The legislative arena, battlefield, in 1967 was ready to be given a radically different appearance from the year before. In 1966, Aspinall and the House protagonists were given the opportunity to craft a Basin-wide accord. They did, but the time it took and the formidable opposition brought out as a result, doomed the effort, dependent as it was on passing the House with every detail in place no matter how far-fetched.
The lessons from that experience learned, the administration and the Senate reconfigured the landscape with initiatives that broke with Basin accords while satisfying the major opponents the 1966 effort had revealed—the Pacific Northwest and advocates for a damless Grand Canyon. It cannot be stressed enough that the particular players—Sec. Udall, and Senators Hayden, Jackson, Anderson—disposed of the power necessary to make this reconfiguration work. With a different Interior Secretary, without the seniority and position of those three Senators, California and Colorado would have been more formidable proponents of the Aspinall-Basin House approach.
If my contention is correct that this contest was a hinge moving America between very different futures, then those four individuals were key in directing the forces that prevailed.
Many papers carried news from the Senate hearings before its Interior Committee’s (Jackson, chair) Water and Power Resources (Reclamation) Subcommittee (Anderson, chair) in the first week of May (3-6). The main target was Secretary Udall, the main attackers Allott of Colorado and Kuchel of California.
Denver’s Post: featured Allott’s feistiness — an ingredient in the “atmosphere of tension”— , quoting him: This river is “the most controversial body of water in the Western Hemisphere if not the world”. A nature reflected in the multiplicity of bills that presented a “shattering of the hard-fought unity” of 1966. Hayden’s Arizona bill, backed by Sen. Fannin and Gov. Williams, was a “radical departure from reclamation practice”, replacing dams with a pre-purchase of pumping power. Allott attacked Udall for his “about-face” from a regional plan. He would not support any bill that lacks a water import study and Hualapai dam. Kuchel agreed, having “never heard a more lucid statement”. The Utah senators joined in.
Tucson Daily Star led with Udall’s support of the Hayden bill, which found “immediate” opposition from Allott and Utah’s Moss. Udall called the pre-payment idea “novel and unprecedented — part of a flexible and dynamic reclamation program”. Our position, he said, represents what is possible, and removes the most controversial feature of the failed 1966 bill. The central problem is to get water into central Arizona, as testified to in Hayden’s statement.
Denver’s RMN featured Allott attacking Udall and pushing his bill, that, like Aspinall’s, called for Hualapai dam along with Park boundary changes.
Arizona Republic’s Cole got the best quote: Udall saying, “Hualapai Dam is a gun pointed at the Columbia River”. Unnecessary for the CAP, its power revenues would just be used for importing water from the Northwest. Northwest senators commended this position. Questioned by Kuchel about the change from a regional plan, Udall stressed the controversy over the dam and the lack of need for it. [We were surely there; were we (silently) applauding?] Hayden, also a subcommittee member, said all aspects of the water issue had been considered, and it was time to get water to Arizona. Udall praised Hayden, in his 90th year, as always supportive of legislation benefitting others.
The Sentinel unsurprisingly headlined the mutual support of California and Colorado, including for the five projects pushed by Aspinall, as well as Hualapai dam, and use of northern California water down south. The Arizonans had declined to support a guarantee for California’s share of the Colorado. There was a quaint echo of past glories when a “conservationist” from the old days allowed as how his group was “not in favor of Hualapai dam at this time”. [Just the kind of temporizing statement that we “extremists” detested.]
Salt Lake’s Tribune featured Utah lining up with Colorado and California, fearful of Arizona getting water when Utah might run dry. Wyoming went further, saying any water for Arizona “is not theirs to give”.
The Goss Plan to beef up Hualapai dam was presented on the second day. The Californian plea for a guarantee was contested by both Arizona senators.
4 May, RMN featured Allott: “Raps Udall”, who had had a “blackout of foresight” and had adopted a “one-state approach” that wont even solve Arizona’s problems. Hualapai dam is essential if there is to be any overall plan, as Udall had previously advocated. The dam “is nothing but a down payment on the Columbia”, replied Udall “angrily”. Kuchel retorted he would “be ashamed” of such a statement. Allott went on to charge that the pre-payment plan put the federal government in the thermal powerplant business. And Kuchel doubted that paying for power ahead of time was in the public interest.
Another Denver Post report featured Hayden’s argument against the California guarantee — a perpetual burden on Arizona and the rest of the Basin— and Californian Ely’s reply that his state would have to cut its current use of 5.1 milllion acre-feet by over 15% and more if the CAP were to come into operation without imported water.
The Republic replied with Hayden & Fannin claiming California was trying to wipe out Arizona’s victory in court, saying Arizona would be the one state to give up its share. Cole also reported that Senator Jackson “severely questioned” the Goss Plan as resulting in an over-capacity of power. Goss’ reply was that it should not be built unless all its output was contracted for. His idea of conditionally authorizing a Goss-dam study was scoffed at by Jackson as impractical.
Farmington Times carried more of the dam debate, with Allott chiding Udall for ignoring the Goss Plan, which his bill would encourage. He worried Udall’s approach would never lead to the solution of the Basin water shortage. Udall said the water for the thermal plant cooling would come from Arizona’s upper Basin share and that he was sorry the Navajo had not developed their Lake Powell recreational sites. Udall also doubted a dam would receive congressional approval, and if it did, the president might veto it—let the National Water Commission study that, and how to use revenues from existing dams — [Again, surely we were smiling to see our 1966 arguments picked up.] — particularly given the low price Californians pays for Hoover dam power. Udall also attacked the Goss Plan as a last minute idea “pulled out of the hat” that was infeasible because there was no market for so much peaking power, and might not be until 1980. Udall was optimistic about weather modification, and did not expect to see inter-basin water import in his lifetime. [Got that right, and he lived 42 more years.] During the contentious session, there was agreement by all that the obligation to furnish Mexico with water should be a national, not just a Colorado Basin, obligation.
4 May, Sentinel featured a Sierra Club member’s proposal to convert existing dams to pumped storage and extend the Park to preclude dam construction in the Grand Canyon. This would end any attempt, as Goss proposed, by Los Angeles to seek permission Hualapai on its own.
4 May Republic editorialized in favor of Hayden’s plea to get the CAP built and not get bogged down in extraneous issues.
5 May Republic noted Aspinall’s plea for more money to be appropriated for Reclamation projects.
5 May Republic’s Cole wrote up Sierra Club testimony in favor of using existing dam revenues to help pay out the CAP. Even without a prepayment plan, this would remove the need for money from new dam revenues. [This was just an updating of our May 1966 testimony.] Kuchel noted the Club “has got a lot of muscle”, and gave Brower the opportunity to state again any dam would be unacceptable.
New Mexico testified it was willing to wait for new water to get its larger share of Gila River water.
5 May Sentinel reported the Colorado state position for import and its five projects. The governor rejected the idea of Hualapai dam being a gun for import; he just wanted studies and planning. Anderson urged Colorado not to be too inflexible in its opposition to the Senate bills.
A Denver conservationist opposed the Colorado five as well as the Grand Canyon dams.
5 May AP sent out a story that Senator Case of New Jersey had introduced his bill to put all of the Grand Canyon in the National Park. Until all is protected, it will remain in jeopardy, he said. Only a third of the Canyon is now in the Park. “its highest and best use is to keep it undammed, undemeaned and undiminished”.
6 May, Republic carried Hayden’s statement of optimism that a CAP authorization would pass the Senate this year. Nothing new, startling, or impossible of resolution has come up, he said.
6 May, Sentinel noted Allott’s anger at the Sierra Club, calling for a probe of its lobbying. He had been most active in trying to counter Club testimony. [I remember him questioning what exactly I was an expert of.] He has fumed for some time over the preservationist viewpoint. He questioned nuclear engineer Moss, seeking to show he was a Club lobbyist. Allott resented persons backed by the Club and “unqualified by experience” making “broad sweeping statements adverse to a large area of the country”. [Ungenerous at best, Allott was in his last term.] The article went on to review the IRS attack (arguably instrumental in helping defeat the dams in 1966), and Brower’s internal Club situation.
Northwestern officials objected to hasty water augmentation studies.
7 May Salt Lake Tribune editorialized about the Colorado being water-short: “height of insanity to authorize an enormously expensive and complicated (CAP) without absolute asssurance that more water for the basin is obtainable.”
7 May Republic analysis by B.Cole casting doubt on how the CAP is going to “survive all the brickbats and dead cats flung its way”. California wont play without its 4.4 maf. Upper Basin wants a dam and import. No import, says the Northwest. “Sierra Club is planning to move to Mars if anyone even looks slantwise at the Grand Canyon.” Udall has unhitched himself from any Canyon dam. All very grim, except for Hayden’s assurance. And Aspinall has only a “gambler’s chance” to get a dam and import — “birdwatching Rep. Saylor chuckles over Aspiinall’s anxieties”, since he believes his no-dam, no-import will substitute for Aspinall’s bill. So we are confused, and glad to have a state plan in the drawer.
7 May 1967, Arizona Republic “Sunday” section
“Grand Canyon is becoming THE WORLD’S GREATEST SHOOT-THE-CHUTE”
by Wayne Amos (no i.d. in article)
[I summarize salient parts of this article because it is a contemporary view—knowledgeable and sophisticated— of a hinge moment for river running in the Grand Canyon: The number of travelers had started to double each season. Concession contracts did not exist yet — a kind of permit system was in place. There were half the number of commercial trip operators (10) as there would be in 1972. There was virtually no environmental regulation or consciousness. Jurisdiction over river traffic was not unified (split up among six entities) although NPS at GCNP exerted de facto jurisdiction. That agency imposed harsh barriers based on fear and ignorance against people wishing to “shoot-the-chute” without paying for a seat on a commercial operator’s boat.
So this article is a window onto an early part of the history I recount (and which Tom Martin is now expanding with further research and publication) in Hijacking A River: A political history of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.]
Amos starts off noting that 10 years ago, 95 people total had taken the river trip through the Canyon. In 1966, 1067 had gone (doubled from 1965), a figure to go over 2000 in ’67. Two things were responsible: Word is spreading like a “chain letter” about “the greatest thrill in the world”. Second reason: commercial operators are “springing up”, most started by boatmen-guides or persons who “grew up in river running families”. [Still true — the families maintain their dead-hand oligopoly fossilized by the politically imposed arrangement of 1980.]
Ten companies get permits to take people for pay. “Rules are so strict that only three or four private parties a year can meet regulations.”(my bold) This according to GCNP’s ass’t chief ranger Frank Betts.
Another, “controversial”, reason is that Glen Canyon dam spaces water flow throughout the year, even as it causes “almost constant fluctuations” daily. Season is limited by weather; few want to go in winter [the more fool they, I say]. But the dam eliminated “the greatest rapture of all for old-timers”: going down on rain-driven torrents of more than 100,000 cfs. On the other hand, when the river was low, many rapids were “ rock-strewn barriers”.
Trips started in March this year and will continue into November, taking 10-16 days each, some leaving the trip at Phantom, though most go all the way. Eight operators use “neoprene pontoon-type boats (brought out during WWII …) powered by outboard motors”. “Woman of the river” Georgie White has taken the most people through and uses 3 pontoon boats lashed together; this “Goliath” — “the Queen Mary”— carries 40-50, and is steered by one center motor. Amos describes going over rapids in this as “riding on the back of a mad caterpillar racing over a forest of twigs”.
Harris-Brennan operates fiberglass power boats as well. Gaylord Staveley uses only oars in his 16’ cataract boats, with 2-3 passengers. He is converting these from wood to aluminum this year. “Gay’s trip is known flatteringly as the snob run.” He takes about 12, spends 16 days, and charges considerably more [$900 in ’67; equals $6800 in today’s dollars. Now his company runs motor trips: 7 days for $2700]. “Gay inherited his row boats from his father-in-law, Norman Nevills, who took the first paying passenger in 1938. “This is not only the historic way to go but one gets more of the feel of the river, Staveley points out. And of course there is no noise to shatter the peace in the quiet stretches.” However, the rowing boats have to be lined through 3-6 rapids. There are occasional spills; Amos recounts one from the 1965 Goldwater trip.
“Incidentally there have been no serious accidents since NPS began enforcing safety rules in 1961.” And “incidentally, river runners used to bury their camping debris in the sand. Now, under a new arrangement with the Park Service, they carry everything, tin cans and all, to the journey’s end.” [In fact, this “new arrangement” took another ten+ years to become the norm.]
Amos devotes four paragraphs to the Sanderson brothers. The Hatch brothers have taken famous people and do trips outside the U.S. A Phoenix attorney filled out the article with his “impressions” from a Hatch trip. There are several well-reproduced color photos — with motor rafts.
“Still, river runners form a pretty exclusive club compared with the almost 2 million rim visitors.”
The operators listed are:
G.White (Calif), Harris-Brennan (Utah), Smith’s Grand Canyon Expeditions (Utah), Staveley’s Mexican Hat (Ariz), Currey’s Western Rivers (Utah), Sanderson (Ariz), Elliott (Calif), Hatch (Utah), Cross (Utah), White Water River (Calif).
[Nothing is said about getting a permit on one’s own.]
8 May, Post carries the story about Senator Case’s introduction of a “complete” Grand Canyon National Park bill.
8 May, N Y Times calls Sierra Club “Undaunted by IRS”. The Club has gained 10,000 new members [on a base of about 40,000] and while losing some contributions, gained from new members, and larger donors. The Board of Directors gave no indication of changing direction.
11 May Sentinel ran the optimistic Sec. Udall prediction that there would be legislation, this time in Denver. He spoke of compromise and flexibility, and wanted Congress to get busy.
11 May, from Oregon, a report on a hard-line speech from a Californian water man, in which he knocked down any other possibilities except importing water—first 1½ maf, then 4-5, and eventually 15 and more.
12 May, Denver Post reported Reclamation’s Dominy praising both hydro power and the new cooperation being worked out between regions and pubilc-private power producers.
12 May, Post presented a rhetorical stand-off between Udall boosting his power pre-purchase idea and a public power group which backed Los Angeles’s idea of a Hualapai-mega-dam. Udall called that scheme “premature”.
14 May, Post carried a belated statement from a Colorado senator supporting that state’s stand.
Since the Senate (and House) hearings were now over, everybody was now in waiting mode until actual work on a bill began. So, for instance, a big story on this date from the Post featured Colorado complaining about a “major water crisis” due to anti-pollution demands.
Further filler on the date came in the Post “Sunday Empire” supplement featuring a quasi-poetic journey down the Colorado and a plug for Reclamation on “how the river was harnessed”, which avoids mentioning Hoover dam.
14 May, Tribune editorialized about the irony of the Club being attacked by the IRS and coming out ahead. “Maybe the dam-supporting lobbies … should ask (for) some of that bitter medicine”.
15 May, the Tribune’s Hewlett opined that he could get odds there would be no action, unless there is some “unexpected” water statesmanship. “Lengthy and thorough” hearings were over. House markup was indefinitely postponed, Hewlett “learned authoritatively”, because of adamant senatorial opposition to the dams and import studies, in particular by Washington’s Jackson. Arizona House members are putting “pressure” on Hayden to shift back toward a dam. Yet “political realists” like Aspinall are aware of the “two strikes” against the dam, so he needs Senate help since the administration is against it. With the House in postponement, all await Senate moves.
[Aspinall may have been a realist, but if so, then he knew that his power position had been damaged by his losing control of his committee’s work in August 1966 when California had blocked his effort at offering a compromise. How damaged was he? Could he “realistically” think he could bring about another kitchen-sink bill when Arizona, California, and Colorado were digging in, or worse, even moving backward from the 1966 common position? Looking at that situation, were the principal senators involved anything but confident they could set the 1967 agenda for action?]
21 May, the Post ran a long analysis of the situation by an editorial writer: Starting off with a blue-sky speculation about the future of irrigation and Reclamation, he writes that the Sierra Club and its allies are the burr under the saddle of western water tradition. Colorado’s waterman Sparks “sees red” at these speculations, claiming a primacy for agriculture and irrigation. Reclamation’s new moves toward serving recreation are not ending the controversies, either. Nor is the fact that population is going to grow along with the need for water for cities. Conservationists here are in trouble because they back the Udall move away from a dam. They are idealists with little appreciation for the practical effects of power politics. But they are supported by academics who are thinking ahead and asking tough questions, like those in Arizona who pointed out that what that state lacks is not “water”, but “cheap water”.
That same paper in its Sunday “Contemporary” section had its own article on “riding the Colorado River”. The color reproductions were not so good and ran more as ads for Currey’s motorized raft operation—as did the text, written by a reporter clearly fallen under the usual river-passenger’s spell of admiration for boatmen, in this case: “Currey, 33, a black-haired, handsome Mormon who is one of the world’s foremost river runners”. She described the boats, like “Egyptian barges”, the “sturdy sausages would rock and swing into the big holes”, averaging 8 mph. In Horn, “my legs flew up in the air, and the equipment boxes .. heaved back and forth, straining the ropes”. “The heaving, swaying boat lumbered through the 8’ holes” in Crystal. Occasionally, they would stop, pull out a vacuum cleaner, attach it to a generator, and running in reverse would inflate the sausage back up.
She cites the Sierra Club’s Time and The River Flowing, Francois Leydet’s “indispensible reference”.
23 May, Arizona Star quoted Tucson political heavyweight E.DeConcini criticizing the state-built CAP scheme as too costly for the Arizona taxpayer.
27 May, the Republic quoted Rep. Steiger praising the state’s “wisdom” in proposing to go-it-alone if necessary.
27 May Republic reported that the Senate Interior Committee would start mark-up of its CAP legislation on 9 June. California and Colorado immediately criticized Chairman Jackson, protesting that by-passing the subcommittee would unfairly disadvantage them, having fewer members on the larger group. California’s Kuchel was particularly critical of Jackson. Aspinall continues to insist there will be no House action until the Senate approves Hualapai dam.
28 May, B.Cole of the Republic twits Saylor, from the coalfields of Pennsylvania, for opposing the dam and pushing a thermal plant, which just might attract people & industry out to the Navajo coal country. Maybe he deserves a statue from Arizona. [He certainly does.]
29 May, a California waterman criticized Hayden & Jackson for putting their own interests first, and threatening to hold up waterworks in California.
So, nine months after the fiasco of the House Interior Committee’s trying to do the traditional thing of cobbling together a basin-wide, something-for-each-of-us, bill, it was the Senate’s turn, with those (Colorado, California) who quarterbacked in the House on the sidelines, confronting an alliance of Arizona, New Mexico, and the Northwest (with the administration cheering them on) determined to give the Honorable Old Gentleman from Arizona his Central Arizona Monument.