Special Features and Perspectives
Characterized by lonely buttes, deep canyons and stark rock formations, Grand Canyon Parashant is a beautiful and geologically unique place. More than one million acres of high desert lands are part of this Monument, which helps protect a rich diversity of plants and animals, cultural sites, critical watersheds, and the majestic Grand Canyon ecosystem.
Uncurbed off-road vehicle travel, cattle grazing in sensitive habitats, vandalism of ancient sites, and nearby urban sprawl.
Great Tracts of Wilderness and Endangered Species
Elevations in the monument range from 2,300 to 8,000 feet above sea level, creating an area with staggering biological diversity. For example, Joshua Tree forests thrive at the lowest elevations, sagebrush, pinion and juniper woodlands at mid-elevation, and Ponderosa Pine at the highest. Over 200 plant species, including the Giant Mojave yucca, are native to the area. One hundred and fifteen bird and 49 mammal species live in the Monument region. The California condor and the desert tortoise are two endangered species that depend on the Monument for survival. Other bird species include the Gila Woodpecker, Gamble Quail, and summer resident Neotropical songbirds, as well as migratory hawks and other raptors. Desert mule deer, wild turkeys, desert bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope and mountain lions roam the area.
The area is special to scientists and ecologists as well as hikers and others. The rich cultural and environmental history of the area offers insights on climate change, human use and geological transformations over the past 50,000 years. The natural laboratory of the Grand Canyon-Parashant also has provided clues for ecological restoration of forests and springs and protection of wildlife, such as desert bighorn sheep and California condors.
Human History in the Monument
The one million-plus acres of Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument are some of the most remote and least visited parts of the United States. Yet despite the area's isolation, it boasts a rich human history spanning many centuries. Archeologists have discovered prehistoric quarries, campsites, watchtowers and burial sites, along with historic ranch structures in Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument. The earliest campsites date from 2500 to 300 BCE; numerous crescent shaped pueblos, field houses, check dams, and Agave roasting pits testify to settlers from the Basketmaker to Pueblo periods (1250-1880 CE). In addition, pictographs, petroglyphs, feathered arrow shafts, sandals and woven baskets have been discovered. The area's isolation has provided perfect conditions for preserving ancient ruins in context, with far less vandalism than has plagued other archaeological treasures in the West.
Because the archeological features are largely intact, historians have learned much about the lives of both primitive populations and early American settlers. Among those who passed through the Monument were members of the Escalante-Dominguez Expedition of 1776, as well as Jedediah Smith, Antonio Armija and William Wolfskill who helped establish The Old Spanish Trail in the early 1800's. Wood from the Ponderosa Pine forests of Mt. Trumbull provided lumber for the Mormon Temple in St. George Utah. Conservation and further research will help uncover more of the history of the relationship among early peoples of the region.
Planning for Grand Canyon-Parashant
The BLM is now writing management plans for this monument which is co-managed with the National Park Service. The plan also will cover the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument and BLM-managed land between the two monuments-an area called the Arizona Strip. The plans will provide the framework for the area's management for the next 15 to 20 years.
Members of the NLCS coalition are pushing federal managers to adopt a long-term plan that will protect the rare natural qualities of the area, including its biodiversity and archaeological treasures. To keep Grand Canyon-Parashant unspoiled, they have helped draw up an alternative management plan that offers more protection than the options drafted by the government. For example, conservation groups' alternative plan would prevent road paving and restrict off-road vehicles to those trails designated for such use-all as part of efforts to promote biological diversity and fully protect this vital Grand Canyon watershed.