Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

Preserving the Park

President Roosevelt uttered these simple yet powerful words during his 1903 visit to Grand Canyon. Roosevelt, an avid outdoorsman and conservationist, well understood the potential for abuse of America's scenic treasures and worked harder than any president before or since for protection of lands as national parks.

"The ages have been at work on it and man can only mar it. What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children's children, and for all who come after you…" 

— President Theodore Roosevelt

President Roosevelt uttered these simple yet powerful words during his 1903 visit to Grand Canyon. Roosevelt, an avid outdoorsman and conservationist, well understood the potential for abuse of America's scenic treasures and worked harder than any president before or since for protection of lands as national parks.

Like many of America's national parks, Grand Canyon National Park is in danger of becoming a victim of its own popularity. In 1919, during its first year as a national park, fewer than 45,000 people visited Grand Canyon. Today, the park hosts more than 4 million visitors annually. It is increasingly important for each of us to minimize our environmental impact on the park in order to protect it. With your cooperation, we can promise future generations a canyon just as grand as the one we enjoy today. 

Despite the fact that the air here is amongst the cleanest in the United States, air pollution from faraway cities, smelters and neighboring power plants continue to reduce visibility at Grand Canyon by 30 percent below natural levels.

Most of this pollution haze comes from southern California, southern Arizona and northern Mexico. But we are making progress to clean the air and restore these views. Industries are installing better pollution controls and programs that help to cleanse city air and reduce the pollution carried here. Cleaner engines and fuels in our cars are part of the solution, too.

In September 1991, significant progress was made in reducing air pollution with the signing of a historic agreement, between the Grand Canyon Trust and the owners of the Navajo Generating Station, which reduced sulfur emissions by 90 percent. 

In June 1996, the Grand Canyon Visibility Transport Commission made comprehensive recommendations for the protection and improvement of visibility on the Colorado Plateau. A wide range of pollution sources was targeted, including industrial facilities, motor vehicles and fire. Members of the commission—states, tribes, agencies and others—are committed to carrying out these essential recommendations, an important component of which is strong public education. 

Our efforts are paying off and regulators are working with industry, environmental groups and the public to find better ways of reducing pollution. In 1997, Congress selected special areas like Grand Canyon to receive the highest degree of protection from air pollution by setting a goal to clean all human-caused haze from these landscapes. Air pollution, however, continues to affect our national parks. To support organizations working to protect the Grand Canyon, please see "Who's Who at the Park" on pages 22—24 for details.