Tritely enough, the Presidential signature marked the end of the gestation stage of the Grand Canyon National Park Enlargement Act and the beginning of its life as part of the living law that governs how the Grand Canyon and especially its National Park are to be treated in the political-legal framework of American society. That sentence is not only a trite metaphor but carries major ironies: Enlargement? Or shrinkage? Expansion of a national Park? or an Indian Reservation? And whatever the intent, it is all too clear 40 years later, that much of the Act has been ignored in letter, spirit or both.
Still, 3 January 1975 is a legitimate marker. It also, Im afraid, marks the end of my keeping a detailed, often day-to-day, journal. I deeply regret this now; much of what I saw, heard, & did from 1975-82 was recorded on memory's delicate emulsion--and then exposed to the light (to use a Brower metaphor). So the story of the new law's early years is much more dependent on documents from the time, and there is often little information on context and detail of people's actions. There is no single story thread anymore; the issues multiplied. And many played out over years and decades; some are unsettled.
The National Park Service saw itself as the focussing agency, and so did we; the Bureau of Indian Affairs also took a role in leading on the Land Use Plan. Almost the Park administration's first public action was a 16 Jan 1975 press release that set a tone, saying Sup't Stitt "announced today that the Thunder River area and Lower Kanab Canyon areas, recently acquired by (NPS), will be open to hiking and camping under permit only. The Thunder River Trail is considered hazardous because of extremely high temperatures and lack of water…" Limits were established; fires were forbidden; pet & vehicles banned; Park rangers will be on duty "to enforce regulations".
At a higher level, the DC office sent two important "activation" memos to the Western Regional Director. The NPS best guess on the "authorized acreage" was detailed on 23 Jan:
897,935 acres from the old Park and Monument, and Marble Canyon Monument
327,215 were added from Lake Mead and
2,700 from Glen Canyon Recreation Areas*
37,000 in lower Kanab from the Kaibab Forest
10,860 in western Canyon from BLM lands
2,700 the Colorado riverbed**
25,600 Marble Canyon's east side***
1,084 side canyon heads on Marble's west side, from BLM & FS
640 Coconino addition, from Kaibab Forest****
83,809 to the Havasupai from the old Park and Monument*****
3,550 Marble Canyon west side, above rim, back to BLM
The asterisks show where we, the pro-Canyon lobbyists, differed, as follows:
*100 acres were added from Glen Canyon
**1000 acres was enough for the riverbed, and anyway, this was a concept that we considered irrelevant, since the point was that the entire surface of the River, from the Paria to the Grand Wash Cliffs was in the Park and under NPS jurisdiction. The riverbed was another issue.
***We did not consider the east side of Marble to be in the Park in any way, since Navajo concurrence was required. NPS takes the view that they can claim it even though confusion can arise, as it does in signing the boundary, assigning jurisdiction over use, and dealing with miseries like the current tramway scheme at the Confluence. Nevertheless, recent interpretation of the 1975 Act does suggest that cooperative action by Navajo and NPS, without challenging Navajo sovereignty, is in the interest of the United States to protect the Canyon, inside and outside of the Park.
****One of life's little mysteries. The 640 acres was to be shifted to the Park to help in road-building. Somewhere during the legislation consideration, an NPS map-maker drew the boundary of this piece too far to the east so that it looked like 920 acres was being added. This error was never caught, ended up on the official legislated map, and has been accepted by the Forest Service.
*****It has recently come to light that the Havasupai have annexed Beaver Falls on Havasu Creek. The Falls, as the legislative history & documents make clear, was to be in the Park, the boundary just upstream of them. Sometime in the late twentieth century, some map-maker began drawing the Park-Havasupai boundary wrongly, moving Beaver Falls into Havasupai jurisdiction and running the boundary line down the middle of the stream instead of going directly across it. The Havasupai have now established a physical presence and are indeed charging a fee to visit. NPS has chosen not to defend Park interests or the rights of anyone with a park permit to visit Beaver Falls.
These differences give a grand total of 1,188,475 acres. Others, like the hunters, made their own estimates.
We have a clear view of what the NPS Washington office thought the bill had brought about from a 27 Jan 1975 memo by R. Curry, Associate Director for Legislation, a helpful sort with whom we had worked off and on during the previous two years. He noted the signature date, 3 January, and that the bill combined NPS and adjacent lands into an enlarged Park; there are additions and "some" deletions. The Act abolished the two old Monuments, and this should be remembered when revising materials for the public.
He continued with the following analysis. Section 3c requires a study be made to determine if certain lands are suitable for retention in the Park. NPS has stated there should be an archeological survey, and GCNP should fund this study, with a report due 17 Nov of this year.
Similarly, the Conference Committee's report, enclosed, directs a study of additional lands to see if they should be added: Parashaunt, Andrus, Whitmore, upper Kanab canyons and the Shivwits Plateau.
GCNP should work to negotiate transfers of land from others; there is $1.25 million for acquisition. Note also the section 7 preserving existing grazing rights.
(I will insert here the curious item that the grazing permit for some horses on lower Kanab was shut down by the Park almost immediately. Seeing this as not in accord with the law, I protested to Senator Goldwater, citing the 10-year period for renewals. However, nobody seemed to care about a few horses. That was not the case out on the Sanup in the western Canyon, where there was vociferous objection, permittee Gubler setting up a locked gate on a private section that blocked access out to the Shivwits.)
Over the years, almost all the grazing has been eliminated from Canyon-sensitive lands on the north side and many private inholdings bought. Grazing continues on the Kaibab Plateau and the Arizona Strip. What had been a hot, if minor, matter in 1973-4, has evaporated through user disinterest or agency initiative.
Section 8 should lead to "careful documentation" of airspace violations. Formulate recommendations, keeping in mind NPS has an agreement with the FAA on minimum altitudes over some parks. (This weak provision was superseded in later years.)
Section 9, concerning the dam, does not appear as a practical matter to be concerned about.
Section 10 expands the Havasupai Reservation and provides for a traditional use zone within the Park. GCNP should consult with the BIA and the Havasupai to assure protection of park values. Review and make recommendations on the rules for the "Use Lands".
Money was available for development, and the Park did request additional rangers for Grand Wash Cliffs, Tuweep, and Pasture Wash. They worried about the need for control of fires, safety/search & rescue, feral burros, backpackers, Antiquities Act violations, grazing & hunting trespass, bighorn lambing, mining claim management, and heavy growth in river use. New housing out at Tuweep on the old Monument was needed, since what one ranger, John Riffey, had done, now required several personnel.
In January, a meeting on the boundary between the Park and Glen NRA was inconclusive: was it just to high water line? Who was to administer Lees Ferry? River questions came up in a conversation between the Park and Hualapai as early as May 1975. Again, the Park superintendent just assumed that the boundary definition in the new law -- south bank -- meant the high water line or even the historic high water line, whatever that might be. This, of course, displeased the Hualapai (see my detailed posts), and us as well, since the legislation was aimed at granting jurisdiction over the river, its water surface, not over any land on the south bank.
More easily, an understanding was reached with Lake Mead between the superintendents in May 1975. They focussed on visitor river use, which was increasing both down and upstream. There were the usual litter and sanitation problems from unregulated use. The Park was hoping for additional personnel and also aerial coverage. It would send its patrol boat down to the Lake, but LMNRA would also be involved. The lower gorge would now be added to the river management plan, and discussion would start with the Hualapai, difficult if the Superintendent was going to insist that some of the south shore was in the Park.
However, taking the activation memo as a guide, the real action with respect to the new law would come with the launch of the Four Studies:
Suitability of the Kanab Plateau;
Park-Worthiness of certain Adjacent Lands;
Grand Canyon Wilderness;
Havasupai Land Use Plan plus guidelines for the Park's Havasupai Use Area.
Here is the official map of the new Park and Reservation Addition, with the study areas marked in color:
The red areas were the plateau lands that the hunters and stock-growers wanted removed from the Park. The legislation said to study their suitability for Park purposes.
On the opposite hand, the green areas were the lands the House had added to the Park, but the Senate refused to accept. The study, with a low priority, was to see if they were of Park quality.
The brown is the addition to the Havasupai Reservation, for which the Secretary was to prepare a land use plan. These, obviously, were not Park lands. However, the lands in blue were kept in the Park, and to be made available under NPS guidelines, to the Havasupai for traditional uses.
The final study, but of high priority, was a wilderness study to take in all of the new Park (the black dot-dash line) including the red and the blue lands. I have written in detail about the history of Park wilderness studies and their results in my Hijacking A River, and will not repeat that history in blog.
The rough road ahead was indicated by a 6 Mar 1975 letter from Senator Fannin to "Dear Rog", the Secretary of the Interior, R C B Morton, most recently a Republican Congressman from Maryland: Many of Fannin's constituents were saying the lands to be studied are of value for their multiple uses. He questioned the objectivity of an NPS study, and believed it should be done by officials not in NPS or BLM. Earlier, Fannin had listed groups that should be involved, advocates both for the hunters and those who wanted to expand the Park.
The 28 Mar reply was that any such study would not be objective, but would use "carefully spelled out and rigidly adhered to" criteria for Park land. There will be controversy and therefore public meetings, with the public intimately involved in the final disposition. Goldwater and Steiger also complained about a biased study, and the latter suggested he would try to block funding for the study of any additions.
Park advocates, of course, pushed from the other direction: further recognition of the full description of the Canyon; asking Congressman Udall to get Interior to keep him posted on progress on the various studies/; insisting that the entire water surface, now in the Park, be subject to Park regulations, and asking whether public hunting on the Havasupai lands would protect the bighorn sheep. One hope of mine was that the north side of the Canyon, under several administrations, could be considered and planned for by the land agencies as a single regional entity.
Scenting the wind, the regional director told the Denver Service Center (which would conduct the first studies) to make the Adjacent Lands study the lowest priority, and delayed until June 1976. That made sense anyway, since the suitability study had a one-year deadline and the Wilderness recommendation was mandated for the end of 1976. He also wanted the BIA to do the Land Use Plan, while NPS would prepare guidelines for the Use Lands left in the Park. Indeed, the BIA met with the Havasupai in June to explain the timetable, which puzzled the tribal council since they had already drawn up a use plan.
NPS also wrote the Navajo May 1975 that they planned to resurvey and fence the eastern boundary, and invited them to discuss it. No reply appears in the file.