Saturday, November 14, 2015

Grijalva introduces Grand Canyon protection bill with Grand Canyon Associated Tribes

U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva, Democrat of southern Arizona, has made another move dramatizing his long-term commitment to the Grand Canyon and its appropriate treatment. His approach is novel, yet antique, and full of up-to-date considerations. The current politics of the U.S. Congress does not bode well for the kind of action on the bill that we have seen in the past on Grand Canyon affairs, but by introducing the legislation, Congressman Grijalva has provided for discussion and debate.

The bill, H. R. 3882,  as introduced on 3 Nov 2015, can be seen here.

HR 3882 has the overall purpose: 
To designate the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument in the State of Arizona, and for other purposes”.

Its short title is Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument. Even shorter, GCNM the Fifth will also do, following in the more or less illustrious list of
Grand Canyon National Monument, 1908
Grand Canyon National Monument, 1932
Marble Canyon National Monument, 1969
Grand Canyon - Parashant National Monument, 2000.

So, hmmm — 1906, 1932, 1969, 2000, … ; every 30 years of so, a President grabs hold of his Antiquities Act pen and gathers another piece of the Canyon under Federal protection for the public good. I would guess Congressman Grijalva is looking for action a bit sooner than 2030.

Not just a simple declarative bill, it has several parts, not unusual in Grand Canyon affairs. The 10 sections are:

Sec. 1. Short title and table of contents.
Sec. 2. Definitions.
Sec. 3. Establishment of Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument, Arizona
Sec. 4. Management of Federal lands within the National Monument. 
Sec. 5. Development of management plan.
Sec. 6. Existing and historical uses of Federal lands included in monument.
Sec. 7. Acquisition of land.
Sec. 8. Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument Advisory Council. 
Sec. 9. Water.
Sec. 10. Withdrawal of Federal land from mining laws. 

What sets it apart from previous Grand Canyon actions is its mutual embrace of what the bill calls the ‘‘Grand Canyon-associated tribes’’. These Grand tribes (grand Tribes, maybe?) are 
“the Havasupai Tribe, the Hopi Tribe, Hualapai Indian Tribe, the Navajo Nation, Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, Las Vegas Tribe of Paiute, Moapa Band of Paiute Indians, San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe, Yavapai-Apache Nation, and the Zuni Tribe”. 
It is one of the oddities of Grand Canyon’s history that on the one hand, the Southern Paiute bands, 150 years ago having all of the northside of the Canyon (now called the Arizona Strip) as their territory, are now scattered in several unrelated pieces, only one of which is in the Canyon’s watershed. Moreover, the western part of their ancestral lands are next door in GCNM the 4th, the oddly named Grand Canyon - Parashant National Monument. Heres the map worked up by the Grand Canyon Trust; the 4th is not shown.

It has to be the fervent wish of all of us who think of ourselves as advocates for and friends of the Grand Canyon that the striking initiative of this bill is only one of many protective steps taken by the Canyon’s associated tribes, nations, bands; Peoples. 

A particular instance, and one that might have been recognized in the legislation, was the creation half a century ago by the Navajo Nation of its own Grand Canyon / Marble Canyon Tribal Park, followed by the Little Colorado Tribal Park south of it. 

Another step — more intended than honored — was taken in Senator Barry Goldwater’s 1975 Act that authorized and encouraged the Secretary of the Interior to make cooperative efforts with entities such as the associated tribes for the protection and public presentation of the Canyon. 

And for those of us worried about the integrity of the Canyon as a natural feature, cultural focus, and social-environmental icon, the actions of Navajo citizens and the statements of Navajo President Begaye against desecration of the Little Colorado confluence area are an exemplary step toward overall respect for the Canyon. Personally, I wish President Begaye had suggested assuring the Canyon’s integrity in this instance by having the bill recognize & protect the Confluence and the Canyon’s East, Navajo, Rim.

An indication of the political distance Grand Canyon legislation has travelled in 50 years can be seen in the bill conceived and introduced for the Sierra Club during the fight to keep the Canyon free of dams. The map with that bill was also drawn using the Canyon’s watershed as the guide, but in association with nobody. (See my post for 20 Apr 2012, “A Complete Park: I. Foundations, 1966”.) 

And as Secretary of the Interior, Bruce Babbitt used the concept of gathering in the watershed for the aforementioned 4th GCNM — in that case, the region west of Congressman Grijalva’s proposal. (For that story, see my post for 28 Oct 2012, “Reflections of a monument: My interview with Bruce Babbitt”.) For a more complete picture, here is a map I cobbled together of the 4th (Grand Canyon - Parashant) and proposed 5th (Greater Grand Canyon Heritage) National Monument — sorry about the trimming of the Hualapai lands. Oh, and just to keep the record a little straighter, I drew in a diagonal green line to show a watershed divide in GC-Parashant NM: the area northwest of that line drains over the Grand Wash Cliffs into Lake Mead, not into the Grand Canyon.

 Ok, with those details out of the way, lets see

Section 3 establishes the Monument with these two purposes:
  • (1) to preserve and, if necessary, restore the native, cultural, sacred lands, and key tribal resources, nationally significant biological, ecological, including wildlife connectivity, cultural, historical, recreational, geological, hydrological, education, scenic and scientific values found in the Greater Grand Canyon ecosystem and watershed, including above-ground tributaries, springs and interconnected groundwater that contribute significantly to the Colorado River; and
  • (2) to secure now and for future generations the opportunity to experience and enjoy the diverse tribal resources, landscape, wildlife, water flows, and recreational use of the lands included in the national monument.

These purposes are based on 10 findings, also worth quoting:

  • (1) The Greater Grand Canyon ecosystem and watershed contains various tribal sacred sites and resources, including religious places and burial sites, with significant ancestral and contemporary values to the Grand Canyon-associated tribes.
  • (2) The Grand Canyon-associated tribes have a longstanding historical, cultural and religious connection the Greater Grand Canyon ecosystem and watershed and should play an integral role, through collaboration and consultation, in the planning and ongoing management of the monument.
  • (3) The Grand Canyon-associated tribes have historically been stewards of the region, with obligations to care for the land that has provided for them since time immemorial, including natural and cultural resources such as ancestral sites, sacred places, plants, wildlife, water sources, and minerals, resulting in an accumulated body of traditional ecological knowledge that holds great potential for contributing to the sustainable and holistic management of the unique and fragile landscape.
  • (4) The surface tributaries and interconnected ground water of the Greater Grand Canyon ecosystem and watershed are the source for Native American sacred springs and falls, such as Havasupai Falls.
  • (5) The Greater Grand Canyon ecosystem and watershed in northern Arizona contains nationally significant biological, cultural, recreational, geological, educational, and scientific values.
  • (6) The Greater Grand Canyon ecosystem and watershed is integral to Grand Canyon National Park. The surface tributaries and groundwater sources within the watershed are interconnected and contribute significantly to the flow of the Colorado River, and provide a source of drinking water for millions of American citizens.
  • (7) The Greater Grand Canyon ecosystem and watershed contains a diverse array of canyons, cliffs, grasslands, springs, and escarpments that create a landscape unlike any other within America.
  • (8) Wildlife corridors within the Greater Grand Canyon ecosystem and watershed facilitate the migration and survival of many native game species while the rivers, forests, and grasslands provide habitat for many rare, threatened, and endangered species.
  • (9) The Greater Grand Canyon ecosystem and watershed provides a wild and rugged landscape enjoyed by hunters, campers, hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians, and other recreationists.
  • (10) Recreational activity within the watershed is the primary driver of sustainable economic development in local communities.

Maps and legal descriptions are to be prepared within two years, with the maps controlling any conflict.

Section 4 sets down the controlling management laws, specifically: 
the 1976 Federal Land Policy & Management Act for the public lands administered by BLM;
the 1974 Forest & Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act, and sec. 14 of the 1976 Forest Managment Act for the Kaibab National Forest lands;
the Wilderness Act, where it applies;
then, other applicable laws and regulations. Vague enough, but importantly, “If there is a conflict between a provision of this Act and a provision of another law specified … the more restrictive provision shall control”, and
“only such uses … as … would further the purposes” of this Act would be allowed, but
Indian, state, and private lands & rights are not affected; that is, only Federal lands in the Monument are under Secretarial authority. 

Section 5 orders a management plan be developed within three years, working with the advisory council defined below. The plan would identify uses and priorities, protect Indian sacred sites and access to them, provide for road restrictions necessary to protection and Indian Religious Freedom.
Further, it should protect the forest by retaining old and large trees, restoring natural fire, and maintaining at-risk species. And retain “naturally dark time conditions”.
If consistent with law, recreation would be provided for (listed are: “hunting, hiking, camping, mountain biking, birding, and horse-back riding”).

The associated tribes shall formally collaborate in plan development and monument management. The Secretaries may cooperate and fund agreements with Indian tribes for research, scientific analysis, conservation, and restoration. 

Public input shall be solicited, but the plan will be submitted to Congress before being made public.

Information from land studies, existing land use and resource provisions, and climate change shall be assessed. Wildlife corridors shall be preserved, and species migration facilitated.

Section 6 preserves State jurisdiction over fish and wildlife. The Secretary and the State may restrict hunting for tribal uses, public safety, or other legitimate purposes. 
Motorized & mechanized vehicles are restricted to designated ways.
Grazing shall be allowed to continue. 
There may be wildland fire operations and commercial recreation activities.
Hunting, trapping, fishing, and gathering are allowed.
Timber may be cut commercially if consistent with this Act and part of a restoration project. 

Section 7 authorizes acquisition of land from willing parties by various methods.

Section 8 orders an advisory council be set up within 6 months, which shall work on the management plan. It shall collaborate on (1) management of any tribe-related resources and (2) adaptive management of natural resources.

Membership, with 3-year terms.
Two representatives from each associated tribe, one the natural or cultural resource office. An academic in anthropology, archeology, or such, and another with natural or conservation resource expertise.

Two environmental NGO representatives, one from Arizona.
Two game and fish representatives, one from the State department.

So, 20 or so tribal reps, 2 academics, 2 environmentalists, 2 hunters; a quorum is 8. (As written, I must point out, there is no provision for non-wildlife-related recreationists, such as backpackers, canyoneers, river runners, longitudinal Canyonwalk dudes. And no one from the Park Service to encourage its cooperation. Nor, for that matter, any commercial interests.)

Section 9 says the Monument has absolutely no effect of any kind on water and rights to it.

Section 10 (getting to a major reason for the Act) withdraws land from being taken under the public land laws or being touched under any mining law.

Subject, no surprise, to existing valid rights.

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