Developers for the Grand Canyon Escalade were shot down by the Navajo Nation’s Budget and Finance Committee by a vote of 3-1 during its meeting last week.
It was the second Navajo Nation committee to reject the Escalade development project. The tribe’s Resource and Development Committee tabled legislation regarding its development in January, and the nation’s Law and Order Committee unanimously voted it down previous to that.
The Escalade bill — sponsored by Delegate Benjamin Bennett — will next go before the Naa’bik’iyati Committee, which consists of the chairs and vice chairs of the council’s various committees.
From there it will go before the full council; if it passes the council, it would be forwarded to President Russell Begaye for his approval or veto. Begaye has frequently and consistently voiced his opposition to the project.
The Grand Canyon Escalade is a proposed $1 billion development project to be built on the western end of the Navajo Reservation on the east rim of the Grand Canyon at the spot where the Little Colorado River joins the Colorado River.
The Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Confluence Partners, LLC, a private development firm, wants to construct a tourist destination with hotels, food courts and a variety of shops on the wild edge of the Grand Canyon’s east rim. They also want to construct a tram that delivers tens of thousands of tourists from the rim down to river level, which is currently only accessible by hiking or by rafting down the Colorado River.
The Escalade developers also want to add a river walk and possibly another restaurant at river level.
The project is being opposed by conservation groups, who say that visitation by such high number of tourists, the addition of a river walk and restaurant at river level would destroy the pristine nature of the area, which is what makes it special in the first place.
The project is further opposed by many Navajos who say that the area is sacred to them, and another faction of the tribe who are less concerned about that, but who believe if the project is to be built it should be built by and operated by Navajo firms and businesses.