Thursday, June 5, 2014

PL93-620 W4. Aug-Oct 1974: The Real Threat -- Hunters on the Warpath


The long story of hunter-love for the Kaibab Plateau has its place here insofar as it contributes to knee-jerk opposition to anything that might possibly be construed as a threat to their freedom to hunt there -- and knee-jerk distaste for Grand Canyon National Park's (occupying the southern end of the Plateau) being closed to hunting. Before picking up the story in Aug 1974, it may be worthwhile to add some background. 


The hunting alignment included the Arizona Game & Fish Department (AG&F), and its boss, Bob Jantzen, advised by a citizen Wildlife Commission; the Arizona Wildlife Federation (AWF, aka Arizona Game Protection Association) -- the state affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation -- was the organization of hunter individuals & clubs conducting oversight, lobbying, and influence on state hunting policy & practice; various media types, "outdoor" columnists & reporters, but especially Goldwater's friend, Ben Avery of the Arizona Republic of Phoenix; and a bit back in the shade, the National Forest Service (hunting being one of its multiple uses) cooperating locally, regionally, and in DC, with hunters as with any other users. No doubt my view here is too simple, but I hope it will help suggest the resources that could be deployed by hunter (and I will use this term to generically cover the various opponents) opinion & organization as it figured in Grand Canyon's legislative end game.

As summarized in my 1 Apr 2014 post, "PL93-620 U2c, Jun 1974: Hunters Awake", McComb and I had tried to mollify that opposition back in Jan 1973 when we were discussing with various agencies a possible compromise "Arizona" bill that Goldwater could introduce. The Zone of Influence that we suggested, which would have allowed hunting, was part of those discussions. The point man during Senate hearings for the hunters was Phil Clemons, an employee of the Salt River Project, and a well-informed and detail-oriented advocate for hunter interests. He had testified (see my entry of PL93-620 H. posted 6 Oct 2012) on the range of issues presented in the Goldwater bill, supporting deletions from the Monuments & asking more, opposing the Havasupai transfer, accepting adding to the Park lower Kanab and Lake Mead NRA lands, as well as Wilderness and a well-regulated Zone of Influence. Altogether a well-crafted position, had the legislative process been conducted in a sensible format of "lets sit down and see what we can come up with in a compromise". Of course, that had not been the story.

What was surprising was that there was no hunter representation at the House hearings in November, nor for that matter did they seem to make any showing during and past House Parks Subcommittee consideration. As best I can tell, awareness of our additions was confined to a letter sent by the Forest Service to the Committee chair, 9 Apr 1974, opposing the Kanab addition. Only in July --a inexplicable four-month gap-- did hunter lobbying of the Subcommittee result really start, in particular as Jantzen tried to convince Udall in person and unsuccessfully, of the validity of hunter claims about the additions. 

By mid-August, the flood of hunter letters was apparent --there are three folders of them in the Udall archives. His standard reply stressed that he had added a study  to check out whether the additions were, in fact, really suitable Park lands. Local opposition "mounted" in a 12 Aug Republic article detailing a statement by the AWF President: "Impossible to accept" the additional 250 kac. Also, they were opposed to the Havasupai transfer. The article listed the areas added, concluding both Forest Service and BLM officials were upset. The BLM said the land it would lose will have an impact, but they didnt know what because they didnt know what they would lose; they could not find out the proposed boundaries. Indeed lack of information seemed to be the lead complaint. However, the article did mention that all bighorn sheep area and "a large section of the Kaibab deer herd wintering area" would end up in a no-hunting Park. "Wildlife management … will be eliminated". "Only those who can pay for park privileges will be able to utilize this land". "The deer herds will be difficult to manage and starvation losses…may reoccur".
  An Arizona Wildlife News piece also led off with the lack of information. It said the AWF had heard about the additions in June, but efforts to get copies of the amendments have been fruitless. All that was available by 17 Jul was an unofficial report by AG&F with a rough outline map. It reprinted in full Jantzen's 10 Jul letter to Udall. 

AWF telegraphed the House Committee and the Arizona delegation on 9 Jul that the additions were "totally unacceptable". They had opposed previous transfers, and additional additions create greater public opposition. They had received a letter 12 June from NPS that it had not recommended any lands be added beyond lower Kanab. AG&F estimated that the additions totalled 825 sq. mi (an error; see below). 

Ben Avery chimed in on 18 Aug: lost will be ⅓ of the deer hunting on the Kaibab and all the bighorn area. Again the lack of information was of concern. "Eastern pressure groups" will form this Park. He got nothing from Udall's or Goldwater's office. From AG&F, he had a figure of 240 kac. He then re-reports Jantzen's letter. However, the 23 Aug National wildlife newsletter reported none of this, concentrating on the Havasupai transfer & its opposition.

September opened with an alert and a fact sheet from the AWF President to all local clubs. We agreed to accept the Goldwater bill in Sep 1973. Now the House would add 350 kac more. Please urge all members to write in opposition to this Udall-Steiger addition. "Some of the best hunting areas in the Kaibab will be locked up, and hunting will not be allowed." [I discuss this point in my earlier hunter post of 1 Apr 1974.] The fact sheet talked of 250 kac, only added because "bigger is better".
  The Kanab extension is of scenic quality, but the boundary is on the rim and hard to follow, intruding into traditional deer winter range and commonly used hunting areas. The herds may explode. The bighorn hunting is 15% of the state hunt. Hunters also oppose the Havasupai addition since they have no interest in range management. 

Finally, Pontius wrote to Clemons in September enclosing the official and our maps and a list of acreages, showing the total of 228,700, although he noted the Park was losing 91 kac to the Havasupai. 

McComb sent out a report that hunters had launched a major campaign to oppose our additions, "in spite of the fact that the expanded park does not include important hunting areas". (Indeed, we had put the boundary on the rim thinking it would help make it well-defined and leave the plateau lands out of the Park.) Our additions are important to the Park's integrity, and support is needed. Contrariwise, Flagstaff and Tucson newspapers ran pieces on the AWF President's letter: AWF "Fights Expansion"; "Bill Bad for Deer". And off in Hawaii, the Int'l Assoc. of Game, Fish, and Conservation Commissioners opposed the additions since they extended into "vitally important big game areas" and are "traditional hunting areas which have carried a large proportion of the hunter effort".

On 20 Sep, McComb was told the AG&F's Russo would come to Tucson to talk about the situation. That meeting included others, who had offered the "compromise" of allowing hunting in the Park, which McComb and Russo agreed was a "can of worms"; and indeed the idea was dis-owned by the organization concerned with Park managment that the proposer belonged to.  McComb then took the opportunity to ask where the hunting was, and Russo talked about a road down into Kanab! He brought up the chukhar partridge they had planted and were now wild. McComb pointed out that their range was not in the Park addition, but Russo thought their range went down even farther. He then countered by suggesting a deal where the deletions from the old Monument would go out of the Park as trade for the additions. McComb said emphatically: No deal!! AG&F showed little interest in the Havasupai fight. [Had this conversation been held back in, say, January, it might have led to more talk, and even a deal, especially if AG&F had approached Udall then and asked for his help. On the other hand, was it our responsibility to keep Park opponents notified of action on the bill? Opportunities too late, and lost.] The National Wildlife newsletter of 20 Sep, still reported on the Havasupai matter exclusively. 

As a sample of our shoring-up effort, McComb wrote Pontius about the marginality of grazing (BLM planned to eliminate it in Kanab) and a Forest Service statement that the prime deer winter range was above the rim. He also put out a leaflet "Park Expansion Under Attack": "Arizona hunting organizations have launched a misguided and uninformed campaign" against our additions, particularly on Kanab. All are within the Canyon's rim except for the long fingers of the Shivwits that extend into it. All contain outstanding scenery, recreation, and scientific interest not duplicated elsewhere. These changes came because Park advocates sought to correct the glaring weaknesses of the Senate bill. This was a compromise addition, including no buffer strip on the plateau--that due to potential hunting opposition. 
 Although prime hunting lands are not being taken, AWF has begun a mail campaign, which includes misstating and misleading information that the deer's winter range will be intruded upon. This is not so; the additions are within the rim, and are not prime hunting nor important winter range. "The ruggedness of the canyon combined with very difficult access virtually precludes significant hunting use." But the opposition is real, and having an impact. Please write the Arizona delegation, especially the Senators. Mention Kanab. 

The AWF News╦ć in October, reporting on the opposition being in high gear, had the Governor opposing the additions in an AWF-AG&F meeting, and on 14 Sep, in another meeting, the hunters learned from Goldwater that he was not in favor of the additions, and would not allow hunting lands to be cut out. So although there did not seem to be a hunter presence in the lobbying leading up to the House debate, they were securing the commitments that could affect its form in final passage. The AWF President was quoted about "some of the best deer winter range and deer hunting". They also emphasized their chukhars. Further west the additions have "some of the best" deer hunting and bighorn. There was also wild turkey. "The House proposal goes too far at the expense of proper resource management and use", the AWF said. 

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