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.

A glance at the leaflet's map is enough to show the public relations problem set up by the study organizers:

Although the areas shown are in some sense reasonable as far as an abstract study of the lands went, politically NPS was just asking for trouble by seeming to suggest that many acres -- particularly in the Kanab Canyon area -- above the rims would be considered. The map in the Task Directive itself (see my previous entry on Study 3) was more precisely defined, but still left the impression of a possible Park expansion beyond even that which we had urged in Congress in 1974. [Of course, it is not knowable whether a precisely defined study boundary actually on the rims would have brought a less virulent response.]

This impression was strengthened by the leaflet's language. Correctly, it stated that Congress had considered but not included additional lands that "have potential park value". Those lands were to be studied, the implication being that it was the lands that Congress had actively voted on. However, the study, noting again correctly that Congress "did not strictly define" the study areas, then put words in Congress's mouth: they should be "zones of ecological concern"; the "entire Kanab Canyon complex plus 1 mile back from the rims" (and similarly for the Andrus/Parashant/Whitmore Canyons); the Shivwits "within" LMNRA. All that totaled 480 kac, about twice what the Conference Committee had singled out, and all on plateau lands.

The study would evaluate resources for (!) "their national significance" and role in "maintaining the integrity" of the Park; (2) their use as scientific "control" to compare with multiply used lands; (3) their nonpark purposes. The result would be a "series" of alternative additions and their impacts. The public was invited to "freely comment", to be kept informed, and to attend the public workshops. 

An explanatory sheet sent out by the Park was more bland: workshops were being held to discuss the Task Directive and the study's direction. Workshops later would discuss any alternatives formulated. "No previous analysis" exists; "this is a real beginning and a chance for you to participate." The accompanying map used legal subdivision boundaries to enclose even more generous study areas on multiple-use LMNRA, BLM & FS lands, which surely emphasized to anti-Park individuals the dangers such a study could pose. After all, given that their hopes for dis-establishing some "low-grade" Park had been stifled by the 1975 Suitability Study results, how else could they interpret a map such as this except as potential Park grabs?

The one little piece of Park to be evaluated was the southern end of the far western "bird-beak"; land that was outside the actual physical Canyon. But then, even that piece was not marked out on the map included in the Task Directive.

That document began by quoting the Dec 1974 report from the Conference Committee. It then traced the period from Dec 1975 to Mar 1976 during which the three agencies "reached agreement on broad direction for a joint agency study". The acreages resolved to 160 kac from LMNRA, 160 kac from BLM, and 70 kac from FS, totalling 390 kac. That could be compared to the 228 kac that ended up in the House-approved bill. Thus, advocates for further Park expansion were in the position of once again appearing to want even more above-rim lands, a position we had already abandoned during House consideration in early 1974. Looking back on this effort, it seems that a more appropriate approach would have been to pick the most defensible pieces of side canyon, in the sense of those most obviously integral to appreciation of the Canyon. Coincidentally, they would have been the pieces that had the very minimum of non-Park uses. Since LMNRA lands were already multiple-use, there would be little trading value in turning some of them over to BLM. Nevertheless, a less alarming approach might have been to stress the study as a boundary "rectification" effort. (Oh well, I did not see the pitfall back then, either.}

In the next section, each agency described its mandates. NPS stressed "nationally significant natural areas", but in its detailed list of values, it left out archeology and history. BLM straight-forwardly listed grazing, game yield, industrial development, minerals, occupancy, recreation,  timber, watershed protection, wilderness, and preservation of public values and cultural resources. The Forest Service also stressed its multiple-use history, highlighting recreation, range, timber, watershed and wildlife. Specifically there was the Game Preserve keeping the land open to hunting, and the new Kanab wilderness study. The Kanab rim was "a noted trophy big game hunting area". In a Wilderness, grazing and game managment are permitted uses. Range is managed, and the FS was working on a balanced program. Recreation management was already for wilderness, with trailheads above the rim. Timber, watershed, and fire management were of lesser interest. 

Section IV emphasized the need to search for Park values, along with determining non-park purposes. "The primary area of concern of this study will be the determination of the qualification of any part or parts of the study areas for national park designation." The values to seek data on were geology, rare species, unique ecologies, history, archeology, wildlife, minerals, soils, vegetation, scenic values, hydrology, air & water quality, climate, recreation, socio-economic factors, grazing, timber, mining, development, and existing legal restraints. 

The products of the study would be a comprehensive description of the resources, their evaluation using NPS socio-economic criteria, a set of alternatives, the record of pubic involvement, and a recommendation. October 1979 was set for completion using these procedures:
Public review and final regional approval of the Task Directive.
Data accumulation, primarily from the involved offices, but possible consultant work where data voids are identified.
Drafting resource description & evaluation, alternatives, and environmental impacts. Review of these at the regional level.
Writing and public distribution of a preliminary report. 
Public workshops to gather comment, and generate additional information & alternatives.
Preparation of the final report and environmental assessment.
Development of a regional recommendation.
Washington office review.
Public comment would be allowed for 45 days, and then analyzed to allow for report revision.
Preparation of draft EIS, if required, for a Secretarial recommendation.

I have various notes taken during the workshops. The first was in Tucson, 12 Dec 1977. I skipped Flagstaff, then went on to Phoenix, and the last day to the most hostile territory in St. George, Utah on 15 Dec. 

A Tucson newspaper article in November set the tone: Largely an interview with a hunter who specialized in going up to the Strip, it included most of the errors by which the hunters had decided the debate three years before: 50% of deer winter where lands would be closed to hunting; they are primitive lands open to hunting and should be; if a park, the interviewee and future generations will not be able to hunt there; he hated to think what will happen to the deer if hunting is stopped.
The state G&F director chimed in that the lands are excellent for deer and have "huntable" bighorn sheep. 

In the Tucson gathering, I heard, if not learned, from the crowd of hunting fans that :
State Game & Fish would be involved for data in 1978. Trophy deer were on the points; they use the Gooseneck for access, which is tough out there. Hunting wasnt allowed below rims. Kaibab deer winter in the Park and adjacent areas. The pronghorn roam free near the Park. The resources were in excellent condition. There were 2000 buck permits "in or near" study area. Hunters do not damage lands, and no more exclosures were wanted. Areas were 30 miles from the Canyon "proper". Trophy deer were taken above Andrus & Snake Canyons. God put down the cloven-hoofed for man's use. Ranchers were about out of business, due to 3-year drought. NPS is not able to supervise users. 

There were 60+ people present, and the speakers were about 2-1 pro-hunter. A newspaper report focussed on the hunter interviewed previously and a Sierra Club member who wanted to close the land to mining -- prescient given the continuing pressures exerted by the uranium boost-and-boom cycle. Pete Cowgill, Arizona Star outdoor columnist opined in a piece that the Grand Canyon squirrels had come to Tucson to spend 2½ hours being vocal in repeating their opposition to reducing any area open to hunting and equally on the other side wanting to protect as much land as possible in the Park. Pete sympathized with the three-man study team. He thought the meeting's purpose was not to debate hunting, but to discuss issues in preparation for alternative plans for Park expansion. No luck with that. Grazing, for instance, was given hardly a chance, he wrote: the squirrels "chatter so incessantly and quarrelsomely."

The Phoenix meeting brought out 70 or so people, including the premier Canyon hiker, Harvey Butchart, and Republic outdoor guru, Ben Avery. My notes highlighted a few interesting points rather than recording all speakers (perhaps I was bored with the debate's sterility, too): Whitmore & the Shivwits were called "de facto" wilderness. The status quo suited some; very few people use the area now or would if added to the Park. It was a place where people went to get away from people. The Park could protect against such uses as mining, whereas the benefits of multiple use brought protection while keeping many activities. The Forest Service had been studying Kanab since 1970 (though with no hunting data). Hunters use Kanab more than anyone else. Doubt was expressed that the Park Service had enough people to protect such a big area, and anyway NPS did not do wildlife management. The boundary did need some work. Wilderness status was preferred for Kanab; the Wilderness Society did not favor making it part of the Park 

By far, the most intense show was in St George where about 100 people showed up. I remember a fairly large meeting room, filled to the corners with people standing along the sides. I stood near the back with a fine view. There was no applause after the study team's presentation. The crowd was not furiously angry, as much as united in its resistance.  Indeed, as the evening went on, I found the attitude not so militant as with the hunters defending their prerogatives to use Kanab Canyon. Instead, my notes say I felt the speakers' tone seemed almost "defeatist". 

The evening presented a historical parade of Mormon settler family descendants.* Speaker after speaker gave his (a few, her) name, the number of families they represented, and the grazing area they used. They often made references to their history, maybe coming from 2-3 generations of users. Such were the Jacksons, represented by Norm who defended his families' operations. He also, accurately, pointed out that the House lines had only gone to the rims, while the study was considering arbitrary boundaries that took in plateau lands. He complained there was no map showing how the study areas encroached on the allotment boundaries. 

There were speakers for the cattle-grower associations of Utah, Nevada, & Arizona.  One wanted no expansion beyond the canyon walls into productive grazing land. Another approved of the original Goldwater bill, since it was most suitable for grazing with "reasonable" provision for wildlife. Their basic position opposed any Park expansion.

By far, however, it was individual residents we heard, often more than one in a family -- a roll call of Strip users: Jackson, Heaton, Judd, Gubler & Frei, Bundy, Esplin, Schmutz, Findlay, Vaughn, and others, not all of whose names I recognized from my just-beginning acquaintance with Strip history. Much was said establishing their credentials to say: continue as is. As one said, some land "was already locked up, and not being useful". Here is a sampling as they bulked up their case over the evening: 

Some might have to move away from the area. The schools would lose state aid. Damage was not being done. Graziers provide water for wildlife; so what will happen if the Park takes over. They feared life tenancies, so why not buy everyone out. The lands in the old Monument and the Park were in museums, and needed to be taken back out into use. We will close access across the private lands we have. Taxes will be higher. Burros will be starved out. More than one cited the costs of having bought a permit. Some just wanted all the Park given back. This is a way of life, and it ought to be protected too. (See my comment at the end about the Southern Paiutes and their "way of life".) No one talked to any of us about these lands; they would cut off access to other parts of a permit. Producers would be destroyed. In 5-6 months, one had never seen another person on one of the prominent points. The Sierra Clubbers eat beef; they leave trash behind; nobody visits anyway. Nobody uses now, but if made a park, it will be all crowded up. One had been forced out of business five different times, and now the Navajo are showing up. Winter range built up by father would be taken. One had told Congressman Udall there was no esthetic value in the part of Kanab Creek that was grazed. We will just lose all the developments for water etc. that have been made over the years, or that we paid for when we took over permits. The Park does not maintain its fences now, and should be moved to within a mile of the rim. Nobody sees any of the Park except from the roads, and the Forest Service maintains those. No sense in these parks and wilderness areas--BLM are open to all and taken care of. Hunters can use keys to get through private access lands. Anyway, all of us have lost stuff from people saying this is public land. Even stoves have been taken. They dump garbage and commit vandalism. One complained about the horse thieves. The users protect the land, and should be represented. The Ford Foundation supports an environmental agenda, and we should talk to local Ford dealers. We dont oppose protecting "nice places"; we oppose your taking half a million acres. This study team is slanted and has its mind made up. This will force some out of business and onto welfare.

A count of the hands in the audience showed two in favor of the Park; the opposing arms-up were a thick forest. Thus was heard the voice of these at the grass roots; if all American politics were local politics, how many Parks would there be?

The St George newspaper article a week later wrote of only two in favor out of 94 present. The testimony was not abusive, but got the point across clearly and concisely, that the speakers feared to lose their livelihood. They fought "a continual battle to oppose all these studies which seldom reflect the views of those who settled and utilized this country."  One said NPS doesnt know all it thinks its does about these proposals, which would wipe the families all out of existence.
  Weeks of NPS said they had "received the message loud and clear", that 100 percent of those using the land were opposed to any Park expansion. There had been opposition in the other hearings, Weeks said, but not as strong as at St. George. The discussion continued long after the meeting ended.

At one point, a speaker asked who was pushing this park thing anyway? So I raised my hand and spoke up, identifying myself, and willing to speak of our hopes for a complete park -- but  the moderator cut me off and moved to the next local speaker on the list. This led later to conversation with Bernard Seegmiller of St. George; later we exchanged letters. His conclusion was that if there were a call to convert land policy from multiple uses to National Park, those who had used and modified it for grazing should be compensated. However, the voices he heard were not those of agribusiness corporations, but individual families with deep roots in the land and their way of life. Should they be forced out?
  In my reply, I spoke of the fascinating history of people trying to make a tough land produce; sometimes succeeding, sometimes not. I then discussed my idea of a "protective zone" that would allow a national recognition of the entire Grand Canyon, bar major destructive activities like dams & mines, and permit grazing & hunting. That idea, I said, did not go anywhere. I then raised the idea of paving the road from St. George to the Shivwits, which raised the tough point of wanting parks, while leaving them undeveloped. But perhaps the Shivwits would be a good place to introduce the public to the western Canyon. And I was as willing to accept that productive land should remain so as to promote special protection for the Canyon. Ending, I spoke of the courtesy I had experienced during my conversations that evening.

The "local stockmen" responded further in a letter by N. A. Jackson, in early Jan 1978, representing 70 families running 34 operations, who lived in the Kanab-Fredonia and St George-Hurricane areas. They estimated 414 kac of grazing were involved, with developments worth $2.5 million, including fences, tanks & other waters, land railed &/or seeded, and buildings -- about $35,000 per family. About 4000 cattle and 2000 sheep would be lost, with the majority dependent for grazing year-round on the lands. The Park had been doubled in 1975. The letter then quoted the Interior Secretary as to why the Zone of Influence was not necessary. We agree the Forest Service and BLM should continue. We ask that the study be discontinued as a waste of funds since the lands are well administered and any change would damage 36 ranch operations with severe adverse economic impact on 70 families and their communities. 

The tri-agency study team made a few changes in the Task Directive. They cut 10k acres from the Lake Mead lands dropping the beak unfortunately, and re-drew the map to "emphasize" the rims inside the study area 

BLM added more words about its wilderness responsibility under their management Act of 1976. The Forest Service added descriptions of two recent laws, and noted that there were cultural resources in Kanab to be inventoried. The scope of the study was altered and now included the purpose of determining the appropriate agencies for the lands' administration. Instead of "determining whether any land qualifies as park", resources were to be evaluated and analyzed for multiple uses, socio-economic factors, and alternatives. The policies of the three agencies would be used as the basis for analysis, instead of just the NPS criteria. It would seem the NPS lead position was now modified to lead to a report more congenial to the other two agencies.
 An insert, May 1978 "Progress Report", summed up the impact of the workshops. It noted that they were well-attended, public interest was high, and opinions continued to be recorded. Multiple use was the main issue raised, with a "high degree of concern" expressed by special interest groups for sport hunting & grazing that their uses would be precluded from a park. The study team acknowledged that big game trophy hunting is an important use to be evaluated. Grazing is also very important in affecting the alternatives. Although the Conference Report stressed the Park values, the study team concluded that a more equitable concept would be a broader look at all resources & their management. The next step will be data accumulation. The directive was signed by the agencies, 5 May to 12 June, 1978.

A coda to this down-shift in emphasis and change in direction was offered in August when the cattle-grower associations met with the Utah-Arizona congressional delegations to oppose any more expansion. They submitted a list of reasons of the usual sort. Someone annotated them, hostilely, for Congressman Udall, who had not attended. Udall, told that NPS had said the study would be transmitted to Congress by October 1979,  just passed the info on to the Sierra Club office, since nothing was going to happen for a while. 

And, in public anyway, nothing did. 

Sources: Items in my files collected at the time. That is to say, I have not done any further research in agency or other archives that might fill out the story.
* Along with the excessive boundary, I did not think at the time, (but as I have described in an earlier post, 29 Sep 2009), that the precursors of these families, part of the LDS movement that started in New York State, and kept moving west, migrated south into southern Utah from around Salt Lake City, and took up the resources of the Arizona Strip that Southern Paiute bands had lived on for centuries. Displaced by having their water and food overrun, catching disease, being enslaved, or just confined to marginal small reservations, the Paiute had never had the opportunity these Mormon families were exercising in 1977 to stand up in a public hearing and air their grievances at being deprived of land and life. It is a bit of an irony indeed, to look over this testimony of how these residents of Utah have their roots in the grazing land they commandeered from the long-time residents during the XVIIIth century in northern Arizona.

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