I celebrated President’s Day 2017 at the Grand Canyon. I hiked the trails with young ones and oldsters, citizens and visitors from around the globe. I studied the canyon’s unique geology and learned its history. Surprisingly, it took 3 presidents and 37 years to protect this astonishing place from mining, development and exploitation.
Senator Benjamin Harrison tried to create Grand Canyon National Park in 1882, ’83 and ’85, but Congress declined to act. President Harrison established the Grand Canyon Forest Reserve in 1893. Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed it a National Monument in 1906. Congress defeated proposals again in 1910 and ‘11. Finally in 1919, Woodrow Wilson signed the Grand Canyon National Park into law.
How is it that efforts to protect so wondrous a place could be blocked for 37 years? What commitment and diplomacy empowered our leaders to save the Grand Canyon to be enjoyed by all of us? This struggle proves that we can persevere, and that with encouragement, our government can do the right thing. This year, I salute Presidents Harrison, Roosevelt and Wilson for protecting the Grand Canyon.