Sunday, February 17, 2013

PL93-620 Q. Nov-Dec 1973: Turning Our Way

After the hearing, with our back-home group intact, we visited with Udall, speaking both as Canyon advocates and constituents. His first tack was that we should consult with his principal aide Bracy. Knowing already how Bracy reacted to our desire to make the bill more Canyon-friendly, McComb objected on the ground that Bracy was too political, which Udall correctly interpreted as meaning we thought Bracy was overprotective of Udall. His value was to indicate problems; Udall would then make decisions on what course to take. So we should be giving him options, and he could choose what to offer and what someone else may have to handle. Rodack assured him we would push our large park ideas, and Udall went so far as to offer this course: after discussion with Bracy he would talk to friendly Representatives like Ruppe, Mink, Seiberling, Kastenmeier, O'Hara, Dellenback. Then he would be in Tucson for the holidays. He offered the thoughts that Goldwater would not run again and that Steiger was erratic. 

We visited Steiger, and listened to the strong moral, human-value case he made for the Havasupai claims. The Forest Service was an obstacle, he opined, but would be run down by the Goldwater "train". And even though he had heard from cattlemen, and would be alone in the committee, he was going to be tough fighting for the Havasupai, and thought we would lose politically. He was clear that the Park was the obstacle. The land would be protected if repatriated to the Havasupai; there would not be any "hot dog stands". McComb suggested it was a matter of management, but Steiger scoffed at the notion that we would jeopardize the bill because of the Havasupai issue.

After some had made their planes, others of us spent the next day visiting committee members' offices. Representative Tom Foley remained a steady opponent of repatriating the lands to the Havasupai. There were 13 other visits, some perfunctory hellos, others with sharp questions. We found good friends, and also more who were anti-transfer. In only a couple of offices did we get to talk only to an aide. Overall, the Havasupai were the principal issue, and that was true in our talks with committee staff as well. 

Though relating them will not complicate this story, administrative matters did take up NPS and our time, primarily the river management issue, with meetings continuing. Master planning and Village development work were also on-going, and there was continuing pressure from the Tusayan development south of the Park to get access to water from the Park, which neither the state nor NPS were willing to allow. The Grand Canyon's political landscape is always a busy place.

The week after the hearings, McComb had a first conversation with Dale Pontius, a staffer hired by Udall for the Environment subcommittee. (The Parks subcommittee, chaired by Taylor, had as its principal counsel Lee McIlvane, of whom more later.) Pontius was now to be Udall's work-horse for the Canyon legislation. John found him more open to our effort than Bracy. In particular, he had been an Air Force pilot, one of those who had flown his jet down through the Canyon. He thought a ban on flights below the rim was o.k. They also discussed the Havasupai issue. 

McComb met with Bracy and then Pontius on the details of our additions.
At first, there was fussing about the acreage, but the talk turned positive once everybody was looking at the maps John brought. Here is what we had drawn to shown the relationship between the Park (big purple) as passed by the Senate, and the rim.

The maximum we had proposed, shown on the following map, however, went beyond Udall's aides' ideas of what was possible. However, it provided the necessary extreme so that discussion could settle just how much would protect the rim lands.

Crucially, they did see that bringing the boundary to the rim was logical. More in the Kanab area also was not hopeless. They were not so clear as to our ambition to include the Lake Mead backwater as part of our concept of a more complete Park. The question was how to bring the legal-line boundary proposal in closer to the rim, which is what they tried to do with the red lines. With tentative agreement, the next step was for them to carry these mostly sensible ideas to Udall. They thought it might be necessary to introduce a clean bill. 

On 5 December, we heard from Pontius that he and Bracy had talked with Udall, who decided to work on the course of amending the Senate-passed bill to go up to the rim. We were told it was important for us to consult with Interior and NPS about our desired changes, to blunt any opposition from what should be a friendly source.

Bracy also brought up his worries about Goldwater. McComb opined that the Senator just wanted a bill. He did warn about Emerson's hostility. Real as that was, Emerson had attended the House hearing, and according to the Goldwater files, did not record any reaction to the testimony. Another help was that the friendly Republican staffer, Clay Peters, on the Parks subcommittee would be kept on after Saylor's death. 
When we checked with Interior official R. Curry, he told us that they were agreeable to what Udall was thinking. Also good news was that NPS official Hulett, who had made the hearing difficult for our viewpoint, had moved on to another agency. I followed up in a conversation with Stitt, telling him Udall was checking on our ideas with NPS. When Stitt worried about Hulett's reaction as expressed in the hearing, I was able to tell him Hulett was gone. 

A talk with the Lake Mead superintendent was disappointing. He was obdurate that the Sanup Plateau ( the mid-level bench below the Shivwits Plateau) was not suitable for either Park or Wilderness. Game & Fish had put a couple of vehicle tracks on it illegally; this and the grazing showed it was not pristine. Furthermore, LMNRA had no relations with the Hualapai, who had motorboat use up to Granite Park, but he still wanted the LMNRA boundary to go up 300' up from the reservoir maximum. We chose to ignore his views.

On 26 December, Pontius requested a map from NPS embodying the ideas we had agreed on. The Denver Service Center responded on 30 January, though of course, this did not mean NPS approved officially. Moreover, not everything on the map corresponded to what we wanted, e.g., the boundary being fixed on the south bank from mile 164.8. Such "details" would occupy our attention more intenstively as the time came for consideration by the Parks subcommittee. In any case, the reality of the map was a big step in our direction.

At this point, Pontius told us they were feeling good about the prospects of a more expansive Park; Udall now being prepared to go as far as he could get away with, though he was alert to the hunting & grazing questions. It was well that we could start off 1974 with this good news, which contrasted so with the concurrent heating up of the offensive by the Havasupai to get a change in Sierra Club policy, a topic that requires discussion on its own.

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