Grand planning at the canyon

  Some major environmental groups are taking the Forest Service to task for not thinking bigger and greener when it comes to planning a new town just outside Grand Canyon. In July, the Kaibab National Forest in Arizona released a supplement to its 1997 draft Tusayan Growth Environmental Impact Statement with a preferred alternative: 900 lodging units and scaled-back retail space. But groups such as the Grand Canyon Trust, American Rivers and Environmental Defense Fund support developers' plans for 1,270 hotel rooms and mall-sized retail areas. Bigger is better in this case, they say, because it allows for recycling building materials, using solar energy and saving scarce water resources. As Tom Robinson of Grand Canyon Trust puts it, "The Forest Service alternative creates no environmental model." Some environmental groups, however, aren't so sure tourists need a large new town.

The Supplemental EIS is available by calling 520/635-8225; written comments must be postmarked by Sept. 2 to Tusayan Growth EIS, Kaibab National forest, 800 S. 6th St., Williams, AZ 86046 or via Internet to mailroom/r3\

* Jennifer Chergo