Flagstaff City Council Votes to Oppose Grand Canyon Development

Mar 12, 2015

The Flagstaff City Council has passed a resolution opposing a U.S. Forest Service easement that would allow a large development project near the Grand Canyon to proceed. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the council’s move is in reaction to the development’s potential economic effects.

Sunset at Mather Point on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Credit NPS

The nonbinding resolution claims the Tusayan project would threaten Flagstaff businesses by drawing away tourists heading to Grand Canyon National Park.

Jeff Oravits is a member of the Flagstaff City Council and opposes the development.

Flagstaff, and to an extent Williams, has typically been the entry point to the Grand Canyon as far as tourists coming in. I feel that if you focus on creating this huge development in Tusayan it’s going to negatively impact businesses here in Flagstaff. We’re a tourism-based economy and here we have money being pumped in up there and easements being created through the Forest Service that I think are unnecessary,” Oravits says.

The project would include more than 2,000 homes and 3 million square feet of commercial space near the park’s entrance. But Tusayan and the development company Stilo first need the approval of the Kaibab National Forest to improve public roads to the site. The Flagstaff City Council’s resolution opposes that approval.

Environmental groups like the Sierra Club and Friends of Flagstaff’s Future are also fighting the project over its projected water use. Those groups, along with the Park Service, say tapping area aquifers would be detrimental to the ecology of the Grand Canyon.

Stilo and Tusayan have not yet identified a water source for the development.