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.  

In my visit the next day to Senate Interior staff chief Jerry Verkler, I fussed about the dam language, but he was non-committal. And he threw out the idea that it might be possible for a House-passed bill to be accepted by the Senate. (This is just the kind of speculation and idle chit-chat that makes Washington work so frustrating. Hopes up. Hopes down.) Back on the House side, Peters told me Steiger was actively seeking proxies, so I talked to McComb and Alderson, and the latter went about getting an organization telegram to committee members. I also pushed Udall, and here arose a procedural matter; Mo was not on the Parks subcommittee, so he had asked Lloyd Meeds (D,Wash.) & Jonathan Bingham (D,NY) to do his amendments. 

I worked on letters and explanations of the amendments pro and con. For the Park, Udall would argue that his amendments would result in a Park "worthy" of the Canyon, which would have "wide conservationist support". He opposed reopening the "old, bitter controversy over building dams". "We fought that fight", and the result was aimed at avoiding future fruitless controversy.  Senator Goldwater included a provision preserving the status quo, and Udall opposed any attempt to alter it. He asked for support, and proxies where needed to Meeds. 
The amendments were summarized as follows: 
Section 3, the boundary, would provide Park status for the whole river with unified management, including the "controversial" dam site, and add major side canyons and the Shivwits plateau, "a spectacular viewing platform for the western Canyon". The additions amounted to 230 kac, giving a Park of 1,497,439 ac.
Section 11 was new, and would provide for a uniform, two-year, study of the enlarged Park for a Grand Canyon Wilderness. (Short-sightedly, it only called for the Secretary to report to the President in two years, and left out mandating the crucial step of the President reporting to Congress.)
Section 2 was altered so the definition of the Canyon started it at the "mouth of the Paria".
Section 3 provided for exchange with State lands.
Section 10 was to deal with the "terribly difficult" Havasupai situation. The amendment directed agencies to "move swiftly" to help and "to allow them to use 100,000 acres" now under Park and Forest jurisdiction. Here is its text:
So help for the Havasupai had gone from an outright enlargement in the Goldwater proposal, to the administration idea passed by the Senate for a study, to putting in place a plan to use 100 kac. Note also the addition of "compatibility" language. 

I wrote out only a couple of the arguments for this "Udall-Steiger compromise": a study was not good enough, but actually transferring land would lead to many tribes re-asserting land claims and  there had been no real discussion of land transfer. This proposal ordered a plan "to positively give Havasuapi use of land". The Havasupai would have leverage on the agencies. 

This material was circulated to the Parks Subcommittee members. On Friday, 1 March, I had a long talk with Meeds, who would be carrying the amendments for Udall. He was "o.k. on everything". We covered the dam arguments at length. Then we had a discussion on what I called the "Havasupai disaster", held with a pro-Havasupai staffer. We covered all the usual points, but Meeds "couldnt take it", could not offer an outright transfer, so he would offer his own amendment to direct Secretarial selection in one year of 100 kac of federal land "within reasonably close proximity" to add to the reservation. The lands were to be valuable for grazing and economic subsistence. The amendment said nothing about compatibility with the Park.
A conversation with Republican staffer Peters brought out his difficult position. (He had been hired by pro-conservation senior member John Saylor, who had died a few months earlier, and non-environmentalist Steiger was more active here). Steiger had decided he was not happy about the Havasupai language for a plan; it was not as he had agreed. Further, he was going to push the dam, although he still had no problem with the boundaries, and would ignore the wilderness study. He did work to get some proxies, finding that members had heard from conservationists. In the event, there were only a couple of proxies obtained by either side. 

The Parks Subcommittee, under Chairman Roy Taylor (D,NC), met to mark up Senate-passed S. 1296 on Monday, 4 March. The congressmen sat around a raised U-shaped table, Taylor in the middle facing the audience in the back half of the room, us sitting in chairs. That there was an audience at a mark-up was, I believe, a recent innovation.

Meeds offered the Udall amendments. Taylor asked if the first, section 2, concerned the boundary, which it did, but Meed messed up the explanation and then tried to go to his Havasupai amendment. Udall, present, though not as a subcommittee member, corrected him, so he went back to the next in order, the state exchange. The wilderness study was next, called a standard item, and these items were all approved without discussion. The Udall amendments were agreed to by voice vote with one "no". I have listed 15 present.

Meeds now brought up his proposal for a 100 kac selection. The addition would be on the plateau, for winter use. He said the land "probably" would not be from the Park. Bingham now was ready to offer Udall's amendment, but Udall indicated, with a finger-wag, that a Steiger amendment was to be offered first. Jon Seiberling (D,Ohio) wondered where the Udall amendment was, and Bingham said he would offer it. Joe Skubitz (R,Kan) wanted to know which amendments transferred title. Martin now offered the Steiger substitute, using the language of the original bill, transferring 169 kac. At this point (and please note, the positive pro-Park aspects had been dealt with almost profunctorily in a few minutes), Taylor departed from the usual procedure to set forth the two controversies--the Havasupai and the dam--and allowed Udall and Steiger to talk five minutes on each. 

Steiger went first, noting that his was a compromise on the Havasupai; the original had called for a 230 kac addition. But there were concerns from environmentalists and cattlemen. This would be the only opportunity for the Havasupai to get some land, and although Steiger had originally agreed with Udall, he believed that without an actual transfer of title, the Havasupai would not be eligible for federal financial help for agriculture. 
  Udall's response was for a vote on conscience; he preferred his, because while he was  sympathetic to the Havasupai, both Steiger's and Meeds' transfers would take land out of the Park. Bingham asked if the protections from the Senate bill, sections b & c, --they were in  Steiger's-- were also in Meeds. At this point, Udall came over to ask me why they were not in his, and I told him they were not needed since his did not transfer land. Sebelius (R,Kan) then pointed out the land had been in the Forest since 1893 and the Havasupai received $1.24 million, which Udall confirmed, allowing Sebelius to say this would lead to all the tribes showing up. 
  Meeds now added the b & c protections (they had to do with water & transport systems being restricted). However, Seiberling argued that the Havasupai would be autonomous and could erect a factory or clear-cut timber. Steelman wanted to know if b & c would protect against rim development. Taylor noted it was a beautiful area but economically depressed, but he agreed with Sebelius on the dangerous precedent for claims. Meeds mentioned grazing. Steiger argued these lands were "in excess of" the claims settlement, and emphasized the problem with funds not being available on non-reservation land. Seiberling responded by suggesting funding language be added, and Udall suggested his proposal covered that. After repetitions, the Meeds amendment was not agreed to and the Udall proposal offered by Bingham in lieu of it was adopted. 

Sebelius now offered Steiger's amendment that would have allowed the State of Arizona to seek a federal license to build a "low" Hualapai dam. Steiger argued the proposal was both significant and controversial. It would lift the existing moratorium on federal action. At some point in his argument, me mentioned that his son was a commercial river guide, and Meeds wondered, to general laughter, if that meant that Steiger didnt give a damn for his son? When asked, Steiger agreed it would be in the Park. A. Kazen (D,Tex) wanted to get the project moving, saying there would be no damage to the Canyon. Steiger used an argument Udall had seven years before, that the reservoir would be like a glass of water in the corner of a room. (Some glass! Some room!) Taylor said this was a water/power question. When R. Kastenmeier (D,Wisc) pointed out a dam was antithetical to the Park, Udall said, "Lets defeat the amendment on its merits." The idea showed up in 1919 and we buried it in the 1960's; lets not break faith with that compromise. The idea in 1968 was to leave any dam up to a direct authorization by Congress. Meeds now argued strongly about the flooding verbiage, saying the dam idea was wrong in this bill: "let the gentleman bring it up where it belongs". Taylor added the amendment would make the tail bigger than the dog. When Skubitz asked if the bill put the dam into the Park, Steiger pushed that idea, noting the further barriers of Park and Wilderness, and argued instead the barriers should be reduced. (My notes indicate that I was having a hard time keeping quiet during this 1960's redux.) After Steiger restatements, the amendment was voted down. 
  The question of a quorum was raised, satisfied, and Meeds moved to report the bill as amended to the full Interior Committee. Here, in NPS maps, is the changed boundary (sorry about the bad join at west Kanab):

And here, for comparison, is what had come from the Senate:

I notified people back home of the wonderful news, and thanked some of the key congressmen. In talking with GCNP superintendent Stitt, I mentioned that the phrase about the boundary along the Hualapai reservation being subject to their concurrence had been dropped, as we had wished. 

Our work of the past four months to achieve a Canyon-worthy bill had been successful. We had pushed our effort to the highest peak it was to reach. Even had the bill been approved as it stood on 4 Mar 1974, it would have been a product of big compromises, but at least it was a substantial achievement in the effort to establish a Park that better presented the Canyon to the public, and looked toward its further protection, specifically as Wilderness. The entire Canyon was formally recognized; the length of the river from the Paria to the Grand Wash Cliffs was under the single jurisdiction of the Park. All we had to do now was protect these gains and work to see the legislation through the Committee, the House, and obtain Senate approval, and a Presidential signature. That's all.

My main source for my version of the highly charged, event-filled months (March & April) is, as it has been in most of this narrative, the journal I kept at the time. There are also documents, maps, etc. that I have saved. In order to keep up the momentum, I am posting this partial entry now. However, I am going to check the Udall papers, and they may provide more details, though my previous looks through them were not fruitful. If so, then this post may be re-published.

At times, I am puzzled by what the journal tells me. For instance, I thought for sure that John McComb & I were both in DC at mark-up time, yet the journal seems to follow only me. Certainly, others were helping at this time, e.g. George Alderson. The name Harriet Hunt appears as a co-worker, but without any details. Other papers have lists of names of contacts, but again without content. Without the journal, this account would have been impossible; even with it, there are many gaps in what shaped the outcome.

 n the posts that follow this one, the Havasupai effort figures large, and the sources available to me are meagre. I had hoped to talk with their leading lobbyist, Joe Sparks, and I am sure that there were files full of material at organizations involved in helping them. Hirst's book is a source, of course, but it is not detailed at the level of this history. 

Always, we must keep in mind, that when I record in my journal what someone tells me, it can be what they think I want to hear, what they think they know (but dont), what makes them seem knowledgeable, etc. So as we set off on this bumpy journey of spring 1974, be warned, be skeptical.

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