Friday, November 18, 2016

Wielding the 2x4: The Role Alternatives Play in Policy Conflict November 2016 A Part Two

This is a Part Two in the exploration of one aspect of ethical and existential issues that arise when we engage in conflict over public policy, and what consequences we are responsible for when our rhetoric is or seems determinative of ensuing events. In the first part, I offered (this blog 15 Nov 2016) a case study discussing the criticism that advocates of a dam-free Grand Canyon, in particular David Brower as the most public advocate, traded polluting coal-fired electric generating plants for a dam-free Canyon.

Reflecting on that post, I realized that a set of what: — ideas?, assumptions?, pre-conceptions?, biases? — undergirded my puzzlement that this criticism could even be entertained. Part of this, I suppose, is that my personal involvement in the particular conflict was strongly at odds with such a criticism, since advocating for coal-burning plants was not something we did. 

I also see that there is a way of acting in conflict, a way of gathering forces for battles over policy, that, obvious to me, may not be understood by those examining the conflict in later years. Here, I will try to make clear the larger context that makes alien, even irrelevant, the charge of a trade of an undammed Canyon for polluted skies.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Lies Float; The Truth, Too Heavy To Bear, Drowns; November 2016 A Part One

(Warning, this essay is a long, detailed, and cantankerous effort to “correct” several mis-recordings that have arisen in various tellings of the glorious fight to save the Grand Canyon from damming. No apologies, just a warning.)

An oft-repeated smear and lie is that advocates protecting the Grand Canyon in the 1960’s gave up the Southwest’s clean, blue skies in order to keep dams out of the Canyon’s deep, dark gorges. I propose here to present some of these smears (in black or a red-brown) and then offer correction and critique (in blue). The main line of the fantasied tale goes like this: 

The dams were planned to generate electric power to pump water for the Central Arizona Project, and to sell excess power to help pay for that CAP. But the people and government of the United States decided not to build the dams, so instead coal-fired electric stations — in particular one to be put up near Page and using coal from Black Mesa — had to be built to pump the CAP’s water and which would also pump clouds of smoke and gas and ash, rendering the skies over the Southwest, and especially the Grand Canyon, thick and brown with the burning coal’s residue, causing would-be viewers to turn away, gasping and choking for breath in the poison miasma.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Incarnating Grand Canyon National Monument the Fifth — But Minus Some Key Organs

A rumor is afloat that the administration of President Obama may consider using the Antiquities Act to proclaim a National Monument along the lines of the legislation introduced a year ago by Representative Raul Grijalva to establish a Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument (GGCHNM).

The first thing to say is that the action would do nothing to ease the threat from the development proposal (the Escalade, or better, “Phoenix Escapade”) aimed at the confluence of the Colorado & Little Colorado Rivers:  a development that would include buildings on the rim, a tramway down to the confluence, —where there would be walkways and structures in this now-natural and revered area—, and thousands and thousands of conveyor-belt tourists brought in by plane, helicopter, bus, etc. 

Nor does the Heritage proposal include any recognition of the Navajo Nation’s Marble Canyon & Little Colorado Tribal Parks, set up half a century ago, yet still ignored by the National Park Service and the Interior Department, even though the 1975 Park expansion act authorized cooperation between Interior and the Navajo on Grand Canyon protection and visitation, and even though these tribal parks and the 1975 Act together provide the framework for appropriate protection and interpretive visitation of the Canyon — a framework envisioned by Senator Barry Goldwater, principal sponsor of the 1975 Act.

This omission is the more astonishing since the purposes of the Grijalva bill (see my post of 14 Nov 2015 for details) are to embed the values of the eleven “Grand Canyon-associated tribes” in the policy and administration of the GGCHNM, purposes and policy that would be made tragic mockery of, should the Phoenix Escapade be approved by the Navajo, and built. 

(Note: Legislation to commit Navajo Nation approval and funding for the P. E. is even now working its way through the Navajo Council’s legislative process, in spite of Navajo President Begaye’s opposition and the submission of thousands and thousands of anti-P.E. statements.)

The main resource change in Grijalva’s proposal would be ending the threat of new mining activity (esp. uranium exploitation) on federal lands in the vicinity of the eastern Canyon, although existing mines and other existing rights would not be affected.
Timber may be cut commercially only if consistent with GGCHNM purposes and part of a restoration project.

So how would such a creation work? Existing laws and management (Forest Service and BLM, mainly) would continue, and — an important addition — the 11 associated tribes would formally collaborate in plan development and monument management. For instance, although this might not be part of an Antiquities Act proclamation, the proposed law sets up an advisory council to work on the management plan, collaborating on management of any tribe-related resources and adaptive management of natural resources. 
There would be two representatives from each associated tribe, one from the natural or cultural resource office. There would be two academics: one in anthropology, archeology, or such, and another with natural or conservation resource expertise. Also, two game and fish representatives, one from the State department, and two environmental NGO representatives, one from Arizona. No provision for non-wildlife-related recreationists, such as backpackers, canyoneers, river runners, longitudinal Canyonwalk dudes, etc. And no one from the Park Service to encourage its cooperation. Nor, for that matter, any commercial interests.

Thus the proposal paradoxically would increase the say in Grand Canyon affairs of the Associated Tribes without offering any additional protections for the lands of the Navajo, Havasupai, and Hualapai. All three nations include parts of the Canyon, involving active issues of Grand Canyon protection, public access and uses, and the general presentation of the Canyon so as to further its uncontested status as a global environmental icon. There is little in the recent history of cooperation by anybody with anybody else to indicate that the goals of such a Monument would be carried out. Should President Obama take the action, and should Congress provide funds for such an entity, it would indeed be a grand experiment in a kind of regional government the Canyon has seen little of.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Revisiting — Revising — the Western Boundary (Segments G & H)

As I have written previously, when we were making decisions about how the boundary of the expanded Grand Canyon National Park should run, we did so without going out on the ground, or even, though they were available, using the 1971 7.5’ USGS topos. 
As a result, the Park boundary actually goes out beyond the proper extent of the Canyon as indicated by the drainage topography and the geologic indicators according to the 1982 Huntoon-Billingsley  geologic map. Here is the west end of the official map of the 1975 Expansion Act:

The geology shows only three remaining outcrops — circled in blue below — of pre-Cambrian Muav over Bright Angel, two on the north side, one on the south, of the channel where it bends west at the 277-mile mark.* No more show up downstream. 

Using those indicators for the Canyon boundary channel crossing neatly ties right into the sharp downward course of the top ridge of the Grand Wash Cliffs on the south side (left bank ) of the Colorado channel, as shown by the blue line below. (Note the blue 277 mile dots.)

So the only real difficulty in boundary definition, had we done our homework in the late 1960’s and into 1973, would be delineating on the north side (right bank) a course up the lower Grand Wash Cliffs such that the small drainages between Pearce Canyon and the Grand Canyon would be correctly assigned between being in the Canyon’s watershed and, further north, to the Pearce and other Lake Mead drainages. Above, the beginning of that line is shown running east-west.

Once that drainage-defined line reaches the level of the Sanup Plateau, this Google terrain map shows a quite level surface running east-west, with most of that shallow drainage to the north away from the Grand Canyon, until the line reaches Fort Garrett Point, where the dividing line climbs, up to the final level, the Shivwits Plateau.

Taking all these matters into account, and choosing the best path I can, the red crosses approximate the location of the Grand Canyon’s western line, in particular north of the Colorado and over to Fort Garrett Point. The blue line is (approx.) the northside boundary in the 1975 Park Expansion Act.

*The topo & geologic maps put the label “Lower Granite Gorge” extending downstream beyond this 277-mile point, though there is no sign of it. The waters and silts of Lake Mead may cover some pre-Cambrian granitics, and if so, this label hangs around on maps as a reminder of the pre-Anthropocene geologic era.

Sources: Geologic Map of the Lower Granite Gorge and Vicinity, Western Grand Canyon, Arizona, 1982 edn.,
Peter W. Huntoon, George H. Billingsley, Jr. assistant M. D. Clark
USGS, 7.5’ topos, Columbine Falls & Snap Canyon West, Arizona

Terrain Map by Google

Friday, July 22, 2016

GCNM 4 The Proclamation, Jan 2000

The full text of the Proclamation follows:

GCNM 4 Arrival, 2000

USA Today jumped ahead, in an article on 7 Jan 2000: “Decree to protect rugged Ariz. land”, behind a front page: “Arizona land will be preserved”, with a photo — cliffs and chasms, the Canyon’s watershed would be protected. Action is opposed due to fears of tourists despoiling and grazing being prohibited. No immediate threats, but set aside to prevent any. The protection of huge, largely roadless chunk brings joy to environmentalists and outrage from Congress. Many streams feed into Canyon, so need to protect area to north. Wilderness Society “could not be more pleased”. Utah’s Hansen: peaceful land will be threatened by attracting tourists.
Many more words would be spieled, but there was the essence.

GCNM 4 Waiting, 1999

This part of the story follows two paths. The first sums up the mysteries surrounding how the original Grand Canyon watershed idea was doubled and conceptually transformed. The second recounts the Arizona delegation’s retrograde, and futile, effort to derail an Antiquities Act creation of a Monument.


There was Babbitt’s watershed concept, which he would reiterate over the years. There was a wildlife/habitat concept, twice the size of Babbitt’s, originated and lobbied for by Arizona-based environmental groups. By what chain of decision-making did the first get replaced by the second?

GCNM 4 The Secretary Listens, 1999

Secretary Babbitt had a concept of a Grand Canyon watershed as the foundation for further protective designation of the northwestern Grand Canyon. The area was overwhelmingly under Interior jurisdiction, in either Lake Mead National Recreation Area or public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management. The set-up was prime ground for a presidential Antiquities Act proclamation. Nevertheless, rather than act first and then listen to the outrage, Babbitt chose to make his plan public in a preliminary way, thus providing the opportunity for public officials and the citizenry to offer up their views and alternative ways to proceed. 

GCNM 4 Opening Moves, 1998

1998: Before the News

Having the time to become once again involved in matters affecting the Grand Canyon, In 1998, I attempted to grasp the threads of affairs I had dropped 16 years before, even though few of the players I had known were still around. Particularly with respect to the park-worthy areas of the Canyon’s north side, the issues unresolved in the early ’80’s were handles I could grab in seeking to learn about a  new status quo.

I wrote letters to agency heads, sought conversation with them and with active environmentalists, and planned reconnoitering trips, particularly to the Arizona Strip. My timing on the latter was fortuitous, since as I was traveling, Secretary Babbitt was putting together, at his much higher level, his ideas about more Antiquities Act actions. Of course, I had no knowledge of his moves, and the Arizona Strip BLM staff that I interviewed said nothing. Unlike my efforts in the 1970’s, I was now an unfamiliar inquirer with no organizational connections. 

GCNM 4 The Secretary’s View, 1998-2000

Prelude: Back to Life

It was my good fortune to visit the northwestern segments of the Canyon early after my Western migration. From Toroweap westward to the Shivwits Plateau, from the rim to, and along, the river, I learned what a wonderfully varied landscape it was. When the time came, in the mid-1970’s, to change the Park boundaries, I was hopeful that this region would take its appropriate & logical place in a complete Grand Canyon National Park. Good news; bad news. 

GCNM 4 Better called the Grand Confusion — 1998-2000

The Fourth Grand Canyon National Monument — better called the Grand Confusion — 1998-2000

Having gone through the materials I have on the creation of the Grand Canyon - Parashant national Monument in 2000, and then gone through them again, one thing seems clear: born perhaps in confusion, it certainly went through changes and phases that at the end brought a product that, in terms of its original conception, does not make sense. Let me see if I can tell the story…straight. 

Reflections Of A Monument; My Interview With Bruce Babbitt

Reader beware. I recorded my September 27, 2012, interview with former (1993-2001) Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, and then transcribed it. This post is that material, gathered into topics. My goal was to produce his words, smoothed, ordered, and connected for reading purposes, but trying to keep his voice. I did not use quotation marks or paraphrasing. 

My main focus was his personal role in, and reflections on, the establishment of the Grand Canyon - Parashant National Monument (the fourth for the Canyon). What I like about this material is that it became a mini-essay on governance in a society in which openness and participation are central values. When "I" is used, that is Babbitt in smoothed quote. Material in parentheses is explanation or bridging for smoothness. In an exchange, B is for B.Babbitt, J for me.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Short History of the Origin of a Short-lived Monument, Marble Canyon, 1964-9

The story of Marble Canyon National Monument is a facet of one aspect of the mid-1960’s conflict over whether to build dam(s) in the Grand Canyon. (Pieces of this story are in other blog entries, e.g. Dams, The Navajo Boundary, but the material in the Stewart Udall archives makes it worthwhile to bring the pieces together.)
That aspect was the effort by the Arizona Power Authority (APA) to gain a license to build and operate a state, as opposed to a federal, hydroelectric dam in the reach of the Grand Canyon upstream from the northern boundary of the National Park. The federal plans were on hold through the 1950’s until 1964 due to a legal contest between Arizona and California over Colorado River water rights. This contest included a hold on federal Reclamation development in Arizona involving the dams and the Central Arizona and other projects. Some Arizona politicians, disgusted at this delay in federal activity, decided to bring about River development using state agencies, notably by the APA pursuing a state-funded dam in Marble.

Friday, May 20, 2016

2016: A Grand 50th in My 80th

Well, so, my 80th year seems like one of those special times to reflect and project. This year, moreover, is the 50th anniversary of immensely significant events in the Grand Canyon’s political history, and in my involvement with it, as a place for exploration and adventure and as a locus of learning about and attempting to influence the American political landscape. 
  1966. A splendid year. For me; for the Grand Canyon. A year of beginnings, of promise.
  2016. A year for remembering, yes, but also with promise. The Canyon is asking more of us.

        ======    THE DAMS
Fifty years ago, building two hydroelectric dams in the Grand Canyon, the major step in its industrialization, was a cresting dream for many in the West and the U.S. From the beginning of the XXth century, schemes and plans and research had been aimed at emplacing concrete plugs & holes in stairsteps along the Colorado River to extract every possible kilowatt. One dreamer’s map:

The federal government, through the Bureau of Reclamation, was ready by the end of World War II to proceed. Rivalry over control of the Colorado’s waterflows plus complications in Reclamation’s legal arrangements stalled construction for 20 years. By the mid-1960’s, when the dams’ true believers were again ready, the U.S. had changed, politically and in our burgeoning understanding that a healthy people and a healthy economy require a healthy environment to flourish.

Friday, April 1, 2016

A Grand 50th Birthday — No Joke!

Though off by one day — for it was on March 31, 1966, that Representatives Saylor, Reuss, & Dingell introduced the very first bill in history to create a COMPLETE (sic) Grand Canyon National Park. 

My post of 20 April 2012 gives the details, but in recognition of that birthday, here is some context. The first such proposal was in 1910, spear-headed by F. Dellenbaugh. In 1963, the Sierra Club called for extending the Park from Lees Ferry to Grand Wash Cliffs, and reiterated that position in 1964. No legislation was prepared, however.

In February 1966, the middle of the fight over the dams, then Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall suggested to (needled?) Bill Zimmerman, Club DC Representative, that the Club should do something positive about a dam-opposing Park expansion. And meanwhile, on our own, Dave Brower, Martin Litton, & I were cobbling together a proposal that, odd as it looked, tried to deal with the patchwork of land jurisdictions, and still create a Park that took in the entire length plus significant plateau land and side canyons — a Grand Canyon watershed, if you will, although in topographic fact, of course it was not, as no proposal can ever be (think Little Colorado River!!)

The map of that 50-year infant is here.

As a teen-ager, the concept behind that map was the foundation for our 1970’s effort to expand the National Park significantly, though that effort was thwarted by hunters fearful of losing game land.

The watershed idea sparked Interior Secretary Babbitt in 1998-2000 to sponsor what is now called, for no good reason, the Grand Canyon - Parashant National Monument (fourth in the series).

And currently, much of the eastern portion of the Canyon region is the subject of proposals and legislation by Representative Raul Grijalva and a collection of environmental groups. 

What all this will work out to over the coming years (decades?) is not predictable, but one thing is sure: The Grand Canyon continues, as it has since the 1880’s, to inspire those who revere this earth that nourishes and supports us, and who wish to honor the Canyon for the environmental icon that it, perforce, is.

Happy Birthday — and we are not just fooling around. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Out of Fight, Out of Mind: How We Keep Mislaying the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon has the wonderful charisma that the first view each of its visitors has is so beyond expectation that it is the opposite of deja vu: That first time is like nobody had ever seen anything like this before. 

Over more visits, we may become comfortable with the Canyon’s ability to strike awe, even as we learn more and more about just how far-reaching the Canyon is — geographically & chronologically extensive, and spiritually intensive.

The urge to reach out, explore, and re-visit grows. That urge may transmute into a desire to celebrate the Canyon, to introduce others to it, to cherish & protect it even as it nourishes our  sense that our Earth is a generous home.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

BMP & DEIS: Comment on Park Access Across the Havasupai Reservation Addition

Comment on Grand Canyon National Park Backcountry Management Plan, 
with respect to Access to the Park Across the Addition to the Havasupai Reservation
January 15, 2016

Jeffrey Ingram        
Tucson, Arizona
In passing the 1975 Grand Canyon National Park Enlargement Act, Congress created a singular ownership/management arrangement for the south side of the central portion of the Grand Canyon (river miles 116.5 to 164.5). Subject to fierce debate, capping a near century-long struggle by the Havasupai, the 1975 Act mandated a complex compromise of the desires of National Park advocates and the Havasupai, an arrangement that envisioned a permanent relationship between the Havasupai, the National Park Service, both under the aegis of the Secretary of the Interior, and the public.

The compromise recognized: 
the 1882 Havasupai Reservation; 
a 185,000-acre addition to that Reservation; 
to the north and east of the addition, the National Park; 
and between the Reservation addition and the Colorado River, a 95,300-acre zoning of the Park labelled the Havasupai Use Lands, which parkland the Havasupai were permitted to use for “grazing and other traditional purposes”, subject to Secretarial “reasonable regulations” to protect the lands’ scenic, natural, and wildlife values. The reasonable regulations covering the Havasupai Use Lands were worked on between Park Service and the Havasupai in the late 1970’s, resulting in a Memorandum of Understanding referred to in the BMP as being finalized on 20 Sep 1982.
  The boundary between the Reservation addition and the Use Lands in the Park was set by the 1975 Act to be ¼-mile back from the outer gorge rim, roughly paralleling the course of the Colorado.

The addition was made subject to seven provisions; these three are pertinent:
  (7) except for uses specified in the Act, the addition was to remain “forever wild”;
  (4) the Secretary, in consultation with the Havasupai, was to develop a Land Use Plan which shall not be inconsistent with, or detract from, park uses and values. This plan was to be subject to public review and hearings, and submission to Congress. Any plan revisions shall be subject to the same procedures. (The Secretarial Land Use Plan was effective January 1982; it has not been revised.)
  (6) In order to visit Park land adjacent to the addition, nonmembers of the tribe shall be permitted to have access across the addition at locations established by the Secretary in consultation with the Tribal Council; 
  (6) A second part of this provision, applying only to the addition, says that with the consent of the tribe, nonmembers may be permitted to enter and temporarily utilize for recreation purposes addition lands in accordance with the approved Secretarial land use plan. This provision does NOT affect lands in, or use of, any part of the Park; it was included to remove any doubt that the Havasupai could provide remunerated recreation services for visitors on their addition. This provision is not involved in any determination of  park uses covered by the Park’s Backcountry Plan.

BMP DEIS is wrong: Beaver Falls is in the Park, not the Havasupai Reservation

Comment on Grand Canyon National Park Backcountry Management Plan, 
with respect to error in DEIS on Havasupai Reservation boundary  
January 1, 2016

Jeffrey Ingram        
Tucson, Arizona

On page 188 of the DEIS for the proposed Grand Canyon National Park BMP, the following paragraph appears under the general headings “Adjacent Lands”,  “Tribal Lands” (my underlining):

Havasupai Reservation 
The 188,077-acre Havasupai Reservation is located within, and along the rim of, Grand Canyon. The reservation is most commonly accessed via Route 66 and Indian Road 18 to Hualapai Hilltop. The reservation can also be reached by Forest Road 328 which departs Highway 64 near between Tusayan and the park’s South Entrance Station. The reservation can also be reached from the river by hiking up Havasu Canyon approximately four miles. Day hikers often venture onto tribal land to enjoy Havasu Creek’s spectacular waterfalls, although the hike is a relatively long one: eight miles round-trip to Beaver Falls, 12 miles round-trip to Mooney Falls, 14 miles round-trip to Havasu Falls, and 18 miles round-trip to Supai village. A permit and associated fee is required to access Havasupai tribal land. As resources allow, the tribe stations personnel at reservation boundaries to ensure compliance, and NPS personnel inform park visitors of the required fee. Camping within the reservation is permitted only in designated campgrounds. 
The implication of the underlined portions of this NPS-composed description of the “Havasupai Reservation” is that Beaver Falls is inside and part of that Reservation.

It is not.

Beaver Falls was retained by name within the National Park when the Reservation was enlarged by the 1975 Grand Canyon National Park Enlargement Act, P.L. 93-620.

Beaver Falls is explicitly part of Grand Canyon National Park; it is not Havasupai land, and they have no power to issue permits or charge fees for a visit to Beaver Falls coming upstream.

Amazingly, An Updated Park Service Plan for Managing GCNP Wilderness — oops, Backcountry


The NPS administration at Grand Canyon National Park has published an updated Back-Country Management Plan (BMP) with its Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The documents are available now, during the public comment period, here. The comment period runs until the 4th of March, and the website has links to the summary and to the full DEIS, as well as to the page where the public can send in comments. 

The 25-year (and more) period with no updated BMP included a tangle of political and administrative actions, misfires, and egos. A devoted reader can get a sketch of events by checking out the Index references in my Hijacking A River: A Political History of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. (See

Needless to say the years since the Park boundary was expanded in 1975 have seen many changes in the amount and character of Canyon visitation. The BMP, for instance, deals with hiking along the Canyon by hopping on and off boat trips, canyoneering, and speed-tripping across the Canyon. There are thousands more experienced individuals now who feel they have a stake in and a sound basis for commenting on the rules NPS wants to promulgate to guide backcountry users’ impact on the Canyon.