Monday, November 29, 2010

GCNP Boundary Story. The 1920's: Different visions

Last January 31, I summed up the story of the Grand Canyon National Park and how it grew, up to the signing of the establishment Act, February 26, 1919. Since then entries have dealt with this story from the viewpoint of the boundary today, and in some detail, how to map the Park boundary on the south, left, river bank. I did of course try to get away with showing off the cart as it appears today before telling of the various horses that got it here. That needs to be rectified by relating chronologically the several efforts after 1919 (and still unconcluded) to construct a National Park worthy of the Canyon. 

I would like to add "and that respected the lands of those with whom we the people shared the Grand Canyon -- the Navajo, Havasupai, and Hualapai", but decades of disagreement (and still unconcluded) preclude so pollyannish a view. As well, there has been resistance and opposition from resource users and administrators otherwise attuned: graziers, hunters, miners, loggers, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, even other NPS units. I would like to add "but today there are great and unprecedented opportunities for cooperation to bring about a unified presentation of the Canyon to the public", but while that sentiment is true, it too is pollyannish as a guide to the behavior we can expect. That guide is, as too often, the past, and so over the next several entries I will lay out the story of GCNP's boundary from 1919 up to the time when the battle lines were forming for the  legislative struggle over the 1972-5 Park Enlargement Act. I would like to add "which was energized by the vision of a more complete Park we Canyon advocates offered as a positive alternative to the destructive dreams of the dam-builders", but that is only partially true, completely neglecting the long-time Havasupai repatriation effort as well as the knotty left-overs of the post-1919 stories I will now get to.  

Here is the 1919 boundary map:

The complementary visions here were, on the one hand--Powell's--, that of the biggest spectacle, the great scoop out of the earth. On the other --Hayden's--, a park tightly drawn in toward the rim, taking little stock land and water, leaving only rim land for roads and developments. No expansive alternatives were being presented, not upstream into Marble Gorge, nor to the west, as in the 1910 ASHPS proposal.

The general policy governing the new National Park System parks was stated by Secretary of the Interior Lane shortly before GCNP's creation. On 13 May 1918, he wrote NPS Director Mather:  "The national parks must be maintained in absolutely unimpaired form for the use of future generations as well as those of our own time. They are set apart for the use, observation, health and pleasure of the people. The national interest must dictate all decisions affecting public or private enterprise in the parks." On 11 March 1925, Secretary Work instructed Mather that "National Parks and monuments must be maintained untouched by the inroads of modern civilization in order that unspoiled bits of native America may be preserved to be enjoyed by future generations as well as our own…The duty of the National Park Service by (its organic) Act to faithfully preserve Parks and Monuments for posterity in essentially their natural state is paramount to every other activity."

In 1921, the Forest Service Chief set forth the view he and Mather jointly held on cooperation between the two agencies. Proposed transfers of lands should be examined jointly, and a transfer made only where the dominant resource was a nationally important scenic feature, but not where the economic interest dominated or just for a road or accommodations. Therefore, the Chief told his subordinates, they needed to cooperate on roads, including timber cutting and grazing near them.

Nice, but with the north and south sides of GCNP carved out of, and confined by, national forest land, how long could the new Service and the new Park be content working under the constrictives' view of the Canyon?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Second Look: TR and the Grand Canyon National Park that Wasn't

In my March 21, 2010, entry, I laid out a timeline that TR might have followed in the 1902-7 period that would have resulted in the establishment of Grand Canyon National Park a dozen years before Congress, with Arizona as a state, ground that sausage. Using information from Brinkley (Brinkley, Douglas, The Wilderness Warrior  Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America, 2009), I tried to suggest why TR did not. Brinkley emphasizes Pinchot's role in suggesting that Crater Lake was a less controversial first step, to be followed by a Roosevelt visit to the Canyon (1903). The implication is clear, that Congress was so hostile to Parks that obtaining a favorable outcome for a GCNP bill would be very difficult. So first, here is a list of what significant Parks Congress did create back then. Would a Rooseveltian GCNP have been so much harder?

Before Roosevelt:
Yellowstone 1872
Sequoia 1890
Yosemite          1890
General Grant   1890 (now in Kings Canyon)
Mount Rainier  1899

Here is what was done by Congress with Roosevelt as President:
Crater Lake 1902
Wind Cave 1903
Mesa Verde 1906 (contemporaneously with Antiquities Act)

I recently learned that the question of whether Roosevelt did not want to engage with Congress over Park creation can be gotten at another, more positive, way. Under the power he had to create National Forests (without Congressional approval), Roosevelt accomplished wonders. Brinkley and others all characterize Roosevelt as one who loved being the unfettered administrator. What if he had had that power for national parks? In "The Antiquities Act, A century of american archaeology, historic preservation and nature conservation" (ed. Harmon, David et al. (McManamon, Pitcaithley), U. of Arizona press, 2006), R. F. Lee summarizes (pp 28-30) the Act's history in a suggestive way.

Lee writes of the "enlightened" General Land Office Commissioners B. Hermann & W.A. Richards, who from 1900-6 "consistently recommended general legislation to empower the president to establish … national parks" as he could establish national forests. Lee writes that this proposal "met with a cool response from the House Committee on Public Lands" (pre-1904). However, a couple of years later, due to the work of E.L. Hewett and Representative J.F. Lacey (Rep., Iowa), the 1906 Antiquities Act was passed. It was not a broad measure. It did not entitle the president to set up national parks, as he could then set up national forests. Instead, it was written to enable him or her to protect antiquities ("Indian ruins") by proclaiming national monuments of a small and narrowly defined nature -- supposedly. 

Roosevelt promptly expanded this limited monument function to give himself (and his successors) an immense power: solo creation of de facto national parks. That is to say, many of the places named under the Antiquities Act over the next century have been of a size and range and quality that have all the characteristics of an American national park. The practical legislative effect of this promotion has been to move action by Congress so the presidential signature comes first, as well as last. In early 1908, TR proclaimed the Grand Canyon National Monument (the first of four, and we are not done yet), and 11 cranky years later, President Wilson signed a diminished, tarnished Grand Canyon National Park. Would we have done worse had TR, as I fantasized, pushed a GCNPark act through Congress in 1907? 

So, here's the point suggested to me by the several-year history leading to the Antiquities Act: TR was waiting. He had lots of other work to do, and he kept expecting the progressives in the GLO and Interior, and his conservationist friend, Congressman Lacey, to lead the way to his obtaining the national park power. And then he would create the GCNPark. Well, but,then all he got was a diminished "monument" power. Oh yeah?? He could fix that easily enough, and so he transformed the Antiquities Act into the Presidential National Park Creation Act of 1908. And at the same time redeemed his dream from 1902 of protecting the Grand Canyon forevermore. For someone so often characterized as impatient and rushing off in all directions at once, maybe this was an example of the smart man who knew how to wait.

And after 110 years of defending and expanding that dream, where is the Grand Canyon's TR we are awaiting for our times?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dams: Head in the Stars; a summary

The entries so far (April-November, 2010) have covered a half-century of dreams and investigations focussed on the Grand Canyon as hydropower generator. From the initial withdrawals and applications before the new Federal Power Commission in the 1910's, there had been a story of lunge, study, argument, and hold-up. 

The initial studies and surveys provided substance for the dream of a dozen or two dams turning the Colorado into a giant staircase. That dream was cramped a tad by those who had another vision, of a Grand Canyon National park celebrating at least a piece of unfettered Colorado River. More serious, efforts like those of Girand in the 1920's were blocked when California's needs were given primacy by the Boulder Canyon Project. Arizona then flailed about during the Depression, and just when it seemed to be a serious contender for the fine Bridge Canyon site, World War II intervened. This gave Reclamation the chance to wake up and get cracking on investigations. 

Reclamation's deliberations, however, were entangled in the demands from Arizona for projects to get its share of the Colorado to central Arizona, preferably through tunnels from dams at Bridge or in Marble Canyon. Even though Reclamation finally settled on a water scheme that did not physically involve the Grand Canyon, all parties had become stuck in the tar-baby idea that the Central Arizona Project (CAP) and Bridge Canyon dam were inextricably linked. When the former was put on hold by Congress in the early 1950's, so too was the latter. 

The hold on Bridge, and the 1940's expansion of Reclamation's dreams for the Colorado River Basin, gave that agency the chance to carry through an investigation of a Marble Canyon dam near Redwall Cavern. It was also ready to try to look hard at a 25-year-old idea as an alternative to the staircase, the Marble-Kanab tunnel. There had been a debate in the 1940's over how high Bridge could be, but the time was not ripe for a definitive confrontation. Nor did the 1932 establishment of a second Grand Canyon National Monument affect that debate; a Reclamation dam was assumed to have priority. The tunnel was not so immune; even in 1949, it seemed too egregious an insult to our National Park ideal, and a much too weighty an injury to the Grand Canyon. So Kanab was quashed; Marble studies went ahead, and Bridge awaited the revival of the CAP. 

When, chomping at the bit in the mid-1950's, Arizona tried to figure out how it could build its water project itself, it thought of Bridge first. However, although Reclamation could ignore the Monument and stiff the Park System on its "small invasion" of the Park, any FPC-authorized dam builder would have to be content with a low Bridge. That turned out to be irrelevant, however, as the ensuing noisy tug-of-war with Los Angeles over the Bridge site ended up deeding it to Reclamation, a common sense (for dam-builders) solution the hurt of which for Arizona was eased by its near-succesful run at an FPC-licensed Marble Canyon dam, a run notable for the red flag raised among Park advocates by seeing the bogeyman of Kanab waved about. I should say,  "the now more experienced" Park advocates, since the 1950's had seen a tremendous increase in their determination and sophistication as a result of their success in defending Dinosaur National Monument from dams, and discovering what had been lost in the undesignated Glen Canyon. 

The Arizona Marble effort ended in 1964. Those who thought of the Colorado in Arizona as Arizona property were shouldered aside. Those who believed in a federal, Reclamation, project for Arizona dominated the action. All efforts were to be concentrated on the CAP built by Reclamation, and on the Grand Canyon dams in Reclamation's portfolio. The time had come to authorize the Central Arizona Project, and its backers assumed, to dam the Grand Canyon to help pay for it. 

And there I leave it for now. Even though 1965-8 is the scene for the greatest of conservation, Grand Canyon, victories over the exploiters, and even though those are the years of my involvement, I am tired of the dam builders. The stage is set for their megalomania and hubris to bring an end to their dreams for the Canyon. Lets let them stew for a while, and re-join those who dreamt of a grander Grand Canyon National Park.

Dams: Kanab 1961: Deja Vu All Over Again

Kanab's last race, with LADWP and Reclamation taking turns as jockey, had a surreal quality. No one was seriously proposing to begin the battle to gain authorization of a Marble-Kanab tunnel hydropower project. The proponents hoped only to show that it was too good an alternative to an Arizona-built Marble power dam to be ignored. Yet, arguments for it were fatally tinged with fantasy just because no one could, seriously, propose it. Yet, it was such a seductive dream for the dam dreamers, they all were willing to see it trotted out, the ultimate element of a total conquest of the lower Colorado River. What if, these engineer romantics  with their plans and charts enthused… ; if only …

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Dams: Some details on the APA and the Canyon, 1956-64

Having told the story of the APA's grabbing for the brass ring, only to have it snatched away just when its fingers were curling around it, there remain many pages of my notes on APA archives. Most bear on the intra-state relations and squabbles, but some fill in details on how the Grand Canyon figured in the APA dream. I am not writing a history of Arizona's fight for water, except as it dragged in the Grand Canyon, seen by water mavens as a source of water to fill a tunnel, as a power generator to pump water from elsewhere, as a cash register to fund their dreams -- the dream here is of verdant farms and proliferating houses with green lawns in central Arizona, and the Canyon slaved to those ends. 

Another comment about the FPC process being so much like a law-court: Its legalistic procedures provided innumerable openings for delayers. It seduced Arizona into believing that, because they had the law on their side (water rights, damsites in Arizona, withdrawals shutting out Navajo,…), their case was righteous. If it had been only a congressional fight, a case of political lobbying, might it have gone more smoothly, even more swiftly?

So here are some added details of the 1956-64 APA/Marble story.

Feb, right at the start, attorney R. Marks wrote to the governor that the Hualapai should take part in all conferences on a Bridge dam. 
APA staff recommended an early study of Bridge.

Jan, APA told Hayden that because it was studying Kanab, it did not want the Park or Monument extended.
Jul-Aug flurry because of LADWP's application; Udall & Hayden (Democrats; D.C. delegation) urged caution to avoid any irrevocable step. 
Aug, Marks suggested that APA approach the tribal council. A meeting was set, and at year's end, the Hualapai petitioned FPC. Harza Engineering set up to begin work. 
Nov, Harza draft appraisal reviewed history, discussed diversions, including Bridge & Verde, and Prospect dam, but did not bring up he effect on Hoover. Drafts continued into 1958, with even more about diversions, none of which were financially feasible. AISC agreed to more study, but eventually became disenchanted with Harza's work. 
Dec Harza suggested APA apply for Marble Canyon dam, since its power would be competitive.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dams: The Sideshow: APA v. the World, at FPC Arena, 1956-64, part II. (replaces 31 Oct 2010 entry)

Then in November 1960, signs showed up of a compromise with LADWP. Hearings on Bridge were postponed on the joint motion of agencies from the two states, having agreed the dam should be high, and therefore federal. (Reclamation dominance over Bridge was thus secured; nevertheless, the applications were not formally dismissed until 1969.) APA was considering whether to make Marble a separate application. Hearing was now set for April 1961. There was a meeting of LADWP with Dominy of Reclamation, where LADWP emphasized Marble-Kanab. Dominy promised unlimited access to data on Bridge, Marble, etc. In December, still upbeat, APA was readying its FPC testimony, looking toward an April hearing. It met with S. Udall, Secretary-designate, who was told all agencies in Arizona wanted APA to press on, although action on Bridge would be withheld while they talked with LADWP. Udall seemed convinced of Arizona unity.

In January 1961, the schedule was set for pre-hearing, APA testimony, motions to strike testimony, answers to those, other testimony and strike motions, then action on motions. Real hearings in April. LADWP wanted a six-month extension to allow consideration of Kanab.  After the pre-hearing conference, the APA was miffed at LADWP which had used APA willingness to cooperate on Bridge to disadvantage APA on Marble. Early in the new Congress, Feb 1961, Nevada's Senator Bible introduced a federal Bridge bill, calling it like Hayden's 1951 bill. Congressman Rhodes attacked it. The Kanab study and Nevada actions worked to slow down the APA. There was also skirmishing before the FPC, with the Navajo moving to get the hearing delayed. And LADWP, with Bridge dropped, was determined to intervene on Marble. There was squabbling over whether the stream gage at Lees, below the Paria, would be damaged. LADWP strategy seemed to be to involve Reclamation, about which Dominy was willing. Negotiations continued, and in May, LADWP indicated it would offer Kanab in opposition to Marble, and wanted to divide Bridge from the CAP. The hearing did begin in May and the Bridge and Marble applications were promptly severed from each other, with LADWP and APA ordered to show why their Bridge applications should not be dismissed. 

[It is a measure of something, perhaps Californian greed, arrogance, intransigence or perhaps Reclamation's, that a deal was not done here explicitly to build a federal Bridge and allow the state to pursue Marble. The stakes were too high for control of the energy for such a compromise? Or just too deeply rooted an animosity?] LADWP was getting substantial help from the California Colorado River Board staff on the Kanab works. They were all putting in a large amount of work preparing, trying to make the project realistic, and writing cross-examination questions. 

Dams: The Sideshow: APA v. the World, at FPC Arena, 1956-64, part I. (replaces 31 Oct 2010 entry)

In previous entries, I have referred several times to efforts by Arizonans to convince the Federal Power Commission (FPC) to license Grand Canyon dams. The main story of what happened to the dreams of the dam men for the Grand Canyon does center on the federal government and the Bureau of Reclamation. However there were, from even before 1920 into the late 1960's, efforts to gain authorization for a dam built by a private company or a state agency. The downstream sites --Diamond Creek, then Bridge Canyon-- were targeted first. Then Marble Canyon dam became the state's focus in the late 1950's. 

One curiously twisted strand in all of this. A dam built by a state power authority would of course be a socialist project, at a time when Goldwater conservatism was rampant in central Arizona. The issue of publicly built power had been hot even before the New Deal and Democratic Party dominance in Washington (including Hayden and McFarland). Yet here was a public power project in a state with strong private power companies, as well as the Salt River Project, a locally based strong public power and water utility. As the years went on, the APA became more dominated by more conservative members, becoming a state enterprise founded on a kind of pro-Arizona patriotism championed by strong believers in private enterprise; solid Arizonan pragmatists mixing public and private to obtain needed power and water. 

One problem any analyst would have here is just how serious each of the contestants was. How much was the FPC still another arena for the political struggle over water from the Colorado? How much was it just to affect what would happen in Congress? For instance, it "seems clear" that Los Angeles Dep't of Water & Power (LADWP) in the 1956-68 period never wanted to get permission so it could build a dam itself. Yet, in spite of seeming aimed at derailing Arizona efforts, LADWP efforts could be innovative. It also "seems clear" that the APA's expensive effort to gain an FPC license for Marble became deadly in earnest, whatever its origins as a stick to beat the lagging federal water horse with. Of course, Reclamation always had to direct its efforts federally, at its department, Interior, and then the President and Congress. And, it "seems clear", Reclamation was dead serious about building any and all Grand Canyon power projects, even though its work often seemed reactive to the initiatives of others, such as Arizona's in the late 1930's, or the late 1950's, and that of LADWP in 1960-1. 

Whenever we advocates of a wilderness Grand Canyon--protected for itself and presented for the public--get smug about environmentalists' prowess in making the dams unpalatable politically and ethically, we might reflect on how much we owe to the squabbling and complacency of those hooked on the dam-building opiate. It is chillingly easy to imagine a less distracted over-confident government building Bridge starting in 1950, following it up with Glen in 1955, and capping it by the monster colossus of Marble-Kanab in 1960. It is also possible, though hardly easy, to imagine a clever, cunning, together Arizona scheming successfully with California and the fed to achieve its water goals, and ending up with the Grand Canyon dammed to a fare-thee-well. I admit, though, it is impossible for me to imagine powerful, arrogant, too-smart-for-its-own-good California actually cooperating with everybody else; if greed is its own reward, then those Californians who today experience the Canyon as it is are enjoying the rewards of their forbears' determination to control the Colorado's every last drop and kilowatt-hour -- and failing.

So now we must tell the story of the APA, how it grabbed for the loaf, and how it did not even get half. My notes on the relevant files and archives from several agencies are grouped under a variety of headings, organized here chronologically. My strategy is to set the scene using my notes on minutes of APA monthly meetings and on FPC files of the proceedings before it. These provide a framework, filled in with related detailed material from the APA and other participants. It will take more than one blog post.