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?

No comments:

Post a Comment