Monday, December 28, 2009

Going to (happy) extremes

Meanwhile, on its own, the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society (ASHPS) had come up with an astounding idea, and in November met with President Taft, urging him to extend the Monument by proclamaion to include almost all of the Grand Canyon. And I do mean "all". Here is an approximate boundary, courtesy of a Google terrain map:

When, during the 1960's dam fight, we in the Sierra Club decided to put forth the alternative, damless, future of a National Park that included the entirety of the Canyon, we thought we were the first. Yet our concept of gathering in all the Canyon drainage from the Paria to the Grand Wash Cliffs is here, as of 1910, anticipated -- in spades. Life jackets, climbing ropes, and backpacks off, ladies & gentlemen, in salute. 

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Pre-state (Arizona) Park proposals

By the time TR left the Presidency, the idea of a National Park for the Grand Canyon had been put forth in and outside of government for over a quarter century. His proclamation of a Monument pushed the idea along, not least because Monument status was seen as a strait-jacket on all kinds of development & exploitation. Park legislation would be a chance to "open it up", as the exploiters like to say. The Taft administration was of great importance first because in 1912, Arizona became a state, with two Senators and a single Representative. The latter was Carl Hayden, a man essential in much of Grand Canyon history for the next six decades, and a dedicated, if often quiet, toiler for the whitefolk and economic development. 

The Taft years were the scene for several Park proposals. Along the line of having fun with maps, here are three from 1909-11. The base map is the township grid for Grand Canyon National Forest, particularly showing the 1908 National Monument boundary. It is the solid black line drawn along section lines that is closest to the rim and inside the magenta lines. Some of the GCNF lines also show, with a gray cast next to the black.

The magenta lines represent an approximation of a proposed boundary sent by the Secretary of the Interior to GLO for information about private claims in December 1909. The description is also along section lines, which I have approximated by the diagonals. On the north and south, the proposal almost matched the existing Monument. However, right at the railroad terminus, bits were taken out to help the Santa Fe.The proposal did add in most of Kanab Canyon, up to Snake Gulch, (much as Park advocates convinced the House of Representatives (but not the Senate) to do in 1974). Adding lower Marble Gorge is the other notable difference from the Monument. There seems to be an attempt to stretch out toward more significance

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

How easy it was

I came across a speech given by one of the early national park advocates; an influential man who knew all about the levers of power. This quote seems to answer a couple of my questions, and Im only sorry that the simple world he inhabited has been replaced by the complicated intertwining of interests we are so used to see blunt and derail good intentions.

J. Horace McFarland, President, American Civic Association; Jan 3 1917:
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, the American Civic Association early in its existence saw the importance of considering that national parks were actually national parks, and not merely incidental parcels of lands set aside by quite incidental legislation…
Even before we began with the national parks as such, dealing with those already established, we thought it our duty to prevent aggression. It was rather early in Mr. Roosevelt's administration that I received a letter one day from a good woman who wanted to know if something could not be done to prevent the building of a trolley line around the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado. I thought something could. So did Mr. Pinchot. So did Mr. Roosevelt. And the Grand Canyon immediately thereafter was, by Executive order, declared a national monument. The trolley line is not yet there. 
Mr. Roosevelt was not addressed on the subject of national parks because the broad conception was not yet in our minds.

What do you think? A bit of self-puffery? An inside view of how the Victorian patriarchy ran the world? A true view?
I do think the last sentence sounds like an apologetic for TR.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Monument: Questions, Start-Up, Challenges

Review: As early as 1900, GLO Commissioner B. Hermann had talked up legislation to provide the President with authority to declare national Parks. He seems to have been genuinely concerned with protection of significant places by national action, and he had a bill introduced. His successors, Richards and Ballinger, agreed with this course. In the years up to 1906, the history of relevant legislation was driven by the desire to protect archeological discoveries, but the broadening of what objects could be given Monument status was a sub-theme. This ended up with the phrase "and other objects of historic or scientific interest" being included in the Act, after the more explicit "historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures". [See 16 USC 431-33 (2003)]

Sidebar: For a very full legal analysis of the Act, see Mark Squillace, 37 Georgia Law Review 473. He was a participant in the burst of Monument creation in the Clinton administration organized by Interior Secretary Babbitt, and shortly after prepared an extensive defense.
 If you insist on checking the other side, I came across these: Eric C Rusnak, "The Straw that Broke the Camel's Back? Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Antiquates the Antiquities Act", OSU Law Journal 64, 2, 669ff;  Ann E. Halden, The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the Antiquities Act, 8 FORDHAM ENVTL. L.J. 713, 715–16 (1997);  Matthew W. Harrison, Legislative Delegation and Presidential Authority: The Antiquities Act and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument—A Call for a New Judicial Examination, 13 J. ENVTL. L. & LITIG. 409, 410 (1998). Sample of legal whining over Clinton actions: "the Act has bred unintended powers, essentially allowing the president to single-handedly bypass congressional land management policies and initiatives and to determine the fate of public lands throughout America. " [Yes, that is the point; this is all part of a large, on-going, back and forth, debate. There will not be, nor can there be, any definitive resolution. Those who do not like the power do not use it; So far, those who do use it have not been reversed nor have their actions led to the Act's demise.] These articles present the articulations of lawyers (although work is thereby provided), not that of politician/governors. The argument that the President is legislating is absurd; the detailed disposition of public land is an executive, not a legislative function; but then, that is just part of the continuing debate.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Review: A National Forest Commission, and then GLO, had been memoing up a Grand Canyon National Park for ten years, from before the end of the XIXth century. USGS was making excuses for its lack of action. The matters of a survey and railroad lands were agreed to in 1902, and finished with by 1905. TR had included a one-line national Park recommendation in his 1904 and 1905 annual (December) messages. In January 1906, the Santa Fe asked USGS its opinion of a national Park, and urged its advantages.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

GCNM the First

While I dig around in my notes, here is the map put out by the Forest Service after the first Grand Canyon National Monument was proclaimed by President T. Roosevelt in January 1908.
Since the surveying was complete, the boundaries could be better squared off (sorry the resolution is not good enough to see the text; once again, the original is at  Click on "maps produced before 1920". )
It is easy to see what the USGS intended when it aimed to get the minimum possible land above the rim. Marble Gorge did not make it; that would take sixty more years and a dam fight. But USGS took Cataract (Havasu) Canyon and put the Havasupai Reservation inside the Monument without a label. I will get to an updating of that woeful tale fairly soon.

You can see that they have been playing around with the northern part of the Powell-Harrison rectangle, but did not carry the Forest up to the state line. There is more change to come, including a splitting and renaming of the National Forest.

Still Another Mystery: Monuments; No Park

We celebrate Theordore Roosevelt as one, and the most energetic, of the Grand Canyon's protecting angels. Yet untangling the history of the twentieth-century's first decade does not seem to leave us with much. It should have been a time of triumph, a time to build on the previous years' work to launch a Grand Canyon National Park effort. It was not, and indeed seems a time of splendid words and thin action.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The oldest relief map?

The Library of Congress provides another treat, a USGS relief map from about 1910. If your browser allows, you can enlarge this. Or check out and look at "maps produced before 1920". There are zoom capabilities there. 

Marking time; an irrelevance

In May 1898, the GLO had stated there was every reason why the existing Forest Reserve should be merged into a National Park. The status of the Grand Canyon was the concern of more than a government agency, however. The Sierra's champion, John Muir, first visited in 1896;  returning in 1902, 1909 and 10. The 1902 visit produced an article in the November Century Magazine. (See it at starting on page 4). He was a colleague in conservation, a friend, of Pinchot and TR. (Now Pinchot and Muir tend to be treated as sources of two differing streams of environmental thought. At the time, given the enemies of public lands, they were of one cloth.) Certainly, the Canyon's status was a common topic at this high political level.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

TR's Antiquities Act Abuse

Before we get back to the chronology, here is one story, about TR's creation of the first Grand Canyon National Monument , as told by Hal Rothman in his 1989 America's National Monuments: The Politics of Preservation (Univ. of Illinois, ch 4. Find the book on the website 
1903, TR visits the Canyon, and someone tells him that the railroad, the Santa Fe, having just recently brought its tracks almost to the rim, had decided to build a hotel back from the rim. TR says he is pleased at this restraint. A year later, El Tovar, on the rim, opened. Rothman notes there were no laws preventing such construction in a national forest. No surprise; as Rousseau pointed out, laws are necessary to protect those who would obey them even if they didn't exist from those who break them even when they do. It would have been the gentlemanly thing to do, leaving the rim in a natural condition, so visitors could see the Canyon in its primordial frame.

TR to the Fore. No Private Future

At the beginning of the new century, there was no Forest Service, no Park Service. That is to say, there were no professionals, trained, experienced, and/or educated into occupations directly relevant to administering certain types of public lands. A new book by Timothy Egan (The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt & the Fire That Saved America, 2009) gives us a wham-bam picture of the Progressivism of one century ago with TR (as I will call him here), Gifford Pinchot, and the beginnings of the Forest Service, doing battle with the evil ones who tried to throttle public land management in its cradle. A new century, a new president, a new American ideology, new, new, new.

Yet, there was the General Land Office with those forests and lands still in its hands. It is possible to give GLO some praise. We have met some of its field employees. The prevailing laws and ethos for a century had been to move public lands into private hands. All too willing, and often soiled, grasping, hands. The notion of forest RESERVES and NATIONAL parks was a joke, an oxymoron, an offense against common sense and human nature. Yet the GLO, with little incentive, did recognize the Grand Canyon as a public place, not just another carcass to be offered up for carving. And what the Progressives did, led most publicly by the trumpeting TR, was to clear space and imbed the notion of permanent National, Public, Lands as a pillar of American governance. Egan chooses a great 1910 fire in the forests of Idaho/Montana to tell this story. The emergence of the Grand Canyon National Park tells it as well.