Monday, December 20, 2010

GCNP Enlargement: Debate and resolution, 1925...

Under the Coolidge administration, a National Conference on Outdoor Recreation was convened in 1924, with speeches. This fest brought about a President's Committee on Outdoor Recreation, made up of cabinet members. That group established by resolution a (Joint) Coordinating Commission on National Parks and National Forests (also called on "Park Extension"), 24 Feb 1925. Mather and Chief Forester Greeley were on this CCPF, and there were three public members, the chairman being a congressman from Pennsylvania. Hayden was not a member, but stuck to it like Velcro. Its charge was to provide an arena for the resolution of Forest and Park Service disputes over interagency boundaries, particularly when a tract seemed to have desirable resources both for exploitation and for recreation/scenery. Since there was only an overlap of functions between these agencies, these turf battles featured claims and counter-claims only hazily comparable. If there was timber, was it to be cut or looked at? If camped in, which venue provided the better, appropriate experience? If there were deer, should they be shot or allowed to wander among the tourists, a tame spectacle? Given previous over-grazing, what path to recovery should be followed, removal of utilization or more active measures? And so on. The practical question was whether this CCPF could be a place where the agencies discussed and compromised, with members who could help, or would Congress again get to wield Solomon's sword? In any case, Mather believed that GCNP was one of the group's two priorities. 

Personal digression: Were my  experience in the resolution of disputes centered on our National Park System spread across many of its units, instead of concentrated deeply on just one, I would know whether my observations of the past near-50 years can be generalized. In the present case of boundaries, I have seen again and again that all and every party in a variety of conflicts have seen Congress as the eventual, last, and even inevitable court of last resort. In the history of river management, to take a different example, there have been several instances of using the law court system to gain an advantage. And though environmental law is a fairly recent innovation, the President's power under the Antiquities Act to declare the first Grand Canyon National Monument went to the Supreme Court almost a century ago. These, however, are the classical exceptions proving the rule, for the foundation of GCNP's distorted, discriminatory river management system is a congressionally imposed and maintained political settlement, and only Congress can ever finally provide a resolution, in this case by pronouncing on a true Grand Canyon Wilderness. Likewise with the first GCNM, which was only a step toward Congressional passage --the 1919 Park Act--, just like its three successor Monuments. To boundaries, river management and Wilderness, add these issues: noise versus natural quiet, aircraft operation, air clarity, the Havasupai's land repatriation, authorization (or not) of dams, planning a traffic system for Grand Canyon Village using rail, grazing termination, uranium mining, the impact of Glen Canyon dam operations. All have reached Congress. Is this the way with all Parks? Or is there something about the Canyon that shapes the political processes that work on its issues, so that the interests, affected parties, stake-brandishers, end up aiming at congressional resolution? Yes. 

But we were speaking of the Park boundary, and in 1925; lets return to that day.
At the CCPF's appointment, intra-agency discussions had come up with several possibilities:

This is my sketch of the north side offerings; the river runs along the bottom edge. Between the solid black 1919 line and R.E. Evans' most ambitious solid red was a 6 - 12 mile band of differences: spectacular canyons, ranges for deer and/or cattle, future timberlands or magnificent forest, open areas desirable (then, anyway) for development, viewpoints, road and trail layouts. Once again, had Powell/Harrison's 1882 Park initiative been realized, the debate would have reversed -- whether there were resources like trees and grass that could be released to users without damaging the Park's integrity. Instead, the question was, and still gets posed as, how can "the economy" possibly withstand the Forest's loss of one more tree, one more patch of grass, to be locked up inside a Park? 

Evans had refined his ideas into three recommendations, shown in red. All three took in lower Kanab (the western bump) and Marble (the eastern horn) Canyons. I remain puzzled as to why the Forest Service was, and partially is, so ardently devoted to keeping these canyonlands. Would Mather, focussed on the forest, think them worth fighting for, since they are, clearly, spectacular as well as amplifying our understanding of the Grand Canyon?

The straight red line not only maximized the amount of forest for the Park, it took in south House Rock, with its buffalo. The dotted red tried to follow natural lines while getting hold of VT/DeMotte, the Kaibab's "hub". But even the least of Evans' additions was way above what the Forest Service (Dist 4 Rec) had settled on. FS had concentrated on two small-scale changes to help the Park: improving the area for entrance and administration, and adding the Tapeats-Thunder drainage. A sizable chunk of forest could be yielded, but not the deer ranges. To keep the timber, although industrial cutting was still over 20 years away, the Forest Service buttressed its case with citations of the millions of board-feet that it had already lost or was consenting to lose. As for the deer herd, it would appear FS was more concerned with acres than animals, though it did claim it had a plan. 

At the CCPF's first meeting, 5-6 Mar 1925, Evans spoke of the differences between GCNP's legislated lines and its administrative needs. He presented his recommendations; suggesting there was possible agreement on the south side (see below). Hayden then stated that livestock, wood, game, roads, water, and recreational development should all be considered. Mather was "frank" (FS word) about adding VT Park to GCNP, since it was the recreation hub. There was concern for intelligent managment of game. In answer to the question of adding land for a Park road on the south rim, Hayden told Chief Forester Greeley to provide livestock numbers. Following the meeting, the Chief Forester set his staff gathering data. Mather wanted Eakin to report in preparation for an on-the-ground inspection. The next meeting would be in a month. 

Here is my sketch of the south side changes under discussion:

Eakin wrote that he wanted a strip for a road segment east of Grand Canyon Village between Buggeln ranch and Hull Tank ranger station. The question was whether the boundary would be a straight line or a jog so that Tusayan NF could keep Hull intact. Farther east, problems over the large southeastern addition suggested by Evans came from private landowners, who were universally antagonistic, and Navajo grazing, which prevented wildlife from flourishing. The boundary west of the Village needed to be on legal lines since the road alignment used in the 1919 Act and its benchmarks had been changed or taken. It also affected where the Park could put its septic effluent. Eakin wrote that there was little yellow pine in his additions, and if the Park got Bugglen's land, all grazing could be ended. He also wanted land "to thrust hunters at a safe distance from auto highways". He argued that FS was not bothering to fight Black Hills beetle in the pine, so we might as well get more of the forest land for the tourists. Eakin had already met with the Tusayan supervisor, and later told Mather that Hayden did not like the large southern boundary changes, but thought some north changes were wise.  Hayden had indeed heard from local stockmen, worried about the southeastern proposal interfering with their winter cattle range. He told them that at the April meeting, Evans' ideas were immediately attacked by Forester Greeley, and I insisted it be studied on the ground, so I doubt anything serous will come of it. Hayden was told of Buggeln's worries: He had kept his ranch access out of the Park in 1919; now NPS was after it again. As indeed it was, since the eastern road alignment was at stake. 

In April, Evans argued that important rim points (like those south of Stina Canyon on the west of the North Rim) should be accessible by Park road. He repeated the NPS view that VT was the natural road hub. East of that, the natural features were indefinite and the Park needed legal lines. However, by that April meeting, the FS had gathered its data and arguments. Its District IV had proposed, of its own volition!, a 43,160-acre addition on the north side a year previous. The FS stated that none of Evans's three proposals, although done for NPS, were in accord with Park System principles. For instance, the Kaibab has no outstanding topographic features, only timber, parks, and deer. Views to the west cannot compare with the main canyon. There are recreation values, but not as wilderness [a debate then going on in the FS]. The new FS boundary would be identifiable, but not Evans'. FS was already protecting the open parks, which lack water. Any development at VT, for instance, would be limited by water supply, and the Forest Service provided data on the "69 water sources" on and under the Kaibab (on the north side map, these are the little circles with numbers). Other places, like Robbers Roost or Dry Park, can serve the Park. The timber value was high. Evans' ideas would take over 300 mbf, while FS's would lose only 140 mbf; the Park already has 262 mbf. The deer herd is remarkable only because it is large, and it has gotten that way under FS administration, with an increase of 6-8,000/year. The Forest Service did not agree with depending on deer control by non-human predation; the deer are a resource for food and sport, so large numbers need to be "utilized". Grazing is now by residents, not one large company like GCCC. Forest and game values would not be lost if land is left as NF, as Park advocates implied. 

On the south side, the effort to remove irregular lines found favor with the local NF supervisor. The line was to be carried straight across Cataract Canyon, picking up a small point; no FS objection "since it is all indian country". Although Evans (having been there) no longer dismissed the values of Long Mesa (antelope reservation) & Little Coyote Canyon (fine walls, recesses, pinnacles), no effort was being made to add them, and they remained in the Forest, a reminder of Grand Canyon's odd protection origins until they were repatriated to the Havasupai in 1975.
Tusayan's supervisor continued his commentary, claiming he had long thought to replace the road survey boundary segment by legal lines. However, we made a timber sale to Saginaw and Manistee three years ago, so rather than Evans' ten sections, we propose only 23 & 24 of 3e30. NPS pointed out that it is within a few miles of El Tovar, paralleling the rim, and even within one mile of the road. So they have some justification for worrying about logging impact, and we could meet them half way -- though not if they "are only grasping". The area they want for sewage in 2e30 has little forest value. Going east, however, we come to stock interests of Buggeln & Babbitt, which were protected in 1919 Act. They will protest, so we wont have to. We do want to protect Hull tank in the negotiation over the road alignment, as Eakin recognizes. The southeast corner has little but stock value, but we could give up a section or two near road. Overall, Eakins line is to secure an economical line to fence. But much of Evans idea is out of all reason. 

In May, Eakin expressed his concern that the FS was not showing its full hand, both denying and promoting logging south of the Park. He met with the Forester and other FS officials, who were out in the field on inspection. He agreed to leave Hull tank in Tusayan, but argued that pine forest was good in the Park for bridle paths, to protect against logging impact on tourists and wildlife. He argued for straight lines, easier to fence. Eakin also said they had more rangers for patrol. His report made the meeting sound like an intense grilling. Mather wrote to the CCPF, and summed up the south side needs: To get control over alignment of east side NavaHopi and Desert View roads roads, to add pine forest valuable for game, to end problems with road boundary. The latter now has many deviations from bad weather driving and benchmark removal. Eakin wanted a legal-line boundary, one that will not be too close to the rim and will have fewer jogs to be easier to administer. This addition would have been about 107 sq. miles, and would indeed have allowed a generous, roomier Park:

The Forest Service was not swayed. Later in May, it settled on agreeing  with NPS only west of GC Village. Too much of area south of Village was intensively used for grazing, and there was timber, so we only agree to section 12, 2e30, near the entrance. NPS did not need more land to buffer logging, since it will be done well away from highway etc. Eakin did not want large southeast addition either. 

DC FS officials were continuing their inspection, on the North, having met Eakin on the south side. They tried to figure out where the NPS check-in station could go, without requiring any more Forest land; Little Park was the most practical. They also worried about the effect on hunting of giving the Park more of Saddle Canyon. NPS seemed to want to be able to make a circle drive to include the rim, but even so, Little Park would do as the natural center. In June, the CCPF received the FS views on the north side: Kaibab forest is not outstanding and below NPS standards. Water is a limitation. The western views are minor, and FS will give up trail to Thunder River. Developments can be near rim. We do not want to lose 40 more mbf of timber, and grazing is now local residents. Natural predation of deer would cheat people of food and sport, and hunting was an acceptable activity which we only need to buffer away from Park and visitors. It would even be better if Park line were at bottom of slope as buffer instead of on rim. Nevertheless, Mather restated his north side goals to the CCPF in mid-June, opting for the most northerly of the Evans lines (see first map): Tapeats Basin should have been included originally, since it is part of the Canyon; Indian Hollow is a winter deer pasture; Dry Park needed for road connections; VT Park for road and administrative center; East Rim for views and geological importance revealing "in a startling manner the uplift of the Kaibab"; South Canyon is the eastern winter deer range; 13 miles of Marble Gorge, along which there will be an auto rim road. So Mather combined both the large Eakin southern addition and the large Evans northern addition. And even so, the Mather Park would have been smaller than the Powell-Harrison bill of 1882. The multiple use agency of chop-chop, chew-chew, bang-bang was, however, not about to give up its turf. 

After the April meeting, the CCPF had decided it needed to go west and visit. There is mention of a June banquet in Flagstaff. Mather wrote Eakin about the arrangements, hoping there would be a "showing" (of visitors) on the Kaibab trail. The Forest Service stated its Tusayan NF position: O.k. to give up "indian country", but not otherwise, where there are ranches and patented land, lots of grazing improvements and "some" timber, FS units, and little game. Eakin wrote of plans for roads out of Little Park, but Mather wanted answers to FS positions, not accommodation. 

In August, FS restated its concerns for a hunting buffer on the west, but thought the Thunder River addition though long, was o.k.. FS need not give up any land north of Quaking Asp for visitor access because NPS could connect into the KNF road system. Little Park was good enough for Park administration; no need for VT then, and it is really our natural center. To provide a timber strip south of VT, move their proposal ½ mile north.  In South Canyon, FS wanted to keep an administrative site and a hunting buffer, even though NPS would not gain winter access if they just "wiggled the boundary" where the trail crosses Saddle. It did seem, in the end, that the negotiations were over small parcels, not the big questions. Evans had noted to someone that he intended to "get the jump" on the Forest Service, putting them on the defensive; and they were defending hard. 

In August, GNCP staff prepared memoranda for Mather to counter FS arguments about the Kaibab. Their claim was that the forest, the large deer herd, and the Grand Canyon, taken together, could not be surpassed in Park-worthiness. "The only rival in the entire continent to the Grand Canyon as a tourist attraction is the Kaibab deer herd."  "It would be a real loss to the American people if two years from now, the deer would become wild and cease to graze along the roads."
 [These statements can be parsed as bureaucratic hype, an indication of the hold on tourists' imaginations that a mess of tame deer struggling to find food had, or a reading of Park System purposes distorted toward its providing a frolic in the woods -- sentiments that may have made sense to middle-aged American men in the early twentieth century.] Logging and grazing should both be banned by law, i.e., by Park extension, since the Forest Service can now authorize them at will. NPS stressed the tourist interest, camping possibilities, and improving access. It boasted of its having greater resources to solve the area's problems. Eakin made several statements in the memo trying to show that the deer herd was in good shape: not too large, could easily find food, and did not require browse. He scoffed at opinions offered by Biological Survey employees. [It is odd indeed today to try to comprehend this antique NPS mind-set toward spectacle, quantitative superlatives, and the desire to develop its areas.]

Aug-Sep, CCPF, with officials and Hayden, spent some days in the area on an inspection. Its October report said this visit was part of their travelling to several places throughout August and September. Eakin summarized events to Mather; Hayden told him there should be no material additions on the south. The present boundary had been worked out after agreement from locals. So the only changes allowable were to make the boundary well-defined and keep the roads inside them. The officials present, including FS, CCPF, and Hayden, then repaired to Eakin's office to settle the matter. Hayden suggested that the west boundary should be a half-mile south of the recent road survey, and this was then drawn on the map, beginning at a point six miles west of the Village to avoid taking any pine. "This arrangement throws some very uninteresting country … back into the forest". It left two areas westward to develop game, and was satisfactory administratively. In the pine area, we are only to get the section west of the checking station. However, the FS agreed they would not log to the Park boundary, leaving a considerable belt of timber untouched. The FS disinclination to release any more timberland was backed by Hayden and the CCPF members present. So it seemed advisable to compromise on the one-section addition, since political wisdom seemed to be that additions on the south would bring objections that would jeopardize the definitely more important northern additions. The meeting then considered the southeast corner, and eight sections were added to facilitate a road to Cape Solitude. A strip of perhaps three 40-acre lots south of Buggeln's ranch will be added for the road, since he will vigorously oppose taking his ranch. He insisted on having unfenced access, on being able to divert floodwaters, and, since he was thinking of opening a hotel, to run buses. I told him this last could not be done; NPS would decide who could run buses on the Park. We all went over the ground, and Evans is to run another line, but I am afraid Buggeln is going to be very difficult. At the 2 Sep hearing, however, Buggeln did not appear. There was a hearing at VT Park, too. No comments from the public were offered at either, although Buggeln and other south side ranchers had been invited.  Hayden asserted that it was known in 1919 that the southern boundary was indefinite, but that all interests had been consulted, so legislation could be passed. It was now the time to determine a straightened line. There were no objections after this explanation, so Eakin opined that all depended on a compromise with Buggeln. After the CCPF visit, Eakin conferred again with Buggeln, and the FS ranger looked over the road alignment. They agreed that Buggeln would be left with 900-1000' to access his ranch without going on Park land, by taking all of 3 top 40's in 22, 4e30, and only as much of n.w. corner of n.e. 40 as needed for road. There was further fiddling due to difficulty of describing on legal lines. Eakin also talked  with large stock-raiser Babbitt about the now much-reduced southeast addition, receiving his o.k. By November, Eakin, hopeful about the Buggeln property problem, now urged Mather to drop the northeastern, trans-rivers corner, as it had no Park significance and was extremely difficult to administer. On the west, he had suggested to the CCPF that the Park move a tad down the Colorado, to get the mouth of Havasu Creek in. This gave a bit of a west-bending wave in the line as it came down to the river, deviating from the old Forest. [Given all the talk about the Havasu-Colorado junction during the dam investigations, this was a pregnant request.] 

In its 1 Oct report, the CCPF concluded that the economic resources--timber and summer range--of the Kaibab exceeded its esthetic ones. Water was limited to the treeless parks. Nevertheless, an area needed to be added to protect the approaches. During the CCPF visit to VT Park, the state game warden took a leading part in the discussion, and gave a "bombastic" interview later. Since the public supported leaving VT in the Forest, only Little Park would be added to GCNP. The great debate over the Kaibab's forest and deer fizzled out, as the CCPF sided with the Forest Service.  Mather apparently agreed with the others on what was in fact the FS-recommended line. Did he argue hard for any of the NPS initiatives? Was accepting the FS offer the best that could have been done? 

CCPF approved this report and its recommendations as of 19 Oct, according to this map:

However, it did not show the eliminations in the southwest & northeast corners, nor the Havasu mouth twitch. The 1970 Auto Club of So. Calif. map is more complete:

Late October, Interior press-released the intention to make changes, adding 45 Kac on the north even though there was grazing, and a net of 2000 ac. on the south. A reasonable deer sanctuary was now possible. 
Hayden sent the CCPF report to Coconino Country supervisors, as well as to the area stockmen, in November. He had made the two other eliminations NPS sought, being "of little scenic value": the trans-rivers segment and land west of Cataract that Evans had been ambivalent about. Late November, Eakin sent Mather a plat for the Buggeln property that assured a good location for the Desert View road. He reported a conversation with Hayden, in which the western boundary (cutting out Beaver, adding Havasu mouth) was reaffirmed, since the CCPF report had ignored it. He repeated his desire for the Park to lose the trans-rivers corner, since there was no survey out there, and anyway, it was a 57-mile walk or ride from Cameron. He repeated this in December in a confidential note to another DC NPS official about the southwest elimination of Beaver Canyon. He believed that NPS was "gypped" out of a ½-mile strip on the north by CCPF, which except for Mather and the chairman was pro-FS. Checking further, however, he withdrew his criticism. At this time, the Babbitt interests--one of the largest ranching operations in the Canyon region--wrote Hayden that the changes were acceptable, particularly the southwestern eliiminations. The CCPF approved some changes on 2 Dec, and the two eliminations on 8 Jan. Interior approved on 11 Dec and Agriculture 8 Jan. A final map and bill draft were ready by mid-January, and Eakin approved in early February. Hayden checked with the locals again in Jan 1926 to see if they had considered the report, and was told they approved. But the Buggeln line was still giving problems. In March, Hayden sent another draft bill and map to locals, along with a bill that would authorize the exchange of Hearst lands, 25 acres of the Park for 48 acres he would yield. All standard Hayden procedure.

Dec 1925, the parent Committee, with cabinet members, approved the recommendations:

On 2 March 1926, this enlargement and adjustment of GCNP boundaries was introduced as HR 9916, by request. Eakin wrote to Flagstaff worthies that additions were necessary for the road, and stockmen had agreed. Little timber would be taken on south, and choice grazing land was left in Forest. There was a wonderful addition of Kaibab forest, with deer, endorsed by Kanab & Fredonia citizens. Some lands eliminated, giving a compact administrative unit. A flurry arose when the Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce mistakenly resolved against, but Eakin's letter led to the newspaper pointing out the error, since the county supervisors had approved. Hearings were held by the House Public Lands Committee in April, followed by the Senate. Eakin, anxious, had to be reassured by Mather telling him that Hayden was at the 9 Apr hearings, pushing. There were no protests. In May, the House passed the bill. One questioner worried about private development, but Hayden was reassuring. 

In August, Senator Ashurst had found no objections from "big taxpayers and other citizens", but Eakin was still stressed, wondering if he could remain silent under abuse and unjust accusations. The Committee issued House Rpt. 873, 69-1, and the House passed the bill. The Senate reported the bill 17 Feb 1927, rpt. #1509 with no amendments; passed it 21 Feb.. The report just noted that the new line was for administration and roads, and local interests were in favor; no grazing land was affected. President secured approvals 25 Feb 1927 and it became Public Law 69-645. At home, Eakin had a deed prepared for Buggeln. 

Feb 1927, Mather wrote the president of the Union Pacific, effusively congratulating his company for winning the bid to develop the North Rim. He offered "heartiest thanks" to the U.P. lobbyist who "had more to do with overcoming … obstacles (to the Park bill's passage) than anyone else", a nice gesture since NPS, worried about the bill's lagging, had prompted U.P activity. And the lobbyist meanwhile was thanking the Senators for their "splendid cooperation" and supporting the "interests of Union Pacific and the public". 

May 1927, GLO had plans for survey, but it was only partially done, leading to fuss and delay until Aug 1928. Jan 1928, a livestock company wanted to graze on the new addition, but Mather refused, since the Forest had not allowed any. The Forest Service held timber sales near the south line and started cutting in 1927-8;  NPS complained. 

Buggeln continued to bug everybody, the biggest tiny issue in GCNP history. He repudiated the road agreement in December 1927, as Mather reported at the CCPF's 13th meeting. In struggling with this, FS was amenable, leaving NPS a "free agent to protect its interests". GCNP was looking for 48.79 acres in sec. 22 of 4E30. Greeley agreed; Hayden suggested it be added as an amendment to the Interior appropriation measure. He said he would consult with his delegation, and introduce it. Buggeln was informed and it was approved 7 Mar 1928. GCNP got its 48.79 acres with a provision that Buggeln's cattle could drift across the road to his ranch. But, a legacy, he kept popping up. 

And was NPS now satisfied with the FS gift and Hayden protection of locals? Given that its grand ambitions on north, south, east, and west, were almost all thwarted, was Mather, now at the end of his service, happy?

National Park Service archives, DC
Kaibab NF archives, Laguna Niguel
Forest Service regional archives, Denver
Hathi online documents, for Outdoor Conference report

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