Wednesday, May 22, 2013

PL93-620 S1. Jan-Mar 1974: The Best We Could Do, part 1

To start the new year, I felt the need to write McComb's boss, Club Executive Director McCloskey, about my strong hopes for satisfying action on the Grand Canyon, due in large part to "John's efforts & expertise", and "your own solid backing … substantial financial aid from the Club as well as psychological backing in what has not always been a pleasant campaign." His reply was gracious to me, but most important expressed his "strongest confidence in John's judgement on (the Havasupai) matter."

For us, McComb & I, Udall & his aides, the main consideration in the House remained how to adjust the proposed Park boundary on the Canyon's north side to better approximate the idea of a "complete" Park, something we reaffirmed as Congress convened in January when Udall aide Dale Pontius told me on the 16th he was waiting for Udall to return and for NPS to send a revised map. We would need to check it for grazing impact. The Wilderness study provision seemed ok, but not a ban on aircraft impact. He himself planned to visit Arizona in a couple of weeks. We discussed the idea of authorizing a purchase of private land for the Havasupai, and noted that Hualapai lobbyists were around. Out here, Udall had told McComb he was interested in going on a trip in February, maybe with others involved. McComb resolved to go to Washington. However, a Udall visit fizzled, and Pontius reaffirmed he was coming at the beginning of February.

The minority's aide, Clay Peters, was checking with Interior, where the view seemed to be that  the Superintendent's o.k. would dominate. The map was still not done, but there seemed to be no problems, since McComb said the Lake Mead Sup't had changed his mind on the lower river boundary, and was hopeful he could get Udall's assent by February. 

This was a time of keeping in touch, trying to be sure there were no questions unanswered. We were checking around on agreeement, including on a block of Havasupai proposals. Indeed, the idea of private land acquisition quietly disappeared. The possibility of a field trip on the additions appeared more likely -- it could include Forest Service, since they would be key on a Kanab addition. McComb brought up the Zone of Influence again, along with other alternatives if additions were turned down. The extent of Steiger's interest was debated; Udall had talked to him, since he did not want an open fight. Perhaps Sam could offer his amendments for a vote, which he would lose. 

One statement of why we were hopeful was a 25 Jan article in the university paper in Tucson, in which Pontius was quoted: "Udall will probably propose the additions of 250,000 acres" as urged by the Sierra Club to include Whitmore Wash, Parashont-Andrus Canyon, upper Kanab, the Shivwits Pleateau, the lower 40 river miles, with the Park to start at Lees Ferry". The article noted three difficulties -- from dam proponents, loggers, and the Havasupai. On the last, Udall would seek a compromise guaranteeing land or a one-year study. 

I did some more checking on a field trip with Pontius; no DC Interior official could come. By the 30th, Pontius sounded set on the trip. This was the time that we learned that Udall, Steiger, and Goldwater had talked and all seemed content to reaffirm Havasupai rights (with no more land) and not to make a fuss about our Park additions. There could be a Parks Subcommittee vote in a month. 

Stitt set up a fly-over with Forest Supervisor Pfefferle and Pontius, McComb and me, at 9 a.m. on 2 Feb, a Saturday. John & I picked Pontius up and drove to the Canyon, where the five of us flew from the airport over to the Kanab Canyon area, and then out to the west over Whitmore, Parashant-Andrus, and the Shivwits Plateau. Im sure I remember that we did a fair amount of banking and swooping, all of which contributed (to me getting woozy, but more important) to the conviction of willing viewers that the areas were both spectacular in themselves and integral parts of the Canyon. It was spectacular verification that the little colored blobs on the maps represented landscape that deserved and needed to be recognized. If only we could have started out the entire process in late 1972 with such a trip that involved all the principals -- Goldwater, Udall, et al. As a reminder, here is the map NPS had prepared prior to our trip based on township boundaries to include the lands we considered desirable:

(When we saw it, we realized that the three notations for the boundary along the lower river did not fit the concept of unifying river administration. From the left, the first says "NOTE Bureau of Reclamation withdrawal 300 ft. above high water to river 238.5" referring to the reservoir intrusion. But we wanted even the reservoir stretch down to the Grand Wash Cliffs to be under GCNP jurisdiction, even though NPS did not. The second note, "BOUNDARY south bank of the Colorado River between river mile 164.8 to 238.5", would have been acceptable , except that the third note read "BOUNDARY on the SOUTH BANK of the RIVER Subject to concurrence of Hualapai Tribe). However, the Hualapai boundary was already set along the river bank and therefore the Tribe's concurrence was not necessary. Indeed, this language seemed to imply acceptance of the Hualapai claim to the middle of the river, which was unsubstantiated and only a claim. These three items would need to be changed, we felt.)

Stitt also gave us a ground tour of the Village that afternoon. He expressed his liking of the area to be added from Lake Mead up to the private land on the north, and in our discussions, we settled on using the Paria River junction as the Park start rather than Lees Ferry. The lack of private land within the National Forest was stressed. Stitt brought up a recent count of 200 aircraft/ day to emphsize the need to do something about the noise. We went by the Havasupai area at Grand Canyon Village. Supervisor Pfefferle reported on a recent meeting with the Havasupai about improvements and getting started on a study. The two agency officials talked about various aspects of the Havasupai--cattle-raising, an electric transmission line, house-building. They said that one tribal chairman had accepted the idea of a land trade, but was then thrown out. There was a fair amount of talk about the request by Tusayan commercial interests for Park water. It was a hot topic, and Stitt was feeling pressured (among other items, one of the owners lived in Washington state, and was in touch with the office of Senate Interior Committee chair Jackson).The idea of a joint visitor center at Jacobs Lake came up. (Years later, the Forest Service did one on their own.) 

Seeking to strengthen our points, I wrote in mid-February to Udall, with praise for Pontius' participation, opening the chance to discuss matters that had been "muted". Our major point was that the Canyon needed a unified administration over the land as well as the river. For instance, LMNRA had no interest in wilderness designation, or in coordinating such with GCNP -- the two units were in different NPS regions. Moreover:
1. Conflicting rules for river travel are undesirable; there is no regulation of up-coming motor boats, for instance. The last 40 miles are, after all, in the Canyon, and of little interest for open-water sport. 
2. The side canyons to be added are wilderness, but LMNRA has no presence in the area, so there is a lack of management as well as in these areas that deserve Park status. 
3. The top of the Shivwits is backcountry and again neglected by LMNRA. It offers "a tremendous opportunity for spectacular views well off the paved track." There will be no coordinated interpretation or balanced planning with a split jurisdiction.* Moreover, there is a wealth of archeological sites that receive no integration with other parts of the Canyon's archeology.
I concluded that it was clear that the Park Service's own misclassification was an argument for  a more complete extension of the Park.

Pontius told us on the 11th he was looking for a date for marking up the bill in the Parks Subcommittee, and told us that Udall was pleased about the plane trip and subsequent discussions. A most important item was that the trip had shown that a boundary following the rim for the additions was most desirable, so a new map had been requested. For it, Pontius was in favor of adding the main part of the Shivwits, with Andrus, Parashant, and Kanab Canyons. He was not convinced about adding the forested rim above the Tapeats drainage. We feared its logging; he thought it would look inappropriate and cause trouble with the Forest Service. I suggested writing something in the report. He brought up a wilderness designation for the Forest lands, and I stressed Kanab's priority for the Park.** We agreed that the mouth of the Paria was the correct starting point. However, Udall was not sure about the lower 40 miles, and would talk with NPS' Curry.

So I called Curry, to "report on our trip", no doubt saying I was sorry he was not on it. He stressed the need for "professional judgment", and I was able to assure him that both Stitt and Pfefferle had offered theirs. I then explained our position on the lower river; he listened and suggested writing to the Director, and he would then discuss it with the appropriate DC chiefs.

In our joint letter to Director Walker, McComb & I emphasized the geographic and environmental unity of the Canyon all the way down to the Grand Wash Cliffs. The administration position of excluding the lower 40 river miles from the Park contravenes this unity, and should be changed. 
1. The Canyon is a unity, even with the reservoir intrusion, and the public should be helped to see that.
2. Different rules, allowing up-river motor traffic in the tortuous mud-flat dotted lower end, is inconsistent. This was emphasized by the NPS statement last week that "it would be extremely difficult to coordinate the wilderness proposals between the two areas". We urge that NPS support the management unity for the Grand Canyon that befits its natural unity.

We were now dealing with a novel situation -- all the involved people were well-disposed toward positive Canyon action. The plane trip was not then so much a tipping point; it was symbolic as an act of confirmation for and commitment to further expansion: a laying on of hands. Continuing to lobby and to work on the details would now be a cementing in the new direction of the legislation. 

*And this situation continues, further complicated by the LMNRA-BLM Grand Canyon - Parashant National Monument designation. This sad situation robs the visitor of the benefits that unified administration of the Canyon's north side under GCNP would bring for a fuller understanding as well as more seamless trip planning. As the history of the 1930's and '40's I have related shows, this inappropriate splitting up of jurisdiction over the Canyon's land stems from the hope back then of building Bridge Canyon dam with an associated Recreation Area. That nightmare is dead; its artifact of disunited Canyon designation should be ended, too, by including the Canyon part of the Grand Canyon - Parashant National Monument within the National Park. 

**I still think the present truncation of Kanab is wrong. 

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