A committee of the Navajo Nation Council has given a thumbs-down to legislation to authorize the massive proposed Grand Canyon Escalade Project.
On Tuesday, the Budget and Finance Committee voted 3 to 1 to give a “do not pass” recommendation to the bill. The legislation calls for the Navajo Nation to spend $65 million on infrastructure to enable the billion-dollar project to be built near the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers. It would include a discovery center, restaurant, shops and hotels on the rim of the Grand Canyon outside the park boundary. A 1.6-mile gondola would carry visitors to the canyon bottom. Confluence Partners LLC , the development company, which includes former Navajo President Albert Hale, says the project would create thousands of jobs. The Navajo Times reports the master agreement would give the tribe 8 to 18 percent of total revenues, depending on visitation. Tuesday’s vote came after a hearing at which passions the Escalade ran high. The Times reports audience members spoke about the need for jobs vs. the desire to protect sacred lands and water. Individual delegates reportedly raised concerns about a non-competition clause in the proposal and suggested the nation could more profitably do its own project. In October, the Law and Order Committee also voted against the bill, but the full council and president have the final say.