Friday, July 22, 2016

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.

The presidential proclamation itself is dated 11 Jan 2000. I have included the text in the next entry. In summary, it started appropriately, citing the Antiquities Act’s “an array of scientific and historic objects”. The first page is geological details, almost entirely about the Canyon. The archeology runs from 9000 years ago to the Southern Paiute. Whitefolk history is comprised of 200 years of exploration, sawmills, ranches, mines. The biomes are extreme, stark desert to complex high plateaus, providing for distinctive and diverse floristic and animal life. 
   Again appropriately, the 1,014,000 acres are called the “smallest area” compatible with its proper care and management. [But truly, isnt the entire Canyon the “smallest area” compatible with the Canyon’s proper care?] Off road vehicle use is prohibited. Arizona manages fish & game. Valid rights excepted, all lands are withdrawn from the land laws, including mining. Land exchange is permitted. Sale of “vegetative material” is permitted only for restoration. Water rights are not affected. Management shall be a cooperative endeavor; however Lake Mead NRA will be under the primary jurisdiction of the Park Service. Grazing shall continue under existing laws & policies. 

Here is BLM’ s map:

and, just for fun, below I have drawn in, roughly, the Grand Canyon drainage divide. North and west of that line, the Monument drainage goes into Hoover dam’s reservoir west of the Grand Wash Cliffs, but not into the Grand Canyon. 

The accompanying “fact sheet” stressed that current management will continue, but “subject to the overriding purposes of protecting the (Monument’s) scientific and historic objects”. It linked historic events with this: “Congress enlarged the Park in 1975 (but) left open whether several drainages north of the Grand Canyon should be protected and directed that the Secretary of the Interior study and issue a report on these lands. Most of the studied lands are included within the monument.” Babbitt has made three trips to the lands, had two large public meetings, and over 59 meetings with locals, tribes, and others. Two alternative bills would lower protection. 

The proclamation was accompanied by a defense of the designation, based on interpreting the Antiquities Act. There is no mention of Babbitt’s original justification of protecting the Grand Canyon drainage. Also, a long section defends the notion of preserving areas large enough to maintain the monument’s objects and their interactions. Many species rely upon the entire area, it asserts, so protection of the aggregate area is necessary for their proper care. A fragmentation would endanger objects, undermine purposes, and impede effective management. (Really, this argument is self-defeating, since anyone familiar with the area knew that these arguments imply it should have been bigger, over to the Hurricane Cliffs, for instance. No details are offered to justify adding the westward facing Grand Wash Cliffs to the southward-oriented Grand Canyon drainage. But, sigh, for 50 years the Park Service has insisted that the northwestern section of the Canyon be administered by Lake Mead NRA out of Boulder City, Nevada. Logic of administration or the Canyon’s topography has often not been a factor in the Canyon’s history.)

In delineating the impact on existing uses, all was protected, but nevertheless, the explanation pointed out that if there were a need to protect monument resources from threat, “swift protective action” could be taken.

A news conference was held that day as well, with Babbitt offering some informal details about his decision-making. He tied the Canyon protective story to his own family’s background. He mentioned the Adjacent Lands Study of 1981, gathering “dust like most studies in my department, until it was rediscovered by a public lands archaeologist about a year ago.” He said, “The addition (is) within the drainage of the Grand Canyon.” — It’s where the Canyon begins on the north side; where the rain and snow move through the side canyons of the Colorado to join the river. His original idea, he said,  was an arbitrary boundary across the north side of Mt Trumbull over to the Nevada border and then connected up with Kaibab National Forest. But when he got out there, to his surprise, that line didnt make any sense; if we’re going to protect the Canyon, we had to protect the waters that create it, the watersheds that generate the waterfalls, the topography of the side canyons and the river. That means following out the drainage of canyons — Parashant, Andrus, Cottonwood Wash. “And you will see that the boundary reflects exactly that hydrographic and topographic divide.”  (My underline. This summary highlights a confusion over drainages. Parashant and Andrus drain into the Grand Canyon. Cottonwood Wash drains into the Colorado at Grand Wash west of the Grand Wash Cliffs, a different “hydrographic and topographic divide” the top of which ends the Grand Canyon drainage.)
Asked specifically about the Stump bill, Babbitt repeated the mantra about public meetings, mentioning his Counselor, Molly McUsic, and her knowledge of the Strip. “We’re not making it on the legislative front… As I testified, the bill reduces protection for the area. It encourages mining, and thats just a non-starter.” 

President Clinton had arrived at Grand Canyon National Park late Monday night, 10 Jan. News stories on the 11th & 12th wallowed in the “rekindled old antagonisms about Washington’s control …of Western land”, as the Arizona Republic put it. For anyone who had been tracking the issue, this was a mail-in performance by Arizona politicos & other Republicans. Or mail-out: Rep. Stump sent his complaint out on his own, but without refreshing his rant: unilateral, repeatedly ignored me, my bill protects, no immediate threat. CNN noted that Clinton took a helicopter and walking tour over the new Monument, then went to Hopi Point on the South Rim , although the Republic had the event over at Toroweap. (This was explained later: the signing was in Tuweep; a public announcement at Hopi Pt.) But most of its “report” was about opponents blasting or lamenting. Mayor Jordan of Fredonia felt helpless since she hoped to have input about their fears of “a hectic, tourist economy”, although the town was working to get its new visitor center open. Governor “praised” Clinton for burnishing his own legacy, but did not deign to attend in spite of Clinton’s welcome. Throwing in the towel, Stump’s mouthpiece said the action usurped any legislative opportunity, reinforcing the general opinion that the congressional delegation had little interest in spending time on such matters. Babbitt bragged about doubling the size of Grand Canyon National Park, misleading to say the least, since most of the new Monument is not part of the Canyon’s watershed that he prized, and the protections quite a bit less strong. The Republic’s parting shot was that the Monument is more part of Utah, with its ranchers, miners, and hunters, than Arizona.

The New York Times headlined the protection for thousands of acres, and described Clinton as sitting at a desk in the center of Tuweep Valley to sign the proclamations. Opponents were cited, but so also was a local poll (sponsored by environmental groups) showing 80% of Arizonans approving. The reporter was careful to note the president’s nonchalance on the helicopter flight, flipping through paperwork, and occasionally looking over his reading glasses at the rocks below.

But Clinton did recall he had first seen the Canyon at 24 on a cross-country trip, and even watched the sunset. And he used the sunrise that morning to celebrate his memories and those of millions & millions of Americans. He was interested and moved enough to joke with Secretary Babbitt about staying to ride horses. 

Calling it a “biological hotspot”, Geoff Barnard, president of the Grand Canyon Trust, celebrated “another superb example” of the Antiquities Act legacy of 17 U.S. Presidents. In the Trust press release, he said Babbitt’s original idea had been doubled at the urging of the Trust, the Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, Sierra Club, NRDC, NPCA, Wilderness Society, & SW Forest Alliance. The monument’s “boundaries follow the watershed protecting the westernmost tributaries of the Colorado River and the entire length of the Grand Wash Cliffs (which) mark the western extent of the Grand Canyon”, and provide a home for endangered species including condors and the desert tortoise, and protect a diverse array of floral & faunal species that may include several possibly rare or sensitive. Its “health is directly connected to the long-term health of the Grand Canyon.” Then, with misleading exaggeration, it ends by calling the covered lands previously  “unprotected”, vitally linked to the long-term health of the Grand Canyon, and, an untrue statement, recommended for addition to the Park by a pre-1975 multi-agency task force, an error repeated in an expanded treatment. That document also detailed the reasons why the Stump legislation would have been destructive.

The million-acre proposal justification was enumerated in a 1 Jan 2000 ecological assessment by the Wildlands Council supporting Monument designation. It listed nine characteristics for the 3 million acre Shivwits Plateau: 
1 a continentally significant boundary between Basin & Range and Colorado Plateau; 
2 paleologically, it shows vegetative responses to climate change over 50 millennia;
3 refuge for many endemic species;
4 refuge for sensitive game;
5 its two large north-south escarpments (Grand Wash & Hurricane Cliffs) may be a corridor for migratory raptors and others;
6 its value in landscape and wildlife restoration;
7 eight millennia of human occupation;
8 exploration and settlement history of over two centuries;
9 rarely visited and little developed character, and world-class scenery.

The arguments offered by the supporting groups emphasized wildlife: important habitat for desert bighorn, pronghorn, bear, cougar, mule deer, and the reintroduced condor. There were 23 faunal and 50 floral species listed as needed federal attention. The large carnivores were mentioned for their role in the area, shown on this Trust map: 

There were concerns about dramatically increased human use, and the value of remoteness for some of the region’s species. Habitats and movement corridors for wildlife would need protection. The Park is increasingly an island of protection; yet 12 vertebrate species were lost in the twentieth century. The expansion “is more likely to permanently safeguard the area’s wild character, ecological integrity, and protection of native species.
 Specifically, there were:
a wild corridor along the Grand Wash Cliffs, Shivwits Plateau, and Virgin Mtns linking the Strip to protected areas in Utah, giving continuity for movement of cougar, pronghorn, and desert bighorn;
an east-west connection from Mt Trumbull to Grand Wash;
roadless & wilderness study areas, designated Wilderness, and spring habitats;
links between high and low elevation habitats;
links between the Park area extending north into Utah.

A proper management plan, environmentalists said,November 9, 2000 would limit and close many of the roads and tracks, ban off-road use, mitigate grazing impacts on riparian and other sensitive soil areas, ban mining, promote restoration, prevent exotics, designate all wild areas as Wilderness, restrict visitor access and development to the current level or less. 

On 9 Nov 2000, Babbitt further saw the President recognize Arizona Strip values by designation of the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument (including the Paria Plateau-River complex), continuing protections started by a far-seeing state BLM Director in the 1960’s — Scenic Area, Wild Area, Wilderness, Monument;.This piece of geology, far-seen vistas, and remote recreation is firmly set as the eastern anchor of the magnificent stretch of the American West called the Arizona Strip. With, of course, the Grand Canyon as its incomparable southern climax.

Sources: From my files newspaper articles, notes on my contacts, official papers, my correspondence, pages from internet files from the Grand Canyon Trust, BLM, and others.

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