Wednesday, February 5, 2014

PL93-620 U2a. May 1974: On to the Interior Committee; The Havasupai Lock it Down

Udall's story, and ours will now get recombined, preparing for the Committee mark-up in July 1974. There will be some repetition of items mentioned  in my post "T3…Championing the Havasupai". My journal furnishes the main time line in this entry.

Udall and staff were receiving mail and petitioners. We were circulating among the congressional offices, talking up our viewpoint, and trying to stoke letters, while other lobbyists were certainly doing the same. The Hualapai were not only lobbying for their dam, but in April their governing body had passed a resolution to join with the Havasupai to request Congress to return to the latter in trust the 215 kac they had been using under their free permit (Res. 16-74, 4/24/74). Whatever the circumstances that had led to that action, it would have been over-shadowed several days later by Sparks' success working with presidential staff, when President Nixon landed at Phoenix' Sky Harbor and announced his support for the Havasupai reservation enlargement on 3 May. 
The official Presidential news release was straight-forward and not contentious. The Havasupai lived on two small, isolated tracts, and have patiently appealed for restoration of their rim lands. The enlargement would return traditional sites and life-sustaining springs. Also the land would relieve over-crowding and provide a better economic base. 
  Previously, the administration recommended a study, but consultation with the Secretaries involved, the BIA, the Arizona delegation, and the tribe led Nixon to conclude that the Havasupai had "waited long enough". Steiger will offer the Nixon plan, which 1) included up to 251 kac of park and forest, 2) directed NPS and the Havasupai to study jointly the area and develop a Master Plan, and 3) the Interior Secretary will have access to lands deleted from the Park. The plan, due in a year, would preserve scenic & environmental values. Meanwhile, no development would be permitted nor use be increased. In short, instant trust status for the Havasupai claim followed by a joint determination as to how to maintain under Havasupai ownership the original park and forest values.
  "I believe that transfer of park and forest lands into trust for the Havasupais would protect the integrity of the area. We must remember that the conservation record of the American Indian, stretching over the thousands of years he has inhabited this continent, is virtually unblemished."
 The river corridor is not included; it is under scrutiny for wilderness designation.

Otherwise quoting from the release, an AP story on 4 May added that Nixon discussed the land change as he flew to Arizona with the state delegation. Could that be cover language for, in this summer of Nixon's great travail, Goldwater putting the squeeze on? 

Back in Washington, since learning of Udall's shift in position, I had visited the offices of about 30 of the committee members. There was certainly no consensus or simple divided line-up, and awareness ranged widely. Some (Representative or an aide) just listened. Many Republicans would lean toward Steiger's views. There were both pro- and anti-Havasupai opinions already formed by some. Others noted that this was a conflict for liberal views: pro-Park, pro-Indian. The size of the transfer startled some; others we might have counted on would be of no help. A few discussed grazing. Overall, I could count few avid Park supporters, some anti-land transfer, probably a preponderance toward joining with either Steiger or Udall, and most not ready to say.

Throughout this period, we maintained our connections with Udall. The Club's Washington representative, Brock Evans, while argumentative in a conversation with Pontius, was able to cover most of the issues, as did McComb. We all agreed there were two legitimate interests, with strong advocacy to be expected. We pushed the idea of not taking any land below the rim, but that was too strong, although Udall was leaving the main gorge in the Park, which explained the difference of acreage between his and Nixon's proposals (175 vs. 251 kac). In a joint discussion with Sparks involved, he stressed burials & religious sites, springs, the Havasupai creation point, and the need for homesites up above. I kept pushing on keeping the Great Thumb in the Park. 

On 2 May, I learned that Udall would announce his plan the next day, just as Nixon was making his statement in Phoenix. So as May began, the major government elements --the administration and the legislative captains on this issue, Udall for the Democrats, Steiger for Republicans--had aligned themselves with the Havasupai cause of transferring land to them in trust. I would argue that these re-alignments were largely due to the lobbying expertise of Joe Sparks.
 Moreover, his success had been achieved without doing any violence to the gains pro-Canyon advocates had made in the subcommittee mark-up two months before. Some wise heads might have counseled us to be generous, take our winnings and let the Havasupai have theirs. Instead, the next several months displayed a fine example of conservationists as a hive of disturbed, active, and very angry bees. With how much sting, was the question.

The Club started off on 5 May with its reiterated opposition to the transfer through a Board of Directors resolution (discussed in previous posts, it reiterated opposition to taking land out of the Park, and suggested using alternative lands). There was a debate, actually, with a speaker for the Havasupai, but both staff and Arizona chapter representation argued against the land change. 

Both Nixon and Udall received newspaper play: "Mo wants land for Indian use" and "Havasupai Get Nixon Support" and "Plan seeks to give Indians 175,000 acres of parkland", the last two showing the gap between the administration (251 kac) and the Udall (175 kac) proposals. As the week of 6 May began, we checked with Interior friends, finding they had not accepted Sparks' plan as such, and with Pontius, who said Udall was still pondering what to do about the Great Thumb and the rim of the main gorge. We (John & I, both in DC) had prepared a memo for Mo making the case for the Thumb to stay in the Park, and followed up arguing to him directly. We got nowhere, i.e., an almost, but, but,… in the end, NO. I made a note that he had asked us if we would "be around". 

Oh yes, for a bit anyway. That day, we visited Seiberling, a friend, and drew up with him the Club alternative that would use only some forest and park land. Next, we chatted with the always affable Steiger, who was a bit fuzzy on details, insisting that his proposal was different. A visit with Ruppe found him cold. Foley, a fervent anti-transfer leader, discussed the committee list with us, mostly bad news. At the end of the day, my journal comment is "only vague hopes".

Still, we continued, checking wih the committee staff,  providiing Seiberling with a memo & map on our alternative, pitching to Owens, and again discussing with Pontius the Thumb and the rights involved. A few last checks raised my hopes not at all, and a visit with subcommittee chair Taylor was thoroughly discouraging, he simply saying to all our fine points, that he would support whatever Udall put forth. And that day, Senator Ted Kennedy put his pro-Havasupai position into a quite creative presentation for the "Congressional Record", calling for a 251 kac transfer.

As I flew home, in tragic mode, I asked my journal,
 "So who will defend Parks?
  The answer is, as it has been, no-one." 
Yet, even so, I was updating my to-do list. 

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