Monday, September 13, 2010

GCNP boundary J: Andrus, Parashant, and Whitmore Canyons

One of the major themes in any political history of Grand Canyon National Park is how often an effort to improve the boundaries ends up highlighting and satisfying the demands and objections of resource exploiters: dam-builders, graziers, loggers, motorized/commercial recreationists, etc. Drawing Segment J, between the Shivwits east rim and the western boundary of the second GCNMonument, brought local stockmen to the fore.

To begin at the end, here is the official 1975 Park Act map for Segment J:

Next here is the boundary/property map NPS-DSC prepared later in 1975 for GCNP, based on its understanding of the vagueness above:

Well, they tried, and with not a lot of detail to go on. They gave a sweep to the northwest horn, like the Act's map. And some of their line is on the rim, giving the Act some reality. 

But now look at how well the USGS did in 1985 on the lower part of the horn:

Definitely on the rim on the west, and goes over Mollies Nipple like the DSC map. Funny though, Mollie is nowhere to be found on the Act's map. But now that she has been located, she will stay. And anyway, those "Indefinite" labels should head off any criticism. But, oh-oh, what is that on the east side? The boundary has slipped down off the rim and almost fallen into the bottom of Parashant. Dangerous places, these canyons. Fortunately, when the National Geographic used the USGS maps, they carried the boundary back up to the full rim. Which matches what BLM does:

And, indeed USGS recovered its footing on quads up the river, getting the boundary onto the rim in the Whitmore Canyon area, just like BLM. But not everyone was able to do so well. Here is the popular, useful, and informative Indian Country map from the Automobile Club of Southern California:

Back to tooting the Act's simple horn, and almost an exact match. Very nice. But hmmm, where after all of this, is the boundary? To answer, a little history of the power of cattle and bureaucratic turf protection.

All through the 1930's into the mid 1960's, everybody assumed Bridge Canyon dam would be built, flooding back from inside LMNRA, upstream through the GCNMonument, and some way into the Park. A major proposal was put forth that would combine the unflooded parts of the Monument and Park, and cut out the drowned sections combining them into one huge Recreation Area. When the dam idea died, several versions were put forward for extending the Park downstream to take in the damsite. The generous one, championed by the Sierra Club, Representative John Saylor, and Senator Clifford Case, was first. It envisioned completing the Park by going to the Grand Wash Cliffs, and taking in side canyons and appropriate plateau lands. 

Not so fast, said those less fervently Park-oriented. One was Superintendent Bean of LMNRA, who argued forcefully that the NRA and all its uses (grazing, mining, etc) were worthy; people love Multiple Use. And standing behind Bean was the Senator from Nevada, Alan Bible, chairman of the Senate's Parks subcommitte and a defender of the responsibilty of people to protect the right of cattle to graze the public's land to stubble. One other key player was GCNP's worst Superintendent, Robert Lovegren, who managed here, as so often in his three-year tenure, to fail to defend and advance the interests of the Grand Canyon. Here is a quote from 5 Mar 1971, Lovegren to NPS hq: "the enclosed map indicates the grazing allotments in Lake Mead National Recreation Area. … this change (to the proposed boundary) would … exclude the problem areas involved in these allotments. … One reason why we believe we should make this suggested change is that Superintendent Glen Bean indicated to Senator Bible that the proposed changes in boundaries would not affect any grazing allotments. The Senator indicated that he would accept the judgment of Mr. Bean on this proposal provided there was no adverse effect on grazing." 

So all the possibility of a generous downstream boundary downstream evaporated. Here is what Lovegren proposed:

The orange was the best I could do to follow the Lovegren retreat line. The left map (from BLM) enlarges the central part of the larger map that Lovegren submitted. You can match up grazing allotment numbers 8/9-228 (west), 8/9-227, 8/9-228 (east), which are the ones constraining lower Parashant Canyon. Then going up the Colorado from Parashant on the rightmost map, you see how 8/9-228, 223, & 222 forced the Park to the innermost gorge in the Whitmore Canyon area. And thats it. Four or so graziers (and not many more cows) swung into action, and put the squeeze on our venerated National Perks System. So when, in 1973, Senator Goldwater introduced his bill, it looked like this:

Never mind the spectacle of the Esplanade, the volcanics-drowned Whitmore, the view from Whitmore Point, the incised beauties and rocks of Parashant & Andrus. Those who moo, rule. The Canyon's advocates did not like this much, and after Senate action, we were able to work with Representative Morris Udall to make what we thought were sensible improvments (now watch closely, for this will not last):

This was the map approved by the full House in October 1973. Most of the LMNRA affecting the Canyon is in the Park, and you can see two wigglies pointing northwest that we put in to include upper Parashant and Andrus. You can also check out (I will come back to it in Segment L) the grand addition of Kanab, as well as the Havasupai additions.

The Park additions were not agreed to by the Senate, and so the boundary ended up as I showed at the beginnning of this entry. Except wait! If you compare the Senate-passed bill; there is no "Boundary on the Canyon Rim". Natural enough, since the boundary was following those grazing allotments. The phrase was added to the House bill, to indicate for Andrus, Parashant, and Kanab (notice its repetition up there) that we only wanted land in the Canyon, not wanting to appear greedy. But the map for the final Act put the grazing allotment line back while keeping the instruction that that line should be on the rim. This is actually not a major victory, but it is important, for one of the ironies is that LMNRA in the years after 1975 Act eliminated grazing from Grand Canyon lands. Thus the allotment boundaries, except in archives, no longer pertain to anything, while the fortuitously carried-forward instruction "Boundary on Canyon Rim" is the law. So, BLM and NG have it right. AAA is wrong. NPS-DSC and USGS are part-right, part-wrong.

And someday… 
someday when the world is good again, the Grand Canyon part of Grand Canyon - Parashant National Monument will marry up with its natural partner GCNP, and bring forth a more perfect union.

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