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Carved out by the Colorado River in the State of Arizona about six million years ago is the Grand Canyon – a canyon that measures 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and over a mile deep. With such elevations, the Canyon creates its own weather and experiences extreme heat in the summer to sub-freezing in winter. Although there are no dinosaur bones that have ever been found in the Canyon, there is evidence of marine fossils dating back 1.2 billion years as well as remains of land mammals left in caves about 10,000 years ago. While there have been various Native American tribes and cultural groups that have been closely tied to the Canyon for thousands of years, it was not until the mid 19th century that settlers from eastern United States were drawn to the landscape's rugged beauty. The increased presence of tourists during the late 19th century caused citizens and leaders to work diligently for its protection. Although President Benjamin Harrison (1833 - 1901) had set aside the Grand Canyon Forest Reserve in 1893, it was felt by many that it did not provide a sufficient level of protection. Ten years later, in 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt (1858 - 1919) visited the site and was so deeply moved by the unique landscape that in November 1906 he signed a bill proclaiming the area the Grand Canyon Game Reserve. As the national mood at the turn of the 20th century was in support of conservation of natural resources, this helped give Roosevelt the authority to create national monuments and accordingly, established the Grand Canyon National Monument in January 1908. Eleven years later, despite blocked efforts from land and mining claim holders, President Woodrow Wilson (1856 - 1924) signed Senate Bill 390 on 26 February 1919 which established Grand Canyon National Park as the nation's 15th protected area. The number of people who have visited Grand Canyon National Park has grown from an initial figure of 44,000 in 1919 to nearly six million in 2016. In 1979, this unique landscape became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and had described it as "the most spectacular gorge in the world." Due to its popularity, it is no surprise that in 1997 the Cable News Network (CNN) and the organization Seven Natural Wonders had included the Grand Canyon as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
On this day, 26 February 2022, we celebrate the 103rd anniversary of the establishment of the Grand Canyon National Park which is protected for millions of visitors to view and appreciate this natural wonder of the world.
André M. Levesque