Friday, January 14, 2011

GC's National Monument # 2: Birth Pains, 1932

A Utah governor, a Zion NP superintendent, an aide to the Interior Secretary, all had stirred the interest that led to the April 1930 withdrawal for study of the western Grand Canyon and downstream reservoir region. Yet it was two more years, May 1932, before an official NPS investigatory trip was organized by Sup't Patraw of Zion, with Toll leading the study. Sup't Tillotson of GCNP was included, and a former congressman, L Cramton, now an attorney for the Secretary. The Bureau of Public Roads sent a representative. Toll wrote the main report, June 1932, and Cramton supplemented it with his own perspective as erstwhile chairman of the House committee on Interior appropriations.

"Without question", Toll writes, "it (the Grand Canyon) is all of national park quality." The only question was the park's desirable size. Toroweap was unequalled as a desirable addition to the Park. Vulcan's Throne was desirable. There was little information on the townships on the south side of the river, but they are at least as valuable for a park as for anything else. Monument designation could be a temporary expedient before adding to GCNP. The lower part of the Canyon is stupendous, but not as extraordiinary as the current Park. Though suitable for a Park addition, it would not be necessary. Most of it was not readily accessible, and it would be expensive to make it so. [That NPS was not a wilderness-oriented agency.] If added, the area would receive but little development or travel for several decades. And even more dubious if Arizona opposed. The eastern part of the withdrawal should be added to the Park, but not made a separate Monument.  If administrative reasons should develop to connect these lands on the east to the current Park, which are now separated by N.Forest lands, [speaking of Kanab and Havasu] probably the Forest Service would see the need and give them up, since below the rim, there is little use for grazing or other commercial purposes. Finally, there should be no Park or Monument along the Boulder reservoir.
Toll set forth the existing uses: A few cattle men make a scant living under adverse conditions. One or two unprofitable copper mines are shut down. Timber is of local importance only. There could be hydropower development. Reclamation thinks Bridge may be built in a decade, and would oppose any block to that. If Toroweap is added, it would be desirable to permit flooding; the back-water would not adversely affect boat trips. Grazing is up above; water is scarce and sometimes alkaline. So it would be possible to set the boundary at the rim or a mile back, thus preserving the view and development points. Side canyons should be included only as far up as their scenic value goes. If the area were not added to the Park, there would be little change. A north rim road is infeasible because of Kanab and Andrus canyons. 

Some travel notes: They went to the Shivwits rim east of Mt. Dellenbaugh and onto Twin Point. They did not get down to the Sanup level, but descended to the west and Grand Wash.  Gassed up at the Mt. Trumbull post office, and there was a store with gas at Wolf Hole. 

He offers comparisons and judgments [invidious and culture-bound]. The present Park is deepest [not so] and most stupendous. Upper rim views at Toroweap are not as good as in Park, but the intermediate plateau views are better, since the inner gorge is deeper, narrower, more impressive.  "Navigation of the river can probably never be made safe for the public because of rapids which present unavoidable hazards." The reservoir will provide access by motorboat. He recommended that the withdrawn land that was not added to the Park be relinquished. 

And here is our hero speaking in 1904: "It is hard to make comparisons among different kinds of scenery, all of them very grand and beautiful; yet, personally, to me the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, strange and desolate, terrible and awful in its sublimity, stands alone and unequalled."--Theodore Roosevelt. Oh yes.

Cramton's comments echo Toll's on adding Toroweap to GCNP, and on not making the reservoir lands a Park. He wrote: "Conservationists have for two generations fought to protect our Parks from becoming incidental to or subordinate to irrigation and water supply uses. To deliberately bring into the national park chain and give Park status to such a dam and reservoir would greatly strengthen the hands of those who seek to establish more or less similar reservoirs in existing Parks." The same went for adding mining and stock-raising areas. Moreover, a Park was not needed, and not wanted, by Reclamation. A permanent reservation for the reservoir would be sufficient, and such a reservation could allow these "utilitarian" uses. With both Park and reservation under NPS, there would be a unity of development. 

But, Cramton went on, "Toroweap never should be sacrificed in any degree for power or any other commercial development. No power development at the Bridge Dam Site should be permitted to interfere with the inclusion of Toroweap and the Grand Canyon above it in the Grand Canyon National Park." Not so for the scenery downstream: it "does not posses such outstanding merit as to make it necessary to contest about power development at the Bridge Dam Site." So establish a Boulder Canyon Project Federal Reservation from Toroweap to Hoover dam. Later, if it is deemed necessary to build Bridge as an accessory to the Boulder Project; it would not at all weaken national park policies. "This being conceded, the scenic values of Toroweap, admittedly of the very highest character, should not be diminished in any degree."

[And so a moment of reflection. Given the mindset of these twentieth-century administrators, the battle over the dams had to be won before our national culture could be knocked onto a different course on these matters. Again and again, we have seen how they accepted, more or less gracefully, the demands of industrial development, and were willing to impose those demands on our National Park System. It was the mindset that could say it was unnecessary "to contest power development at … Bridge" that first had to be rejected so that the contest, really the national debate, over the Canyon could be joined.]

Cramton backed the idea of a highway paralleling the Canyon and passing by Mt. Trumbull to Las Vegas. He also floated the idea of a reservoir auto ferry. These would be connected into the federal highway system, which would meet with strong local approval. Generally, such recreational uses were very strongly favored locally. In concluding, he presented a draft proclamation of a Grand Canyon National Monument, pending legislation extending GCNP, and suggested Reservation legislation.

Toll's superiors complimented his report and were moving in July to get final action in shape for Albright. The western boundary was tweaked: in order to include the cinder cone deposit, the boundary was moved to butt up against the Mt. Trumbull section of the National Forest. South of that, Toll suggested setting the line on the divide through Mt. Emma, and wondered about including Hells Hollow. Tillotson agreed on the divide only. This bothered some who preferred legal lines. Tillotson was worried about the private land in Toroweap, saying maybe the line should be on the rim or only a mile back since not all of Toroweap was needed, and it would help to avoid difficulties with local cattlemen. 

Toll had also suggested that Marble Gorge be considered. Tillotson was opposed: its scenery was "far inferior", an "anticlimax" and a visitor seeing Marble first might skip the rest. Also administration would be difficult, and while he would like the South Canyon winter deer range, he worried about conflict with the state. If adding land on the east side of the Park, Tillotson wanted more along the Little Colorado. 

WAKent, a local rancher with patented land, wrote that he was pleased the scenic area was being recognized, and wished to cooperate. He would like the Toroweap stock driveway abolished and a highway established. In the event, the Monument status would nullify the driveway, said the GLO, which was in charge of determining what the existing rights were, mentioning railroad grant lands, state school sections, and extensive grazing. 

Most important, existing rights included water/power withdrawals and Girand's FPC application for a power dam at Diamond Creek, on hold because of Boulder Project development. In commenting on this in Aug 1932, Wirth of NPS (Director in the 1950's) said that even if the Girand dam were built, "there would still be 2200' from Toroweap to the water". He continued that it may be 10-20 years before there is a dam, and the FPC would accept a Monument set on a contour above the reservoir line, since that would not interfere with their jurisdiction. Already, Reclamation had written NPS that if there were to be extension of the Park, there should be a provision to allow power development. Arizona would oppose; copper mine needs might justify a dam soon. Also, a million ac-ft of silt could be stored. Tillotson did not mind such a provision, and Toll agreed, saying the only objection was the precedent, since flooding (by dam) would render the area more useful; rapids make the river impracticable for tourist travel. And because the canyon is so rocky, the rise and fall of a reservoir would not adversely affect scenery. In August, DC reported to Tillotson that after talking with FPC and Reclamation, they would keep their power withdrawals in place, but the dam was a "way's off". In any case, keep quiet about the addition. Which they all apparently did. This operation was all carried out within NPS and the Secretary's office; there seemed to be no public involvement. 

The proclamation to create the Monument was reviewed by Wirth in October. He emphasized only Toroweap, calling it the only place on the Tonto reachable by auto. He still wanted to keep their intent quiet, so the Santa Fe RR would not take any action on its lands. FPC and Reclamation could ask for alteration after proclamation. Cramton approved the draft in November. NPS Chief Engineer Kittredge chimed in puffing the possibility of building low locks so that there could be boating "clear though the most spectacular portions of the Grand Canyon", even into the present Park. "Of course, in the flood seasons, the locks will be submerged and access to the upper Grand Canyon not possible." But Director Albright called this "foreign" to the NPS idea, and as bad as the proposed tramway in Yosemite they had been fighting for some time. He hoped Kittredge had not told anybody about his idea. Kittredge said he was only talking about above the reservoir. 

In early December, the GLO had reviewed the proclamation, only stating that existing "rights", not "claims", had to be respected. A little tussle ensued over administration of  the new Monument being assigned to GCNP. Sup't of Southwestern Monuments Rose was offended because he was told that being located next to the Park was the only reason not to assign it to him. When told that it might be added to the Park later, he claimed using the Antiquities Act as a license to create "infant parks", a sort of "kindergarten" until they were mature, was "illegitimate". Of course, he was quite correct that the Act was, and continues to be, used as a step toward Park status, which is why we quote Roosevelt and not Rose.

Tillotson was told to submit a plan for "minimum" protection, using Park personnel. The proclamation went to President Hoover on Dec 16, and he signed it six days later.  Here is the map NPS used:
There are some curious features. The near-rectangle south of the river had no large canyon through it (National Canyon is a bit farther west), but was centered on a plateau. Although the north-south line on the map in the southwest corner from the river is straight on the map; in fact the description in the proclamation has a jog, as indicated by my thick black dash, a jog that remains in the current Park boundary; the township lines running north-south at that point do not line up. I suppose NPS was showing restraint when it stopped at the divide of the Uinkarets; given the interest in the volcanic history displayed, it would have been "desirable" to have continued down the river bank with its lava remnants, and also to have included the great flow into Whitmore, another lava-drowned valley.

Of much greater importance for the level of controversy over this Monument was the large amount of the Kanab Plateau included in the north half. This was very peculiar, since none of the reports or descriptions spend any time extolling or even describing these lands; Toroweap overlooking the river in the southwest corner was what caught all the attention in justification. The proclamation itself did not even refer to that specific, but spoke only of:

the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River … an object of unusual scientific interest, being the greatest eroded canyon within the United States (including) the portion of the canyon which continues down the Colorado River below Grand Canyon National Park

So why did NPS then include those rolling lands, primarily open and pinyon-juniper? Were officials just lazy, and so went with the 1930 withdrawal boundary, after extending it slightly, over to Mt. Trumbull? In any case, those lands stuck in the craw of Arizona graziers and hunters, first for a decade, then, after a seeming resolution in 1940, for 35 more years. On the other hand, they planned better than they knew, since the Park values on the Kanab Plateau were verified in the 1970's.

Another interesting quirk is the southern boundary along the river west of the near-rectangle. Here is how the proclamation said the line should run after it reached Hualapai lands: 
thence northerly along the east boundary of the said Hualpai Indian Reservation to the Colorado River; 
thence due north to the north bank of the Colorado River; 
thence southwesterly along the north bank of the Colorado River to a point due south of the quarter section corner ...
The pregnant words here are "to the Colorado River". These are just the words used in the Executive Order of 1883 to describe the Hualapai boundary when their reservation was established. But here the line then goes "due north to the north bank". Now that is just queer. Why did it not combine those two phrases and just say  "to the north bank of the Colorado River; thence southwesterly along the north bank"? Did they realize that the Hualapai boundary stopped at the river, so when the Monument line splashed in, it had to be specifically carried across to the north bank, or it might be swept downstream? And why not just run it down the river "along the north boundary of the said reservation"? Were they afraid of getting their line wet? Or did they plan to survey, or even fence it? Did they think that language would keep the FPC and Reclamation happy, because as the water in the dreamed-of Bridge reservoir went up and down, the north bank would go back and forth, and the Monument line would float with it? Very, very strange. If the Secretary's lawyer, ex-Congressman Cramton, really did draft the proclamation, he must have wanted to give future lawyers work.

Finally, the eastern Monument boundary abuts Tusayan National Forest down in Kanab Canyon. So that piece of "forest" was now pinched between Park and Monument, and causing even more future attorneys and lobbyists to dance on the point of that particular pin.

Well, I do not want to make too much fun; it really is welcome to be able to celebrate NPS stepping out of the Powell-Harrison box, and taking the initiative to recognize that the Canyon does continue west. I might wish that this step had not been accompanied by denigration of Marble Canyon and the lower 90+ miles of the Canyon (including the Shivwits region). And these 1932 decisions certainly provided some fun in 1973, when we had to defend them in the Park expansion fight…but that is a story for later. 

Sources: NPS DC office archives in NARA

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