No Ch-Hance: Navajo Nation Votes Down Grand Canyon Tram

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Native American lawmakers on Tuesday said not a Ch-Hance, voting down the multimillion-dollar Escalade proposal to build a tramway into Grand Canyon National Park.

The Navajo Nation Tribal Council voted 16-2 against building the aerial tramway and associated hotel and retail complex on the remote land.

“Three cheers!” says Jan Taylor, board member for the Grand Canyon River Runners Association. “GCRRA is thrilled that the Navajo Nation voted down the Escalade Project. This was the right thing to do. The confluence of rivers in the Grand Canyon will be protected, for now….”

Developers had hoped to have the tramway running by May 2021, had the proposal been accepted. The tram would have transported tourists down into the canyon to a riverside boardwalk.

Proposed by an Arizona developer, the Escalade project would include a 1.4-mile tram from the rim of the canyon to the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers, a half-mile walkway along the Colorado River, and a 420-acre commercial and lodging footprint on the rim. It would have employed up to 3,500 people, but would have also required the tribe to spend $65 million to build roads and infrastructure. The Navajos also would’ve received just eight percent of the revenue.

According to Adventure-Journal, former Navajo President Albert Hale is among the management team of the developer. The project would have brought up to 2 million visitors a year to the canyon’s eastern side. It would include 5,000 square feet of restrooms, plus an RV park, airport, restaurant, retail shops, and five-star hotels on the rim. River and helicopter tours would be a part of the package–of particular concern to rafters and kayakers, who’ve been dismayed at the air and river traffic surrounding Grand Canyon Skywalk at the other end of the canyon.

“They heard us,” activist Renae Yellowhorse told Adventure-Journal. “We needed to be a presence there to let them know we’re not going to go away. We’re going to always be here to defend our Mother, to defend our sacred sites.”

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