Thursday, December 3, 2009

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.

The surveying that GLO required before preparing a park measure was carried on in 1901-5. The odd sections belonging to the Santa Fe had become another impediment to a recommendation on the park. In 1902, the Santa Fe offered to surrender title in exchange for 375,000 ac of agriculture land in New Mexico. The agreement was reached at a conference held with TR present in March.
(Six years later, in 1908, Secretary of the Interior Garfield suggested to TR that the US got a raw deal, since the Reserve lands were worthless. He suspected HJHagerman who did the selection maneuvered the deal since he and his relatives bought the lands from the railroad. TR said check it out, but Santa Fe's President Ripley rejected the charge of worthless lands for valuable, indignantly. The railroad man said the US initiated deal and we paid for survey. We even had to accept some restrictions on our land. At this point Garfield backed off and closed the matter. Mr. Hagerman will show up again when the railroad tries to obtain title to half the Hualapai reservation.)

By 1906, the ATSF said it had relinquished the relevant lands, and that it would be advantageous to move toward a park.  It asked USGS Director Walcott for his opinion in Jan 1906. Finally, in December, Walcott came out for the park idea, and in Jan 1907, maps and a draft bill were sent to Jansen of the Santa Fe.

In Jun 1907, the Forest Service, having taken over the GCNF from GLO two years earlier, said it was considering a park, and asked USGS for a boundary that would follow the rim. The USGS replied that it would favor either a park or a monument. Its suggested boundaries for a park would go from Marble Canyon to Cataract Creek, south to Red  Butte, and would include a large part of the Kaibab Plateau, a generous swath, something like the blue lines on this map, the base of which is the map the Forest Service drew after the Monument was proclaimed. The black boundary inside the blue is the NM of 1908, which was what the USGS saw as required

under the 1906 Antiquities Act, the smallest area "compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected", including Cataract since "we do not believe any difficulty will arise on account of the reservation of the Havasupai". Incidentally, I am dubious about that western extension to longitude 113, which is inside the Hualapai Reservation. Indeed, the blue boundary is too expansive to be entirely credible for the USGS.

In October, the Forest Service inquired about the monument being of great scientific interest. USGS replied that its mining and chief geologists were against it, since the National Forest already guards the area and Congress did not intend such.

The USGS occupied a central role in this period, but not a clearly admirable one. It dragged its feet on getting the survey done, it may have approved of a park only under prodding by the Santa Fe, it placed mineral deposits above other values, it ignored the Havasupai, it seems not to have favored the monument idea or any other radical thought. The GLO, while supporting the park idea, was hardly a crusading agency, and after 1904, jurisdiction had passed to the Forest Service, which, definitely on a crusade, had its own priorities. Some more charged engine was needed.

Was establishment of a Game Preserve in the Grand Canyon Forest Reserve that step? It seems to fit into a nice protection sequence, and yet. In the archives, the first mention is Dec 1903 from CAMcCue, an instructor at Michigan Agriculture College, who asked FEOlmsted, " What do you think of a game preserve in the Buckskin and reaching east to the Ferry?" Olmsted asked him to report, presenting the pros and cons. And indeed there were locals who favored the idea, although there was much more discussion about keeping the Forest boundary six miles south of the Utah state line, mostly from stockmen who pointed out that it was scrub not forestland, and used by sheep. In any event, enabling legislation was passed in June 1906, followed by a proclamation in November.

Benedict looked over the area for the Forest Service and reported in 1907 to Pinchot that the Game Preserve was "wise", would protect game, be a breeding ground for endangered animals, and provide stock for zoos. He was particularly impressed by the buffalo herd in House Rock, and wanted to add the plains over to the Colorado. The only problem was the lions, who were undesirable as they were hard on the deer and horses; so Benedict instructed Mr. Owens (a renowned varmint basher and TR's hunting colleague) as ranger to put his whole time on the lions. Ten were promptly dispatched, along with unnumbered coyotes.

Well, all thats another story. The point here is that the Game Preserve legislation and proclamation had nothing to do with protecting lands or withdrawing any from any entry or use other than killing game. Rothman's history of National Monuments suggests otherwise:
Under the terms of the forest reserve, Ralph Henry Cameron, a local politician who later became a United States senator from Arizona, staked out mining claims at some of the most advantageous tourist locations. His domain included the Bright Angel trail, the main route from the south rim to the bottom of the canyon. But Roosevelt's establishment of a game reserve in early 1906 prohibited the future filing of mining claims.
I think this is not so; the Game Preserve was proclaimed to prevent taking game and recognize their breeding place. it was aimed, not at where the tourists were coming on the south, but at "all those lands within the GCFR, lying north and west of the Colorado River" (my emphasis). Additionally, in his Autobiography, TR lists the Game Preserve, of 1-1/2 million acres, as one of his achievements, but does not mention Grand Canyon National Monument.

The Canyon gained nothing from the Game Preserve. Rather, the reverse was true; the Canyon's name provided cover for a hunting and breeding ground. For the Canyon, something was needed that took better aim at the two-legged animals.

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