Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Complete Park: VI. A Survey of the Issues, 1972

Looking over the years 1966-72, I cannot help being amazed at how little was settled. Grand Canyon issues are always contentious; always those with different positions are willing to argue hard, and if they lose in one forum, appeal to another, which is why Congress has so often been the arbiter, and Arizona federal legislators key protagonists.
And why should the battle be short or truncated? Perseverance in the face of hostility is too often rewarded in our political system for anybody to give up. For instance, the Havasupai's land repatriation effort took almost a century. The motorboaters were behind for a decade, then gained a victory, and if they ever lose their political advantage, will have to confront a Wilderness river. Opposition to the Grand Canyon dams was so limited as to be a mere gesture for 40 years, and then in a decade, the dam dreams evaporated. Grazing has been a major shaper of Grand Canyon landscapes, physical and political, since the Civil War, and while today it hangs on here and there, it is barely anything but a tax dodge or a faint whoopee for the good old days. 

The boundary of Grand Canyon National Park has, too, been in contention since the the late XIXth century, 140 years, and not done yet. Even in the calm of the bureau-scape of the National Park Service, the arguments go on. For over two years, today's NPS drawers of maps have been unable to resolve their differences about the location of the boundary line legislated by the Grand Canyon National Park Enlargement Act of 1975. And as so many of my posts have shown, this is nothing new. Think of how fiercely Tillotson argued and defended his position vis-à-vis the old Monument for 20 years, and that position was contentious for 20 more beyond his tenure. 

So the backing-and-filling within NPS in 1966-72 is completely to be expected. It has been made somewhat harder to follow because Sup't Lovegren seemed able to agree to both expand and contract the Park with equanimity. Of course, we advocates of a complete Park did much the same thing as we sought to draw lines that described our concept in a context that allowed us to argue the values while bowing to the practicalities of legislation. As for the other participants, their efforts were just as subject to whims and vagaries. Overall, the details from late 1972 to early 1975, the span of the congressional bout, make for some good stories, without necessarily detracting from a major point the Grand Canyon's political history emphasizes: Building National Park legislation is more about attacking and weakening Park protections than realizing everybody's sweeping pro-Park rhetoric. The stock-growers showed that, but for this story, the most intense focus of concern became the question of taking land out of the National Park System (and the National Forest) and establishing a more adequate Havasuapai land base. I presented that story using Havasupai sources in July 2011 entries, and I will not repeat that material; an even fuller recounting is in Stephen Hirst's book, originally published as Life in a Narrow Place, the Havasupai of the Grand Canyon. Of course, what I will do in telling the story as we advocates of the Canyon experienced it, is include how we and the legislation were affected by the Havasupai effort. 

As we approach the fall of 1972, can we clarify and delineate the issues and positions of the various players, so we can follow the game? Well, no, but I want at least to offer a survey of what had been discussed. Lets start with a map:

The map shows the tender spots in the legislative history for the Park boundary. The letters refer to the segments I divided the present boundary up into when I discussed it in my July 2010 entries:
A: Starting point:  Lees Ferry - Navajo Bridge

Marble Canyon
B:  Below rim on east; Navajo land
P:  Buffer/easement above west and/or east rims

D: Coconino; how many acres

E: Havasupai lands; add to or subtract from Park
  Long Mesa & Hilltop, or even more, to Park
  Repatriation of plateau & canyon lands; Topocoba & Tenderfoot out of Park 

K: Monument plateau deletions

Western Canyon; going downstream, LMNRA lands into Park
How far downstream; damsite included or not;
G: To Grand Wash Cliffs is maximum
F:  River boundary
     along old Monument, extending from north bank how far;
     add riverbed (size);
     downstream of Monument.

Northern land boundary
 I:    limited by grazing allotments
 J:    addition of significant side canyons and plateau lands
        Shivwits, Parashant-Andrus, Whitmore,
 L:  Kanab Canyon
 M: Adjustments with Kaibab NF 

In short, just about every foot. However, as it turned out, the Park boundary was not the most controversial issue; repatriation of Havasupai land was. Other current resource management matters also seemed worthy of congressional consideration: Wilderness re-study and designation; management of river traffic; aircraft noise. As well, the Hualapai argued the case for language in the legislation that would be pro-dam.

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