Sunday, September 12, 2010

GCNP Boundary: I: Harmony on the Shivwits (mostly)

Several different proposals were put forward for extending GCNP downriver from 1966 through early 1973, when Senator Goldwater accepted the idea of going all the way to the Grand Wash Cliffs, and introduced his bill with a boundary that also included the Sanup Plateau up to the Shivwits' upper rim. Most of this addition came from Lake Mead NRA (south of the light blue line), with some parts in Boundary Segment H & I coming from BLM (the crosses mark the segment limits). 


The "complete Park" advocates had arrived in 1969 at a proposal that followed the dashed black line, corners marked by red crosses; LM boundary in dark blue.

As shown, in fact our proposal took in the turkey wattle, and went to Snap Point, with much other land as well, in spite of our supposedly tying the boundary to the Canyon's drainage. Quite possibly, when NPS-DSC drew up the map for Goldwater's bill, it approximated our 1969 west end, though Goldwater's bill added almost none of the top of the Shivwits, while we wanted to add all its jutting peninsulas and some of the hinterland as well. 

At the time, the controlling factors may have been LMNRA territoriality, and grazing and hunting uses, although a large cattle operation had an extensive permit on the Sanup level that was added to the Park. Since that time, LMNRA has ended all grazing privileges on Canyon lands. Although we put up a year-long effort, and had Congressman Morris Udall's support, the long southern-pointing finger of the Shivwits ending in Kelly Point was not added to the Park. It is thus deprived of one of the most adventure-blessed and spectacular of the Canyon's backcountry viewing platforms. As I mentioned earlier, it is administered under LMNRA's Grand Canyon - Parashant NM jurisdiction. Of all the several anomalies resulting from the Grand Canyon's multiple splits in administration, this is the strangest. The Shivwits is the western, backcountry anchor (the Kaibab being the developed eastern one) for the presentation and protection of the Canyon's north side. Almost totally in federal hands, but split up between agencies that do not continuously cooperate for the Canyon's and its visitors' benefit, the north side is far from reaching its potential as central to an understanding of the Canyon and its variety. There are those who quietly praise this lack of attention, fearing the development of mass industrial tourism currently on display at Grand Canyon Village/Tusayan and the Hualapai show. 


Segment I sits on the rim. Here is a small piece, from the very large (and now brittle) NPS-DSC boundary/property maps drawn in May 1975 in response to the GCNP Enlargement Act, and after (I think) some field inspection:

Segment H sort of arcs to Snap Point (right under the "R 14 W"), and then as Segment I heads south, it closely follows the rim, except for giving the Park most of Fort Garrett Pt, an exception I dont understand, though it is that way on the Act's map. South of the solid black line is LMNRA; north is BLM. Interesting that that little sliver of LMNRA (01-118) is left floating, and notice on the opposite boundary line, how the rim followed the section lines of LM's boundary. Along some of the line, it tries very hard to follow the rim; at others, it just sweeps on by, even though the Act map above tries a bit harder. I dont know why anyone would have to care, but is accuracy important? Here is the latest BLM version:

The endpoints of Segment I are S.P. (Snap Pt.) and R for when it leaves the rim, right. The mappers here were trying hard to get the ins and outs of the "real" rim. This is undoubtedly conceptually correct, but then what does a line on an offical map mean, when it is as vague as the Act map (e.g. at Snap Pt.) with which we started? In this case, we all think it means the rim, and we all think we could find it in the field (not that anyone does that anymore), and so we are free to draw it as detailed, with its ins and outs, as we can. Except that we get left with LMNRA floaters as reminders of our conceptual rigidity.  It is also a matter of scale; the USGS maps that the National Geographic uses match BLM, but are larger, thus making it very easy to see that NG ignored the floaters!

So lets go back to that LMNRA floater on the left point, called Tincanebitts. On the Act map, the scale is such that the boundary, on the rim, also looks like it is on section lines. But the much bigger NPS-DSC map leaves the floater in LMNRA, as does the BLM map, even though it is so small I need a magnifying glass to see it (no help that both NPS entities are in purple). This is too fine a point for USGS/NG; the LMNRA floater disappears, as do two other even tinier ones on Burnt Spring Point, the next one east, which also do not appear on the NPS-DSC map, but do on BLM. Well, had generosity prevailed, all this would have been resolved by putting all the Shivwits in the Park, along with a suitable buffer on the plateau. Another item for the future's agenda.

So here we are: on this page, we have four different versions. Wars start over less. And, even without war, there is a point to this, for although there is (mostly) harmony on segment I, at least conceptually, the story is quite different on Segment J.

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