Friday, May 13, 2011

GCNP boundary: To tidy up. 1940's-57. (edited 17 May 2011, 10-1 Apr 2012)

Throughout the posts of 2011, I have tried to develop a story of the Park Service looking westward from the 1919 Grand Canyon National Park itself. Although there was no over-arching agency plan, and only a few presented a view of the entire Canyon in its Park-worthiness, nevertheless, by 1964 and the LMNRA Act, there had been extensive investigations leading to some kind of recognition for the Canyon from Nankoweap to the Grand Wash Cliffs. However, this story is probably misleading. The center for NPS at the Canyon was in Grand Canyon Village (as it still is). It was here that the overwhelming majority of people came to visit, and where administrators' attention (and dollars) were mostly fixed. For NPS, the 1919 Park had had its boundary changed in 1929, but not entirely satisfactorily. So even without an overall view of the entire Canyon, GCNP staff was accumulating a little list of fixes. The studies done during World War II on the Colorado River Basin  also stirred things up. 

The map below, based on the So. Cal. Auto Club "Indian Country" map (1970), shows the areas that were batted around and debated from the mid-1940's:
1. Papago Point (later Coconino Plateau) to move boundary away from road
2. Havasu Canyon; wedge including Hilltop access
3. Lower Kanab Canyon from river to "canyon wall"
4. GCNM Kanab plateau lands
5. GCNM southern set of sections
6. Hull tank

The question of whether a Bridge dam reservoir should lead to boundary changes and a formal Recreation Area was also actively considered, although NPS did not want to take any action that would "confuse" minds of conservation groups. During this period, NPS was also unsettled by a strong proposal to gain land for the Havasupai.

Something stirred up the Washington staff in 1943. Director Drury wanted National Forest land in the Havasu Canyon area to be added to the Monument, rectifying the illogical boundary and giving NPS jurisdiction along the rim. It was alright to allow grazing to continue.  Sup't Bryant replied only that it was a good idea, but the situation was delicate because local opinion was against any Park extension. Reg. Dir. Tillotson agreed with that, and thought there was no need for such an extension. So Drury told Indian Affairs any changes should wait until Bridge dam is taken up. This was the time when Indian Affairs was promoting the  proposal by BIA agent Crow to enlarge the Havasupai reservation--another, and a late one, in the string of missed opportunities [see my entry of 13 May 2011].

The next year, Bryant collected his boundary ideas together, particularly with reference to obtaining more of the National Forest. He wanted more room at Papago Point near rim developments, the addition of Long Mesa near Havasu, and lower Kanab Canyon. He was willing to let some Monument land go. He underlined the strong local opposition, and also Reclamation's ideas about eliminating parkland for Bridge's reservoir. 

As described in connection with the question of recreation areas, Tillotson sent Thompson to  the Canyon to gather together all the ideas for change. His 31 Jan 1945 report suggested the Monument go into a new recreation area, while deleting the plateau near Tuckup that is causing trouble with cattlemen. He was also willing to drop the two southernmost tiers of sections that were grazed south of the river. He thought Kanab and Havasu were the natural barriers for the end of the Park, but recommended adding the extaordinarily broken, eroded terrain west of Havasu and the southern end of Kanab Canyon that had no forest values. There would be too much local opposition to use Sowats Canyon's rim as the boundary. 

Then starting in April 1945, there were several exchanges arising from Thompson's investigations. He urged NPS to consider more than just the Park (which he thought had a logical terminus at Kanab and Havasu), noting that the Canyon was an entity. 

An NPS biologist tried to counter the urge to give away Monument lands by arguing for keeping Kanab plateau land in the Monument; otherwise cattle would get too close to rim. Anyway, some of the permits were ending. Hunting interests would not be injured by adding canyon land from Crazy Jug Point over to Kanab; it was outstanding country.

DC asked whether everyone was agreed on eliminating 17 sections on Kanab Plateau. Maybe a meeting with Reclamation could discuss boundaries, effects of reservoir, and legislating the recreation area.

Bryant did not agree on the 17 sections, but was willing to let some of north Toroweap Valley go. He agreed that the southern two tiers on the south side of river could be dropped, though only one large ranch would benefit. 

Tillotson weighed in, first arguing NPS should not fight Reclamation; there was no public support for NPS position. He agreed with Bryant on the Monument, and was willing to give up more. He supported adding Forest lands in Kanab and west of Havasu. Since he was worried about the locals, he suggested going ahead with eliminations, but not additions. 

Bryant then replied that he did not agree with larger Monument eliminations. Changes should be on the basis of our need, not some compromise with graziers who will only want more. He wanted the Kanab boundary to be on the rim, not the "unfortunate" line below the Coconino cliff. He wanted Crazy Jug Point, too, and some of the forested rim. Half a section at Papago was two small; two would be desirable. He wanted land near Havasu for access control. He followed up by almost chiding Tillotson: we are looking at the ideal; focussing on what is politically obtainable is dangerous ground.

Thompson supported the biologist and Bryant on the Monument lands near the points. But he thought asking for forested rim on north Kaibab would "blow the whole project to eternity". The Forest Service is not generous. 

Tillotson chided Bryant back for slur on ranchers. He remained firm on getting rid of more Kanab plateau, and doubted the Forest Service would yield forest on either rim. 

Thompson went back out in the field to look at Hualapai Hilltop. Bryant commented on his results: He saw many horses and a need for NPS to seek the "wedge" because its use as the entrance to Havasu was increasing. He reported on the scheme for a tramway from Watahomigi Point into Havasu, and thought that area should all be added to the Monument. We are agreed on two sections at Papago. Overall, his goal was to include both walls of Canyon, then the points. Dam debate is spurring this.

Tillotson now agreed on some, but wanted to hold off. He still desired the Monument deletions, and was only for additions if Forest Service agreed; not worth a fight. He was doubtful that NPS could block the tunnel project, and since our opposition would just arouse Arizona enmity, we should not try to block it. (As related in 11 Oct 2010 entry, Director Drury did block it in 1949.)

Olmsted also put in a rubber oar, saying that if the Kanab power plant is to be inside Park, the Park boundary should be re-drawn to exclude it. 

An aside: Do personalities matter? For 15 years, Mather pushed and pushed for his vision(s) of an appropriate Grand Canyon National Park. Field men, like Thompson, McKee & others, seem also aggressive. Tillotson sounded altogether more willing to stand pat, to yield to Park opponents, a stance esteemed consultant Olmsted embraced. Bryant, perhaps not with Mather's zeal, was ready to advance. Drury stands out among Directors before and after him, for his advocacy. But again, this was a time when "everyone" was constrained by the assumption that dams were triumphs of civilization, with necessity on their side. I am entertained by the fantasy of what NPS would have been like had the activists from its early period been in charge in the 1970's, after the dams' demise.

The debate ended up in the July 1945 boundary status report. The first addition listed comprised two sections south of Papago Point. (This was later renamed the Coconino addition, and, undergoing curious fluctuations, was added to the Park in 1975; see my 10 Sep 2010 entry.) Next came Long Mesa, west of Havasu Canyon. Finally, Kanab was desirable, but only when decision was made on the Monument and Recreation Area, when it would be best to eliminate 28 sections in Monument. The first two were approved higher up, but not the third; and anyway, this was all to await Reclamation action, a decision that was reaffirmed in Feb 1946.

The boundary fixes were reactivated in 1950 when the Kaibab Forest Supervisor, in a review of the Park's south boundary, recalling 1928 trouble with Buggeln, suggested that the Park take in Hull Tank. He suggested it also consider adding the small outlier of Mt Trumbull to the Monument. Bryant recounted the bit-by-bit story of Hull: it was in first Monument, then dropped from Park. Some added in 1927, then 1928, for road. He suggested taking it in, along with sections near Papago Point. Tillotson said ok on Hull, but did not want Trumbull--it had doubtful value, grazing exists, and we ought to be reducing Monument. He also argued against Bryant's addition near Havasu. So around they went, Bryant saying Havasu area was needed to handle increased tourism. Tillotson disagreed; we may never need to control entry. So they decided to ask just for Hull and Papago, Bryant arguing for a wider strip.  The Forest supervisor reported in April 1951. Grazing was poor; a few head. There was a little pine. So low value compared to importance for Park administration. The buildings were no longer needed, have gone down, maybe historical value. Change would bring a more logical boundary, blocked in 1920's because of Hull. Forest Supervisor did wonder about a water exchange. Several months later, there had been no action, and the Supervisor prodded. Regional Forester was supportive, but DC said to check with permittees. One said o.k., the other wanted to stay a year, which NPS approved. DC then said that since there would be legislation, is there anything we want? Supervisor said no, With Forest Service approval, Jul 1951, a bill was drafted. However, then NPS in DC decided to put off legislation, so the two agencies agreed for NPS to administer the Hull bit. Quiet settled in.

Sources: NPS DC archives, and GCNP archives. In NARA.

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