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Latest: Grand Canyon ‘mega-development’ voted down

Navajo council rejects plans for Escalade’s tram, shops, restaurants.


In 2011, a developer proposed building hotels, restaurants and shops on Navajo land on the Grand Canyon’s remote East Rim, with a tram shuttling up to 10,000 visitors per day down to the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers. Supporters said the Escalade development would provide 2,500 jobs in an impoverished region. Opponents, including Hopi and Navajo people, Grand Canyon park officials and conservationists, cited religious rights, tribal sovereignty and environmental impacts — plus the $65 million cost to the Navajo for roads and infrastructure (“Will Navajos approve a Grand Canyon megadevelopment?HCN, 12/10/12).


At the end of October, after years of controversy, the Navajo Nation Council voted 16-2 against authorizing the project. Navajo President Russell Begaye said the council opposed it from the start and is seeking other economic development projects, such as a manufacturing plant. “Thankfully, the legislation was defeated,” Navajo activist Renae Yellowhorse told NBC News. “But, for certain, the idea won't go away.”