Friday, June 28, 2013

Its time to lay down the line…or toe it.

My entry of 22 July 2012 argues that the western Navajo boundary abutting Grand Canyon National Park runs along the river banks at the water's edge between its crossing of the Little Colorado, to its confluence with the Colorado, and on up river to Navajo Bridge.

However, "knowledgeable sources assert", as a journalist might say, that the line is set back from the river, perhaps even ¼ mile from the left bank of the Colorado & the right bank of the Little Colorado. Indeed, some suggest that the Park and the National Park Service have some sort of jurisdiction right up to the rim and beyond. 

Now it is true that the official NPS map office does misleadingly show the boundary up on the rim, since Congress once proposed putting it there if the Navajo agreed, which they havent. Maybe that is why I keep hearing rumors that NPS does make claims for lands across the rivers. This disinformation has infected some defenders of the Park, and perhaps might even have reached GCNP Superintendent David Uberuaga. 

If so, then with the Escapade scheme of Phoenix developers slithering its way through the insides of Navajo Nation institutions, I suggest it is time for NPS to step up to the line, stake its claim -- or shut up about it. 

Here is a simple, cost-effective way for the Superintendent and any supporters of a ¼-mile or a rim boundary to back up their opinion, spelled out as a press release:

GCNP Superintendent to Inspect Site of Canyon Tramway Scheme

On July 4, the Superintendent will lead a delegation of Park officials, invited guests, and media down the Colorado River to its Confluence with the Little Colorado. They will disembark on the east side of the river in order to examine the locations that would be affected by the tramway  plans to deliver thousands of visitors to this unique and fragile beauty spot of the inner Grand Canyon.

The Superintendent and his Park Rangers will set five posts along the area with official NPS signs saying that the land within ¼ mille of the river is within the Grand Canyon National Park under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. Photographs will be taken. The Superintendent and selected guests will offer brief remarks on the environmental and scenic degradation the tramway scheme would bring if carried out. The Superintendent will also address ways of insuring that river and hiking use to this area of the Park will not degrade the environment.

Prior to the inspection, the Superintendent will hold a press conference at Desert View to explain the purpose of the trip to publicize and reinforce Park jurisdiction over a threatened part of the Grand Canyon. Navajo chapters neighboring the Park will be notified and invited.

At the completion of the trip, the Park will host a public gathering at the Canyon rim with the  theme "The Confluence Belongs to the People".

GCNP Boundary: B.(cont) NO Eastern Boundary

Posting the entry yesterday on the Park's river boundary in the western Canyon led me to think a bit more critically about exactly what legally defines the Park's boundary in the eastern Canyon. These points occurred to me:

1. The 1975 GCNP Enlargement Act abolished Marble Canyon National Monument.
2. The Act placed a "proposed" boundary subject to Navajo "approval" & "concurrence" on Marble's eastern rim and further south.
3. The Navajo have not so far concurred or approved. The 1975 Act, that is, made no change, no change whatsoever, in the Navajo western boundary. The easement concept is NOT in the 1975 Act. 
4. So: where is the Park boundary? At this point I am ready to argue that there is NO Park boundary (in the sense of a line) for the eastern, left-bank, side of the Grand Canyon from the LCR to Navajo Bridge.
   In other terms, the Park boundary is "undefined" or "undetermined".

5. However, the western Navajo boundary is describable, and the arguments in my 22 July 2012 post place it along the edge of the water/ on the east & north river banks. 
6. So we can say the Park includes the lands and waters of the Canyon over to the western Navajo boundary and by default that boundary becomes the eastern Park boundary or at least defines the extent of the "lands and waters" included in the Park. 

7. Some dispute that the western Navajo boundary is on the water/shore line, which is another way of saying that the boundary has not been taken to a final adjudication or negotiated to an agreement between the Navajo and the Fed.

8. Unless and until there is final resolution, we can only say with certainty that the Park includes the water surface of the rivers from Navajo Bridge to the point where the boundary crosses from the north side of the Little Colorado to run south. 
9. Since the Park did not include the land north and east of the confluence before the 1975 Act, and since the 1975 Act only proposed a boundary to include that land, the Park cannot have any jurisdiction of any kind on the area north and east of the confluence. 

10. In conclusion, we have an undefined eastern Park boundary and a disputed (by some) western Navajo boundary between Navajo Bridge and where the line goes south from the north bank of the Little Colorado. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

River boundary of Grand Canyon National Park

Back to one of my favorite topics-- the placement of the Grand Canyon National Park boundary as determined by PL 93-620, the 1975 Grand Canyon National Park Enlargement Act. In rooting around the Morris K. Udall papers stored in the University of Arizona Library, I  came across an 23 October 1975 letter from the DC office of the Interior Solicitor to Senator Goldwater. Reading it triggered the thought that it is a good idea to now and then repeat the truth, in the hope that people will believe it just as supposedly we believe lies that get repeated.

The first page of the letter just states the truth that the law allowed no change in any Indian boundary without concurrence. Here is the second page:
The last sentence of the first paragraph is another truth. It is also irrelevant. PL 93-620 did not attempt to alter the boundary of the Hualapai Indian Reservation as set by the Executive Order of 1883, which said that the boundary went north "to the Colorado River" and "along said river". 

What the 1975 Act did was to set the boundary of GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

PL93-620 S3. 27 Feb - 4 Mar 1974: The Best We Could Do, the Climax

Wed 27 Feb, my first visits in Washington were with a "friendly" Terry Bracy & Dale Pontius, followed by a working session on the boundary with Pontius and (again friendly) minority aide Clay Peters. Favorable changes were made on the Tapeats and Shivwits lines. In a review, Udall agreed. Discussion about his Havasupai amendment brought up the problem of implementation. 

The Hualapai had seen Udall, and when he would not agree to pro-dam changes, Steiger decided to offer a strong pro-dam amendment for them. (Because the Hualapai effort remained an outlier, if a vexing one, I will discuss its details in a separate post.) 

Parks Subcommittee Chairman Taylor and his counsel, Lee McIlvane, determined to keep the boundary decisions in the subcomittee. Based on lists of committee members, I was making the rounds. I made few notes, although I noted pro-Canyon Alan Steelman (R,Tex) would be glad to help in the mark-up. Otherwise, the coming event did not seem to be arousing any passions. As always, a visit to Steiger was friendly; he was still indifferent to the boundary changes we wanted; indeed he mentioned that he had heard from Game & Fish people, but waved it off. Then he made his pitch about more favorable dam language. I made clear a state-built dam was not any option, but he thought he had a 50-50 chance to get some change.