Canyon River Runners Association, The Grand canyon Trust, The National Parks Conservation Association, The Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It is also signed by Red Feather Properties, which has been providing quality employee housing without sweetheart deals with the Tusayan Town Council.
What is striking about the opposition is not only the numbers but the diversity. Environmental groups and members of the tourist trade community are united in opposition because they understand that if the Stilo project becomes a reality it would permanently harm the Grand Canyon National Park. If the park is diminished it could devastate the local economy. Stilo would be long gone when that happens having made millions of its project.
The letter concludes by saying Stilo and the town have yet to identify a water source for the development project and as a result there is not enough information to grant the request. Here is a portion of the letter:
“The Forest Service has grounds to reject, or at least suspend, Tusayan’s application until the
Town has provided the agency with sufficient information to conduct an adequate analysis of the easements’ impacts. As noted, Tusayan has failed to disclose the water source that will be required to maintain thousands of dwelling units and the potential millions of square feet of commercial space. Without these key data, the Forest Service may find it difficult to predict the magnitude of the development’s threat to South Rim springs, the tribes, and Grand Canyon’s wildlife.
If the Forest Service nonetheless decides to analyze the application under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Forest Service must prepare a full EIS because the development will have significant impacts on Grand Canyon National Park and its water, wildlife, visitors, and infrastructure, as well as on the Kaibab National Forest and the surrounding environment. The Forest Service must disclose the development’s full impacts because the easements’ purpose and effect is to make that development possible. Disclosing the
impacts of the development will serve to further underscore the need to reject this proposal.”