Monday, July 12, 2010

GCNP Boundary: Introduction

If successful, this history blog would, among other results, provide a clear view of the tangles that collectively bear the label: "Boundary of the Grand Canyon National Park". That view would, logically, develop out of the histories of how the Park and its neighbors came to be, and grew, and shrunk. However, I do not wish to wait until those stories are all told before trying to present for the reader a picture of what the Park boundary currently is, and what it might be.

From one perspective, an overall boundary survey will provide this author and any readers an outline, a guide, of what needs to be covered in the stories I will be telling. From another, it will gather references to documentation where it exists, and suggest holes to fill where it does not. From still another, a survey of what the boundary appears to be today, in 2010, will indicate where it is unsettled, where there are claims and counterclaims, and where it needs to be changed for a more correct, more comprehensive, "line". 

The line, in our political-legal system, is all important. We draw them, in the sand if we want them washed or blown away, with fences if we want to assert our territory, on paper if we want them to be legally recognized. They are both invisibly thin and weightily massive. They are compromises, and promises. They settle disputes, but sometimes only to provide a breather before the next attempt to move them. 

The Grand Canyon National Park's boundary, in particular, is a collection of lines resulting from decisions made, un-made, re-made, and still to be made. My initial listing shows fourteen divisions, some of which have sub-divisions with varying antecedents; I am curious as to how many segments I will end up with. I will present and summarize them here, and then write up each in its own blog entry, or entries. This project will be interrupted with episodes from the continuing Dams story--it will also be a relief from that. The project is of some current importance because it is on the Park Service's agenda, too. 

It may well be on others', for to say "Park boundary" is also to invoke the owner/administrator on the other side of the line. Here they are: 
For convenience, from Lee's Ferry to the Grand Wash Cliffs, the Colorado River, and its Canyon, have a North Side and a South Side. Remarkably, given the huge percentage of visitors who go to Grand Canyon Village at the South Rim, most of the South Side is in three private ownerships. Some might prefer to say "sovereign" or "land held in trust" instead of "private" for lands of the Navajo, Havasupai, and Hualapai. My point here is that, perhaps, arguably, only 20%, by some measure, of the South Side of the Canyon is under the jurisdiction of the Park, that is to say, the federal government, the government of us all. 20%. The future of the other 80% of the South Side of the Grand Canyon lies in the hands of the Navajo, the Havasupai, the Hualapai. It is worth noting that the boundary contact of much of that 20% is with Kaibab National Forest, another federal entity. 

The Canyon's North Side is almost entirely federal: the Park, Lake Mead & Glen Canyon National Recreation Areas, Kaibab National Forest, Bureau of Land Management. There are Wildernesses like Kanab, and there are Monuments like Grand Canyon - Parashant; their administration, under somewhat different rules, remains under the original agencies. 

Simple, huh? Four owners. With one divided among three agencies-- well four, or five, or six, or seven, or whatever, regimes. Different regimes, that is what boundary lines mark. So, starting up where the Paria joins the Colorado,… Well, no, lets back off a bit for a big view, and permit me to present again, OUR big view--whoever WE are, since we do not always agree--of how we might go about determining an ultimately appropriate Grand Canyon National Park. 

You remember the 1910 AH&SPS proposal (my 28 Dec 2009 entry):  a sweeping vision that was perhaps more inclusive than informed. Ours, formulated in the late 1960's, tried to indicate lands to be considered as defined by the physical Canyon, which we thought of as running from Lee's Ferry to the Grand Wash Cliffs, and then climbing to include all the length of the main gorge (including the part named Marble), over the rims and back to include important stretches of the plateaus the Canyon was cut into, as well as the major reaches of all those tributaries that give the Canyon such variety on intimate and sub-Grand scales. (See that 12/28/09 entry for a map.)

Right away, there is trouble. How much of the Kaibab, Kanab, Uinkarets, Shivwits Plateaus? How far up Havasu, Kanab, Paria, the Little Colorado, Parashant-Andrus, Whitmore, to go? How to deal with the different ownerships and agency regimes? By 1974, our vision had responded to practicalities, and we hoped the Park might look like this: 

And there we will leave the Introduction. Next time, the fourteen (give or take) segments.

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