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.