A NAVAJO NAVY?
WHY BUILD A DOCK AT LEES FERRY?
The (Murky) Situation
According to a January 17 letter from Grand Canyon National Park Acting Superintendent:
“Navajo Nation Army Corps of Engineers Permit – The Navajo Nation has recently applied for and received a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers (COE) to construct a dock along the Colorado River, downstream of Lees Ferry, Arizona, within Grand Canyon National Park. The approved dock measures 12 feet long and 128 feet wide, accessed by two gangways, each measuring 60 feet long and 6 feet wide, connected to the shoreline. The stated purpose, in the application to the COE, is to conduct law enforcement patrols along the Colorado River, from Lees Ferry (river mile 0) to the Little Colorado River confluence (River Mile 61), focusing on natural and cultural resource violations. DOI Solicitor’s Michael Williams and Robert Eaton have been in contact with the legal counsel for COE, expressing the DOI concern for the issuance of the permit without consultation with DOI or NPS. The Navajo Nation interprets the western boundary of the Navajo Nation differently than the DOI solicitors, variously claiming the middle of the Colorado River or the shoreline along Marble Canyon (eastern Grand Canyon). The 1975 Act proposed the rim of Grand Canyon through Marble Canyon as the boundary with the concurrence of the Navajo Nation. To date no record of concurrence exists. The DOI solicitors have affirmed, in writing in 1969 and 2003, that the eastern boundary of GRCA is ¼ mile east of the eastern or southern shore of the Colorado River.
Acting on this news, River Runners for Wilderness sought more information, and ran into bureaucratic thickets.