Monday, April 27, 2015

Grand Canyon River Running and Its Political Status Quo; An Outsider's View of Changes and Potential Change

So how has the economic organization of the River running oligopoly fared since I summarized it in 2003?* Tightened a bit, I would say. 

To summarize the background, (and see the pages from my book below), the events of the 1970's climaxed as a result of the 1980 election that brought the Reagan administration into power, including the motorized commercial operators' (comm ops) legal champion, James Watt, as Secretary of the Interior. At the same time, the Republicans gained a majority in the Senate, empowering the pro-comm op Senators, Barry Goldwater of Arizona and Orrin Hatch of Utah. This capped a dozen years of struggle over river traffic management as the National Park Service and Grand Canyon advocates 1. tried to get a motorless Grand Canyon Wilderness established, and 2. tried to develop & implement a research-based, environmentally sound, experience-enhancing Colorado River Management Plan (CRMP). The struggle resulted from the resistance of the comm ops, particularly those using large motor-driven rafts. 

The effect of the 1980 election was a political de-railing of both the Wilderness and the CRMP, marked by the passage of the infamous Hatch amendment. This political "settlement" of the main issues was locked into place by a comm op-friendly CRMP revision developed and then administered by new Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent R. Marks, who not only lasted through the 1980's, but presided over a further CRMP updating (solidification) at the end of that decade. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Study 3 1980-1 Whatever happened to the Adjacent Lands Study?

Parts 1 and 2 of this mini-saga recorded the first burst of NPS enthusiasm and its quelling, followed two years later by a devastating public review that featured almost solely the hostile reaction of local ranchers and Arizona hunters. Had the study never recovered, it would have been no surprise. During this period, 1978 through 1980, a huge amount of effort was expended to put into place a sound river management plan and to have a sound Wilderness proposal sent to Congress. (I also had taken on a full-time job.) As well, whatever connections I had to people who might have been involved in the study had frayed away. So I find it no surprise to see that my files are barren of interesting material. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Study 3: Adjacent Lands: Some publics speak out 1977-8

Apparently not pleased with the zeal shown by Frank Collins of the DSC -- perhaps reacting as well to displeasure of the Forest Service and BLM at that zeal -- NPS Western Regional Direction Howard Chapman brought this study preparation into his own office in San Francisco, assigning Landscape Architect Nicholas Weeks to the task of completing the Task Directive.. During that same period in 1976, the Wilderness Study had been completed and passed on to Washington. The effect on us advocates was that in the first half of 1977, my files indicate we had no active sources of information. Finally in July 1977, I wrote to Chapman wondering "whatever happened" to the study to add lands.

Chapman's reply was artless: the "tri-agency effort" continued; a task directive had been written by NPS and was being reviewed. There would be a public announcement, and workshops held, perhaps in a couple of months in Tucson, Phoenix, Flagstaff & St. George. 

Silence again until I inquired in early September. Again, all was continuing, and following a meeting of the three agencies on 15 Sep, actions would be taken to open the directive up for public discussion. The Draft Task Directive, with sign-off dates from 8 Aug to 15 Sep, did in fact appear soon thereafter, along with a cardboard leaflet announcing "A Study of Possible Additiions to Grand Canyon National Park. 1977". It provided a tear-off postcard, with space for comments, that one could send to the Park Sup't asking for the Directive. The crucial matter of dates was released 7 Nov, setting the week of 12 Dec for the public meetings.