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. 

In February 1980, I finally inquired of the NPS regional office what was going on. The reply contained this phrase, the study was "progressing … as manpower and funds allow". Data had been gathered, mostly from agency files, although an "archeological reconnaissance" had been carried out, too. Another inquiry in April found material had evolved into more of a survey done on NPS standard lines. There would be an analysis of the Strip, its environment, and land uses. A third inquiry suggested the agencies might meet in early 1981, and a public release of "the study package" might follow. I either gave up at this point or followed up by unnoted phone calls. 

The fact that the work took from 1976 through 1981 seems sensible, given the lack of mandate, funding, and agency desire. Perhaps, given the changes wrought by the 1980 election and the taking office of the Reagan administration -- most especially the most blatantly anti-environmental Secretary then imaginable -- the fact that there exists a physical document at all is a wonder. Although I have no documentation, it is easy to imagine the new chiefs, presented with the study, just saying, "lose it". Certainly there was no secretarial recommendation, and no congressional consideration -- quite probably because the report called for no action, as we shall see. 

In any case, the last item in my file is a xerox copy of the "Final Adjacent Lands Study, Grand Canyon National Park", November 1981, and signed off on from 25 Sep to 14 Oct by the three regional agency heads. So apparently the various promises made about have another set of public meetings and/or public report review were ignored. I (nor anyone else?) did not receive a copy of the report when it was published that November. Was it passed on to Congress, or did the hostile Secretariat just quash it? Had I returned to research mode in the 1980's and early '90's, perhaps I would have uncovered some reactions. As it is, i obtained the copy I have some years later from a helpful staffer at the Park. The next post will be a summary/review of that report.

In conclusion, it seems likely that my empty file after 1980 reflects the reality of an unmonitored, dragged-out, ever-less desirable, inquiry effort that led nowhere.

At least, for a while.

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