A couple of weeks after the 1975 Park Act was signed, I gathered my thoughts about the 2+ year (or really 10-year) effort to expand the Park so that its border more accurately would portray for the public and the world, the extents of the Grand Canyon (length, depth, width, complexity). I then wrote a 7-page letter to Superintendent Merle Stitt to set forth in a section-by-section analysis what I thought the law meant and was meant to accomplish.
I summarize it here along with some current thoughts. For comparison, the actual text of the Act is reproduced at http://gcfutures.blogspot.com/2012/07/grand-canyon-national-park-enlargement.html .
Each of my comments has three parts:
What the section said, in paraphrase
My 1975 comment
Where we are with all of that 40 years later
The Act was titled "Grand Canyon National Park Enlargement Act"
"almost a mockery", indicating quite how depressed we were about losing to the hunters and the Havasupai.
A truer title would be "The Grand Canyon National Park and Havasupai Reservation Enlargement Act".
The entire Grand Canyon is congressionally recognized, from the Paria to the Grand Wash Cliffs, with its side canyons and surrounding plateaus; its further protection and interpretation are provided for.
"very pleased" at this "official" description. I emphasized how it worked together with section 6 authorizing NPS to cooperate with others outside the Park on matters of interpretation & protection. NPS, for the first time, was being encouraged to interpret the entire Grand Canyon to bring to the public's attention the Canyon in all its geological, biological, & cultural facets.
The foundation of the legislation for us was that, yes the Park could never include the entire Canyon, but ways of cooperation and help could be found to boost the Canyon in its entirety in public consciousness.
The description has taken hold in maps, descriptions, travel ideas.
NPS working with "outsiders"? -- not so much.
The Act has not yet succeeded in expanding the vision of GCNP Superintendents or the organization of their administrations to match the vision of Congress.
SECTION 3 (a)
The Park boundary would be as shown on map 113-20,021 B (December 1974) comprising approximaely 1,200,000 acres SUBJECT to valid rights under Navajo Boundary Act of 1934. (The map is at http://gcfutures.blogspot.com/2010/07/gcnp-boundary-segments-of-line.html )
In coming decades the area between the Shivwits rim and the river will take its proper place for backcountry possibilities and the breadth of its panoramas.
The split between the Park and the Grand Canyon - Parashant National Monument has interfered with this future.
and I said:
The boundary starts at the Paria because 1. it is properly the Canyon's beginning, and 2. that will avoid argument over Lees Ferry though its administration is more akin to the Park than Glen Canyon.
A kind of joint administration of river use at Lees seems a settled matter.
and I said:
The "detached" piece of Lake Mead NRA in the west is in my vision administered under coordinated planning & management for the Canyon's entire northern side, from Lees to Bright Angel to Toroweap to the Shivwits. With section 6, there can be an "integrated administration in the Arizona Strip … protecting the Canyon & its vicinity, while providing for its interpretation and appropriate enjoyment".
Not yet, not yet.
The Park Service, the Interior Department & its Secretary, have failed to honor this vision, and the north side of the Canyon, all under federal jurisdiction, remains split among the Park, Lake Mead, BLM, and Kaibab National Forest.
and I said:
The entire river surface is in the Park, the boundary placed explicitly to resolve ambiguity about the Hualapai Reservation boundary. That ambiguity was now settled by Congress: "The Reservation goes to the south bank and along the south bank, and the Park extends north across the whole river from that south bank." The official boundary map includes the notation that the Park boundary is on the south bank. The principal House sponsor said "this entire stretch of the Colorado River will be included in the park so that it will be clearly under the administrative jurisdiction of the National Park Service." Also, the Act provides for wilderness study of all lands "including the entire river" for possible wilderness designation.
The ambiguity removed by Congress has been brought back by the Park's NPS administration, in spite of Interior solicitors' opinions asserting the primacy of the south bank boundary. The current situation is a sad commentary on the inability of NPS (and the Hualapai) to maintain an accommodation that honors the Canyon's integrity while reserving to the Hualapai what is their due from ownership of the Canyon's south side.
SECTION 3 (b)
The Marble Canyon and Grand Canyon National Monuments are abolished.
I made no comment.
Yet the ghost of Marble Canyon NM hangs around disturbing discussion of the Park boundary adjacent to the Navajo Reservation.
SECTION 3 (c)
The Secretary was to study the plateau lands in the north of the abolished Grand Canyon NM that had been included in the expanded Park, to see if any were unsuitable for park purposes. A report was to be made in one year.
The hunters & ranchers wanted the lands deleted from the legislation; they were not, and so as a face-saving measure "for Goldwater when Emerson made such an ass of himself trying to browbeat the Interior Department," we suggested a study of the "already-known park values". NPS would need to document those values; but they ought to be safe.
I then went on to discuss the study of areas we thought deserved Park status, which had been deleted from the legislation due to "hunters's lies about Kanab." The Conference report ordered a study of their park quality, to be sent to Congress. There was no time limit but I suggested that it might be readied along with the wilderness study recommendations.
The first study was done on time; the lands remain in the Park.
The second study was done, but not completed until the early 1980's. The political climate had then been changed by the election of Reagan. The study -- conducted by NPS, FS, and BLM-- found the lands of park quality, but recommended there be no change in their administration.
A few years later, the Kanab Canyon section was established as Wilderness under BLM & FS. In the late 1990's, an Interior Secretary more knowledgable of and friendlier to the Canyon, had the remaining lands plus lots more set up as the Grand Canyon - -Parashant N. M. but still administered under BLM and NPS' LMNRA. (This entire subject is the next topic in this history blog.)
SECTIONS 4 & 5
4 a: Land may be acquired by donation, purchase, or exchange.
4 b: Federal lands within the new boundary are transferred to Interior's jurisdiction.
5 1: State land may only be acquired by donation or exchange.
5 2: No land held in trust for any Indian tribe or nation may be transferred to the United States except after approval of the governing body of the tribe or nation.
These were fairly standard provisions. Little state or private land is involved, though the state parcels near Marble's rim should be checked out, along with the 5 parcels off the Shivwits rim; the topography ought to prevent exploitation.
I pointed out that section 5 on Indian approval applies particularly to Navajo land along Marble. That boundary is "not well-defined" because it refers to legal subdivisions that have never been surveyed. If the Navajo were willing to negotiate, then the boundary could be set at the rim. If there were good relations and available funds, perhaps there could be joint interpretation and a fixed boundary on the rim. "I am doubtful that the Navajos would be interested in any settlement that makes it appear they are giving up land or water rights. I would far prefer that we all try to make friends out there first."
The BLM map of the Arizona Strip shows no state or private parcels, though I have not checked out their disposition.
The east side of Marble that Goldwater hoped to add remains, as I believe it will, part of the Navajo Reservation. The suggestion I made for joint action has never been taken up, but given current publicity over the latest developers' heinous escapade, the Escalade at the confluence of the Colorado & Little Colorado, joint action would be a route whereby Navajo and Park Service could cooperate for their own benefit and the Canyon's integrity.
The Secretary is authorized and encouraged to make cooperative agreements with federal, state, & local public departments and agencies and with interested Indian tribes --
for the protection and interpretation of the Grand Canyon in its entirety.
The Secretary may develop and operate interpretative facilities & programs outside the Park boundary with the concurrence of the land-owner --
to the end that there will be a unified interpretation of the entire Grand Canyon.
This provision gives "substance" to the definition of Section 2. The superintendent cannot tell other agencies what to do, but section 6 "is a clear desire (by Congress) to create a place for the Canyon in everyone's priorities." There is to be more awareness of the Canyon.
Section 6 calls for cooperation for protection, enabling the Park to do more about defending the Park boundaries, and encouraging agreements, for instance, to maintain approaches to the Canyon.
This provision laid out a powerful tool for presentation and cooperative endeavors to provide for the Canyon as a world-famous environmental icon. It has mostly lain unused. The hope was that the agencies and entities of the Canyon could work together, eschewing the conflicts exemplified by the fight over building dams. Even though there could not be a single political jurisdiction, perhaps the vision of the complete Canyon could guide the various land-owners and administrators toward the creation of the practical elements of a jointly held ideal.
So far, no.
This provision for "preservation of existing grazing rights" in fact imposed a ten-year limit on any grazing, except for that on the old Monument, where there was a pre-existing agreement for lifetime leases.
This section had to deal with two groups of permittees that the Park would have to put up with. I noted that both BLM & FS have talked about cutting down Kanab grazing -- another place where cooperation might produce good results.
On the Shivwits, I worried about trouble from the permittees, Gubler & Fry. (There were 2600 aum permitted on the Sanup Plateau, between the inner and outer rims; unbelievably.) Coordinating with BLM could be another spur to consolidation of NPS areas on the north side, establishing an NPS presence under the Park's jurisdiction.
The grazing is now all gone. Moreover, Kanab Canyon and the Grand Canyon piece of LMNRA have been largely freed of grazing. These initiatives are welcome, and reflect how much the economic & political heft of stockmen has dwindled from when the Park was set up.
A first step to deal with "any aircraft activity … including below the rims… likely to cause injury to the health, welfare, or safety of visitors … or to cause a significant adverse effect on the natural quiet and experience of the park". The Secretary shall submit complaints, information or recommendations to the responsible agencies, e.g., F.A.A., E.P.A., in order to protect the public health, welfare, and safety or natural environment. The responsible agency shall consider the matter, consult with the Secretary and take appropriate action to protect the park and visitors.
This provision was mostly ignored during the legislative history; it was Senator Goldwater's initiative.
It gave the Superintendent an avenue to handle public complaints, a clear mandate that the FAA must consider the adverse effects due to planes. This provision is broad and strong, talking about natural quiet and the park experience. It also invokes the EPA & the 1972 Noise Control Act.
This would allow a regulation, for instance, to prevent river runners from cheating on helicopter landings.
I didnt wish to eliminate plane traffic, just keep it above the rims. The wilderness proposal will reinforce aircraft regulation, since in the Canyon, a wilderness study needs to be a "volume", not just an "area" study.
Voluntary agreements on aircraft use would be welcome, too.
This first step was superseded by the increasing incursions of aircraft operators, the occurrence of accidents, and 1980's legislation. The pressure for inappropriate aircraft use over this place, dedicated to a natural quiet as part of its environment has been intense. The degradation from the Hualapai-approved operations, increased flights using Grand Canyon airport, continuous pressure to alter acceptable standards, and the fact that this activity can impact the visitor so heavily insure that aircraft use will always be a vexatious debate.
SECTION 9 (a)
The prohibition on dams enacted in 1968 was restated.
The dams are "dead and nailed up". The failure of the pro-dam lobby to weaken this provision shows this is not an "Arizona issue".
A good time to reflect on the huge damage the dams would have brought to the Canyon and its region. We, and the generations to come, are privileged to enjoy and contemplate this free place.
SECTION 9 (b)
The 1919 Act allowed the Secretary to authorize reclamation projects in the original Park. Section 9b ended that, but allowed authorization in the area that had been in LMNRA.
The section is "a totally dead letter". The Secretary cannot authorize reclamation projects; any would have to go through Congress. This was a face-saver for Arizona (and the Hualapai who lobbied hard for their dam), and it need not affect any actions by NPS, including the wilderness study.
Not even the Hualapai advocate a dam today, and the long drought, with drops in Mead & Powell reservoirs, provides a reminder of the foolishness we escaped.
This long section expanded the Havasupai Reservation, subjected the expansion to seven guidelines, and allowed the Havasupai to use an area of the Park for traditional uses.
Little to say about "the Havasupai tragedy". I told the Superintendent he was supposed to be the guardian of park uses & values in the development of the Secretarial Land Use Plan for the Reservation.
The Superintendent was also to protect animals who use the Park from hunting. The Secretary, as well, could prohibit non-tribal hunting where the integrity of the Park as a game sanctuary was at stake.
The Havasupai Use Lands were to be considered for wilderness designation notwithstanding tribal uses. Hunting would not be allowed at all, and horse grazing could be regulated to protect park values.
I thought that use of the appropriate authority could prevent evil effects from this gift.
The Land Use Plan was completed in the early 1980's by the Havasupai with the BIA as the involved agency. The worst fears of Park advocates have not been realized.
The Plan is probably due for review and revision. In particular, non-Havasupai access is not being protected as the legislation explicitly called for.
In writing the history of this legislation, I discovered that map-makers in the 1990'2 had mistakenly removed Beaver Falls from the Park and assigned it to the Havasupai, who have lately been charging an entry fee and making illegal improvements. The Park administration is afraid to correct this error.
SECTION 11 (Because of the clerical error, this section was not in the bill the President signed and so had to be inserted by a separate bill enacted 6/10/75. There was also a final section,12, dealing the authorization of funds, which I did not discuss.)
The Secretary is to report to the President within two years his recommendations on the suitability of any area of the Park for wilderness in accordance with the Wilderness Act.
The provision specifically calls for consideration of the River and of the Havasupai Use Area. I also urge NPS to consider the airspace. Please do a new study; do not just patch the old one. Kanab was found suitable by the Forest Service, but the land under the Shivwits rim has not been adequately treated. There can now be an integrated wilderness proposal covering land, water & air, which will take advantage of the latest department regulations and NPS methods. NPS would have two years in order to do a thorough job (because of the error, that ended as 18 months). I hoped it might also allow for an election of a more congenial delegation.
The Park Service rose magnificently to meet this challenge and forwarded its recommendation on time, with the new President (Carter) recommending it as part of his program. However, the defect in the legislation -- that it did not order the Presidential recommendation to go to Congress within a set time -- allowed intense lobbying by the motor-boat businesses to so delay the proposal that it never did get to Congress. This is laid out in my book on the river Hijacking A River.
I summed up by saying we were on a new road.
Forty years later, I think it would be an interesting exercise were the Park Service to look back over these decades, and offer up its evaluation of its administration at Grand Canyon under the 1975 Act.