Tuesday, May 27, 2014

PL93-620 W2. Sep-Oct 1974: Troubles, Uncertainties, Waiting

[ General comment: A lot of what follows is just so much hot air; people gassing to pass the time until a definitive step was taken. Like much of DC chat; it needs now, and at the time, to have a lot of salt shaken on it. Entertainment? Trying to prove worth? So after I clear this away, I will take up the content of the Committee Report in a separate entry. I will then go on to summarize the hunter/AG&F effort. Then finally, we get to the floor debate of 10 Oct.]

If the government was trying to prove it could not help the Havasupai, then information I picked up supported that notion: grazing was limited by the cost of pumping water. They could only sell their cattle cheap. There was no forthcoming appropriation for an electric line. Work on improving Hilltop wasnt done because there was no initiative. The attitude toward helicopters and any tramway was adamantly negative. 

The Club's McCloskey reported to Evans that he had talked with Congressman Taylor, who suggested Udall was getting cold feet, and would not fight very hard if we pushed further amendments, maybe even being willing to shrink the transfer boundary. Hunt's office visits in DC were finding less & less sympathy in the Senate. Pontius was meanwhile trying to be soothing about the land use plan and the report.

Meanwhile, a mini-crisis blew up when Pontius called me about Udall being confronted by a cattleman who claimed his land was being taken by the expanded Park. This unpleasant revelation was not easier to take because McComb & I had tried to be sure that this had not happened; only federal (or state) land was being added. However, when I made a further check, I did find a private tract at the north end of our Kanab addition, at the junction with Snake Gulch. This was upsetting -- it looked like we were either trying to fool somebody or incompetent (important to remember that McComb had been supplying acreage figures and boundary lines to Udall et al. throughout the process since there was no other quick-response, reliable source). I tried to reach Udall to make amends, but was not successful. 
When McComb came back into town (17 Sep), I complained; he described his confrontation in Utah with ranchers. He had also heard the rumor (second-hand) that Udall was thinking about Havasupai boundary changes. He claimed he had some positive news about support. A Parks supporter decided to float the idea of allowing hunting in the Park.

Hunt, keeping track in DC, said Taylor would come to the Rules Committee, and Foley would ask that the bill be referred to the Agriculture Committee. There was heavy lobbying by the Havasupai side. (All of this over a procedural step that, it seemed to me, was usually pro forma.) 

By the 23rd, when McComb asked Udall if maybe Pontius had over-reacted, Udall said he was the one who over-reacted, since the grazing matter did not really worry him. However, he went on, he was getting, and expected more, pressure from the hunters. (See separate entry.) He felt confident about having support on the floor of the House, but not in any conference. He (we) may have to give a little. When McComb emphasized the Club opposition to any bill with the "Havasupai gift", Udall said he understood that position, and was "privately" committed to Taylor to take more out, say on the Great Thumb, maybe several miles back from the rim. 

Checking back with Pontius, I found him "surprised" at the idea of pulling back several miles. Of course, McComb had to say the Club would not support any transfer, but wanted Pontius to do what he could; the latter was sympathetic to the kind of proposals I had made earlier. He did not think a change could be made in House debate; it would have to be in conference. He worried about Steiger's dam and wondered if he might try to attack the Park additions. He was also complaining about the lateness of the report. This led to speculation about when to push for action, since otherwise, all of this was just go-nowhere back-&-forth; there was clearly not going to be any change; we were being played. Could there be an effort to avoid a conference, and just get the Senate to accept a House-passed bill?

Another ally, Seiberling, had not heard about any compromises by Udall. Foley, meanwhile, had written dissenting views for the Committee Report -- which I approved of. He was cool to the "compromise" idea of letting a transfer go through if there were no Canyon in it, "just" plateau. He was also dubious about trying to use the Rules Committee to make substantive arguments. 

At the end of September, Hunt heard a rumor that the bill might be considered under a suspension of rules, which some thought might make it easier to defeat the whole bill. But like so many, that rumor was quickly popped by more knowledgeable people. Indeed, Taylor had written objecting to using that route; he wanted full debate & the chance to amend. There was still uncertainty as to when the Rules Committee would consider it. We hoped that Foley & Taylor would speak at the Rules session to get the sense of controversy across. Meanwhile, the Report was printed, and Dear Colleagues letters were being prepared for distribution just before the vote. 

Pontius reported that the hunters and cattlegrowers had indicated they were upset over the Havasupai transfer -- a little late, we thought, though they had talked to Udall earlier. An anti-transfer newsletter now picked up on the state-prepared development plan, mildly asking "Would Indians Develop Grand Canyon?"

McComb & I discussed what kind of compromise boundary change would be worth pushing for. Looking back, I can only suppose that we wanted to keep as much Park as we could, or maybe wanted to discomfit the pro-transfer lobbyists. So I wrote Udall and Taylor on 25 Sep about the most likely areas to be part of a compromise, noting that the latter had taken note and approved of discussions on the proper NPS-Havasupai balance on lands. I recalled that earlier I had written about the Great Thumb, Mooney & Beaver Falls, and the side canyons of Beaver and Little Coyote. To this list of desirables, I now added Tenderfoot Plateau within the old Monument for potential archeological and visitor access, and upper Cataract. I conceded plateau area back from the rim, and Long Mesa and going over to the Topacoba access route. Had there ever actually been any dickering over areas to be added, my suggestions comprised a beginning position. However, there never was, though I noted that Sparks & I had talked some months before, but only about the main gorge. In any case, these were only for consideration in decision-making; I still believed any transfer was a terribly destructive idea. I was also doodling around on other no-hope approaches to changing the situation. For more cover, I sent a note to Hunt, saying this was my own effort, and didnt in any way imply the Club is softening. [Which was certainly true, although what then did I have to offer?]
  Anyway, Udall quickly wrote back to say he would support the bill on the House floor as reported, but there might be some changes in Conference, where he would "remain flexible". He also added he had received "a good number of letters" from environmentalists supporting the transfer, and he hoped more would recognize its necessity.

In the heat, Goldwater was heard from, having written defending the transfer as being away from the rim and only available for religious and grazing purposes. He would not support any tram, and if the House bill contained any amendments "detrimental to the Park" (sic), he would vote against it. He complained that this was the most misinformation-laden legislation he had known, with people against it who should be supporting it. He even suggested that if not passed, the danger from a dam would be greater.  
  The intensity of the debate was shown locally in exchanges of view in the Arizona Daily Star, including a pro-Havasupai editorial, and a McComb response; of course the fat files of letters in the Udall archives are an even better index. Indeed, Udall was in the position of being able to claim he was in the right place, since there were such strongly argued missives coming at him from all directions. 

Then, a few days later all the fogginess was cleared away by a lightning-strike scheduling on 8 [one of my notes says 4] Oct by the Rules Committee. It took all of five minutes, and there were no big presentations -- how revolting, opined Hunt, after all that talk. According to the Arizona Republic, Taylor started off, asking for a one-hour long debate open for any amendments, which was granted. He anticipated efforts against the Havasupai transfer and for the dam. Udall offered a statement, and said he had worked on this jointly with Goldwater. Neither Steiger nor the anti-transfer Representatives appeared. The floor debate was set for Oct 10, just before the House recess from 11 Oct to 12 Nov. Hunt claimed the Havasupai lobbyists had done "a lot of pushing" of the House leadership to get a rule. 
  Udall's statement was a pick-&-choose summary of the legislative history, stressing the antiquity of Park proposals. He talked of the Committee's "constructive" changes: adding 230 kac "Park quality" lands to the Park to provide Park protection from "rim to river". He waved off hunter-rancher concern, since there would be a study of Park suitability for some areas. He then spent several pages defending the Havasupai transfer, first rejecting the precedent arguments, then noting both opposition and support by conservationists "in my own state and across the country." He stressed the limited uses and the land-use plan, in the development of which NPS and "interested citizens" will be involved. He cited the chairman of the Indian Affairs Subcommittee for doubting the move would be a threat to the Indian Claims process. And anyway, Park & Forest boundaries have been changed many times by Congress. We should not lose sight that 1.4 million acres of the Grand Canyon will be provided with the best possible protection. 

With the technical steps taken, the floor debate was now the target of preparations. I will take that story up after two other entries, the first on the content of the Committee Report and the second on the hunters' activity and opinions. 

Sources: I rely on my journal and collected matter in my files, including newspaper reports and lobbying materials.

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