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
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.