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Tusayan Proposal Would Use Less Groundwater But Opposition Remains

An Italian company and the Town of Tusayan have submitted a new proposal to the U.S. Forest Service for a development project near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, it’s similar to one rejected three years ago, but depends less on local groundwater.

The Tusayan Town Council and representatives from the Stilo Development Group submitted the draft proposal last Thursday to the Kaibab National Forest. It would allow utilities to be installed and a road built through forest land to access properties held by both the town and company.

Stilo’s plans were rejected in 2016 over concerns it would negatively affect Grand Canyon National Park as well as tribal and other area lands.

"This time around we’ve committed in the proposal to not use any groundwater for commercial development, and we’ve committed to reducing the density of potential development in the future by a third," says Stilo spokesperson Andy Jacobs.

Jacobs says one option for water would involve shipping it from as far away as Phoenix by rail, and then up to 20 trucks per day during peak visitation. Residential development in the area, however, would still likely tap area groundwater.

Environmental groups have long opposed the development. The Sierra Club says the newest proposal will stress water supplies elsewhere in the region, and increase traffic, noise and trash. They also say the project would make it harder to protect natural and cultural resources in the Grand Canyon and national forest.

Ryan Heinsius was named interim news director and managing editor in January 2024. He joined KNAU's newsroom as an executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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