Monday, July 6, 2015

Havasupai Land Use Plan, Jan 1975 - Sep 1979, intro

P. L. 93-620 called for four specific studies. Three were carried out by the National Park Service:  1 Were certain plateau lands in the second Grand Canyon National Monument of suitable-enough Park quality to be kept in the Park?
2. Were lands adjacent to certain parts of the northern boundary of high enough Park quality to be considered for addition to the Park?
3. What lands inside the Park were eligible to be considered by Congress for inclusion in the National Wilderness System?

By 1976, 1981, and 1977 respectively, the Park Service had completed its work on these studies. From the point of view of protection and proper interpretation of the Grand Canyon, study 1, leaving significant lands in the Park, was a success. From that same point of view, the result of the second study was inadequate and lamed by the demands and constituencies of the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. However, as this history will later recount, the ghost of that study rose again almost 20 years later. The wilderness study was a model, completed on time and forwarding a maximum NPS recommendation to the President. Unfortunately, due to the lobbying by the owners of motor-based commercial river traffic companies, the study was never forwarded to Congress for its consideration. Wilderness status for lands in Grand Canyon National Park therefore remains a matter for Congress to take up. 

In addition, there are other land questions that in a more Park-benevolent world could be  discussed and resolved. One is the strange fate of Beaver Falls along Havasu Creek, intended by Congress, according to the legislative documents, to be included within the Park. However, due to ignorance by the USGS, Havasupai aggressiveness, and NPS passivity, Beaver Falls seems to have "fallen out" of the public hands of the Park and into the embrace of the Havasupai. 

Although the Beaver Falls item was not considered during the fourth study called for by P.L. 93-620, it certainly could have been, since that study, led by the Secretary of the Interior, was to prepare a comprehensive Land Use Plan for the lands added to the Havasupai Reservation in the 1975 Act (which might therefore have better been re-named the Grand Canyon National Park and Havasupai Reservation Enlargement Act). The Act had marked out two stretches of land: 1. some 195 kac of canyon and plateau, formerly in the National Park, Monument, and Forest, that were outright transferred in trust to the Havasupai; 2. a swath of the main Canyon of  about 95 kac running between the Colorado River and the new Reservation that were left in the Park but open to the Havasupai to use for "traditional" purposes. Here is the relevant part of the official map:

The Havasupai and the Bureau of Indian Affairs prepared, in a fairly direct way, the Secretarial Land Use Plan and its Environmental Impact Statement for the added lands. NPS at the Park worked less deliberately on guidelines it would apply to the lands left in the Park, but open to traditional uses. My files indicate that while Park advocates tried to be considered during the Land Use Plan preparation, we were definitely sideline observers. That is, most of the activity on decisions for the Plan was internal to the Havasupai and the BIA. Therefore, I thought I would prepare two entries for the Secretary Havasupai Land Use Plan, one what my files show about what I saw happening as an outsider, and another to describe the Plan itself.