Monday, January 24, 2011

GCNM 2: An Unquiet Infancy

Coming so late in the Hoover presidency, GCNM2 designation might look like a last-minute grand gesture. However, NPS and others had been working on Toroweap and GCNP extension west for five years. So although it might have come as a surprise to those not involved in the planning, it seems in retrospect a well-considered NPS project. That it was coincident with a paradigm shift in American politics and government certainly added uncertainty. President Roosevelt's Secretary of the Interior, Harold Ickes, was a new, and would become a monumental, force himself, but the complainants about the Monument came from the usual sources.

A week after the proclamation, Dec 30, 1932, NPS sent letters announcing it to Arizona Senators Hayden and Ashurst, "sure they will be interested", and only mentioning Toroweap and auto access to it. Given the thousands of acres of Kanab Plateau taken in, this was disingenuous at best. However, Hayden had already been awakened. On the day before, he had sent NPS a letter from WAKent who, a couple of days before the draft went to the President, wrote Hayden on behalf of the people of Tuweep, saying it was a very fertile valley with prospects of a town, and should be open to homesteading. It was an injustice for NPS to set aside such a vast public entry so useless for park purposes. The withdrawal should be lifted, to a line down to two miles from the Grand Canyon. Kent had already indicated he thought park values were worthy ones. So what I think he was writing about was the 1930 withdrawal, and just happened to coincide with the proclamation, which anyway did not meet his criterion of being within two miles of the Canyon. 

The National Parks Association wrote with congratulations, and an NPS press release celebrated the view, the huge cinder cone, and the area's remoteness [perhaps not what the pioneers of Tuweep wanted to cheer about] -- and was off on the acreage by 8% or so.

Director Albright hastened to reply to criticism, telling Hayden in the new year of the wonderful view and the possibility of constructing a road; indeed, the main reason (he said) for going back so far from the rim was to permit a suitable approach road--continuing the pose of innocence. He also offered a cinder cone and a connection with Mt. Kimball (he meant Trumbull), pledging moreover not to interfere with grazing purposes in the back country away from the Canyon, implying that grazing would be continued on the Monument, as it continued in the Park. [This was contrary to the original idea of the Antiquities Act trying to prevent any damage, but such niceties were hardly the point anymore.] And he pledged NPS was not considering any other land along the river. Disingenuous again, since the idea of a NPS-run "reservation" around Hoover's reservoir was very much being considered.  But then, as I wrote in my 31 May 2010 entry, Albright also argued in Jan 1933 to Reclamation that the Monument would not interfere with Bridge dam, trying to pour on that water more smoothing oil -- which in the event flared up uncomfortably for Canyon advocates in the 1960's dam fight. Ah, but then, in the 1970's Park enlargement fight, we all had to argue again about the best uses of the Monument's plateau lands--one-and-a-half shuffles forward, a stumble back --  sins of the fathers, and all that stuff.

Tillotson was confirmed as administrator of the area; this first year he planned only to study the ground. Albright, however, was worried about the Tuweep stock driveway "pressing on us from all angles", and asked Tillotson to investigate. So he and Kaibab NF Supervisor Mann inspected the area, Mann saying that cattle grazing was unrestricted, with the stockmen controlling the water. Tillotson opted for a liberal grazing policy. 

Reclamation pressed again. Toll was being worried by Reclamation's Debler, who said opposition would arise if the reservoir were blocked, which it could be if the Park were extended to include the Monument. So he wanted the proclamation amended, and Toll agreed, since he feared Reclamation opposition to future NPS projects. Albright replied that he was surprised, since Debler was present when Albright dictated his conciliatory memo and agreed it met his objections. Albright re-emphasized: "We never did have any intention of interfering with Reclamation… the National Monument does not interfere in any way, shape or manner with Reclamation."

In March, Hayden and Ashurst had received a petition from 44 citizens of Fredonia, on behalf of their 50-75,000 sheep and cattle. This would "practically ruin the strip's stock industry". NPS took unfair advantage, and this was the last straw; Roosevelt will act, surely.  The governors of Utah and Arizona sent an investigator, who held public meetings, and recommended limiting NPS land to a small strip at the mouth of Toroweap. In response, Ickes approved grazing under annual permits, saying NPS had no desire to "interfere" with grazing. However, he asserted that once proclaimed, a Monument was a fixed reservation that could be altered only by Congress.

The residents followed up in April, wanting congressional action to set back the boundaries, and circulating more petitions in Utah and Nevada. The worry was that NPS would wait, and then exclude them. Hayden replied that Tillotson was looking it over and would conduct a meeting at Fredonia. He also urged that the proclamation be amended, while Ashurst did not ask for any action.

The question of whether a President can undo a Monument once proclaimed has been considered by pro-Monument-power Squillace in his review*. The answer that a President cannot abolish what a President has proclaimed seems set enough, but --as we shall see for GCNM 2, though not until 1940-- what about lesser actions that would affect its extent or operation? Congress does have the power to abolish, but it can use the lesser path of appropriations, or their lack, to show its will. Over and over through the XXth century, the story has taken the narrative shape of behind-the-scenes preparation, sudden proclamation, outrage and threats, marginal changes leading to amelioration of the damage, ending with eventual acceptance and often Park status. For GCNM 2, the story starting in 1927 is still not done, with major and minor reversals and advances. 

As 1933 went on, Tillotson was active. He and NPS naturalist B. Thompson investigated the acquisition in May. Most was juniper/piƱon and sage. The "sandrocks" had varied covers, as did the Uinkarets. It was all rolling and arid--water was very scarce. There were homesteads down to within 6 miles of the overlook. They estimated 40,000 sheep wintering between Toroweap and Kanab creek. The area was over-grazed; there was overbrowsing on shrubs. Grass does grow when sheep were removed after snowmelt. Tillotson wanted to prohibit grazing at Toroweap's south end to help antelope. There was no grazing on the sandrocks [what they called the Esplanade] or south of Mt. Trumbull.  The grazing probably cannot be cut much now, but patience will make wildlife and Park values possible. Kent had not seen pronghorn for ten years; they used to be plentiful. No deer were seen. 1500 cattle wintered in Toroweap Valley. Tillotson decided that antelope should be brought back, and grazing restricted. 

To complaints from stockmen in the autumn about the fencing he was doing, he replied it was for the antelope. He also opined that too much land had been included, in part because the stockmen's worries about water were largely in the north half. However, there were sheep in Toroweap Valley, and Tilltoson wanted to fence them out from the lower end. He wrote one of the local leaders in November 1933 about grazing arrangements and his investigation of water rights. He tried to quell rumors, saying his only immediate plans were to protect antelope. There should be legislation, so lets discuss capacity and antelope range. 

Early 1934, Hayden was hearing that fencing continued, but Tillotson had not talked with the stockmen. Further inquiry found that the chief complainer used the east side of the Monument. But he continued fussing, assuring Hayden that almost everybody was protesting, although if only the Valley and the canyon under the rim were included, no one would object. Misunderstanding seemed to continue, but politely. An NPS opinion on the 1000+ cattle in the Valley was that they were all in bad shape.

GLO planned to survey in early 1934. In April, E.McKee came from the Park to do a reconnaissance of the biology and geology. He found differences from the Park's floral zones. He found Mesozoic strata under the lavas, and a 700' fault down Toroweap.

An NPS report on development called for a low standard road, and telephone line. There already was a limestone lumber mill on the west. Some sections that had been owned by the Santa Fe were being bought by local ranchers. GLO was also checking on various homestead claims, and finding that not all were valid. South of the river, 3V Livestock wanted to do an exchange, but Tillotson put them off--these were sections that figure much larger in the Havasupai effort to repatriate some of their lands. 

To judge by NPS archives, there was little noteworthy activity about the new Monument for a year or so. Still, Tillotson had seen constructed a ranger station, barn, garage, water system and fencing. There had been some water development for wildlife. Tillotson had also been paying attention to the main question, and in the late summer of 1935, he received a wildlife report aimed at protecting antelope, deer, and bighorn, and emphasizing the importance of Tuckup Canyon. Then in September 1935, following discussion during a visit to the Park by NPS Director Cammerer and Senator Wagner, chair of the Public Lands Committee, Tillotson formulated his recommendations. He stated flat out in the first sentence that ever since the GCNM-2 was established, he had "been firmly convinced that the area included … was much greater than was needed for national park or monument purposes". (A handwritten comment by HCBryant, his successor as superintendent, on the report says: "All honor to one man willing to reduce the size of an area.")  The NPS purposes were addition to the Park of a portion of the Canyon downstream, plus adequate land for protection of wildlife and of outstanding prehistoric cliff dwellings. HR 12306 and S 4790, based on Tillotson's ideas were introduced by request, perhaps as trial balloons

The original 273,145 acres included a large area valuable only for grazing and patented land, much being actually cultivated. Keeping these areas would work a serious hardship and injustice on the local people. After entering the monument, 11 miles of road goes through cultivated fields and improved property, not consistent within a monument. So he had made a paper location of a new line, which was then surveyed. He also had a field check made looking toward wildlife protection.The line he drew excluded practically all patented land. One patented tract was kept because of an "outstanding cliff dwelling" in 22 of 7w34. He felt very strongly that the area under his line should be added to the Park, and he offered a draft bill that included exchange authority and abolished GCNM-2. This would add 149,760 acres to the Park, while relinquishing 123,385 acres. He thought this proposal would meet with the approval of local stockmen and the Arizona delegation, though he had not talked with any of the latter. 

The grazing district was not impressed, and wanted all land north of township 32 eliminated, leaving only Vulcans Throne. In March 1936, another stockman suggested a line a bit farther north; that would protect his rights, since, unlike some, he did not overgraze. However Tillotson had already spoken with Hayden and Ashurst by February, and they were supportive of his approach, which included land back from the rim for wildlife. Bills were being drafted embodying some of the disussed items.  This version kept 155 thousand acres (Kac) and eliminated 118 Kac. NPS explained the proposal to Secretary Ickes by saying the Monument was always intended to be temporary until NPS could determine what was needed to "round out" the Park. The Executive Office also approved. Selection for private land exchange had to be of lands in the same county, Hayden said. State lands could be relinquished. The new Park lands would be exempted from the Federal Power Act. The senators wanted a specific reference to the new Grazing Service, and were willing to talk to county supervisors. Bills were introduced at the administration's request in both House and Senate (HR 12081 on 30 Mar 1936 and S 4503 on 20 Apr) by Public Lands Committee chairmen . That Congress ended with no action taken. Starting in 1937, things would get serious.

Sources: NPS archives from DC office at NAR
*Squillace,M., "The Monumental Legacy of the Antiquities Act of 1906.", Georgia Law Review, Winter 2003

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