Monday, September 17, 2018

Dumping the Dams, 1966-8

One Story The Newspapers Tell

Fifty years ago, 30 September 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the legislation that gave Arizona its big Central Arizona Project (CAP) waterworks, while firmly protecting the Grand Canyon by rejecting the idea of ever approving construction in it of two huge concrete dams. 

In three dozen recent posts, I have summarized, as written about in the public press, the climax years for Congressional action on a complex of Colorado River Basin projects and policies that included the Central Arizona Project, the future of the Grand Canyon, and associated items that wrapped up a half century of Basin law-making and project-building.

Reading through the media summaries, more than one narrative will be evident; there was, after all, a plethora of interests and actors. One set sought to push through the CAP, others wanted to protect interests they saw threatened by the CAP, still others to bring some kind of resolution to a debate that had started with the century. In this very long post, I aim to delineate the key moments and flow of events from my perspective as an advocate for a damless Grand Canyon. 

The narratives, as always, proceeded as they did with a heavy dependence on the particular actors and their situations, as well as the real policy considerations they all had to contend with. (A glossary of names and terms is appended to this document, along with a note on the sources.) Sometimes it seems an actor appears determinative; sometimes, the events flowed as with their own life.
While the interpretation here is mine, I also hope it sets up an armature from which the important bits and pieces of the story can be hung and make sense in their relation to the whole.

Dams, Of Course (1965)

It is a measure of how different a society we were in mid-century that the assumption undergirding news reporting on the CAP legislation was that the decision to build dams in the Grand Canyon was foregone, essential, right, a social good. It was barely credible that the damage they would do (underestimated for sure) could power an opposition that would shape the 1966-7 events and make dams forsaken, unnecessary, wrong, and their rejection a great social step forward.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Update: Beaver Falls is inside Grand Canyon National Park

I posted the entry on how the Havasupai Reservation boundary crosses at the top, upstream end, of Beaver Falls on 22 May 2018.
Since then, there have been a few comments by others, and I have responded. I have published them all; they show up attached to the entry on that date.
I welcome comments and discussion on this matter.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Post-Postscript to "Beaver Falls Is In Grand Canyon National Park"

Krista Langlois and Amy Martin have offered their opinion that the boundary between Grand Canyon National Park and the Havasupai Reservation, where it crosses Havasu Creek, is "disputable". However, the documents generated during the legislative history of the 1975 Enlargement belie that opinion. 

The documents are clear that the boundary crosses at the upstream end, top, of Beaver Falls. From that location, the boundary goes in two straight lines, east-north-easterly and south-westerly respectively, to Ukwalla and Yumtheska Points. (See the maps in my previous posts.) That boundary was explicitly set by Congress so that the stretch of Havasu Creek known as Beaver Falls and the adjoining land on either side of the Creek would be retained in the National Park.

Any Park visitor travelling down the Colorado River who stops at the junction with Havasu Creek and walks upstream and visits Beaver Falls can take that trip entirely within the National Park. Visiting those Falls from the river therefore does not require any payment to the Havasupai. 

Since a Havasupai at Beaver Falls has been asking Park visitors up from the river to pay a fee, the Havasupai must somehow have forgotten or mislaid the documents relevant to their successful 1974-5 effort to have the United States repatriate a portion of their ancestral lands. Im sure they have and can consult such important material archived in Supai or some other appropriate place. 

Langlois and Martin make the point that Beaver Falls was part of ancestral Havasupai land. That is true, as it is for lands running east from Hualapai territory, down toward northern Arizona's great east-west travel corridor, past Flagstaff, and out into Navajo and Hopi lands, and including parts of the Grand Canyon below the rim (e.g., Indian Gardens) -- some million acres or so. 

However, the 1975 Act, in repatriating some of their ancestral land to the Havasupai, says about the remainder:  Sec. 10(f): "By the enactment of this Act, the Congress recognizes and declares that all right, title, and interest in any lands not otherwise declared to be held in trust for the Havasupai Tribe or otherwise covered by this Act is extinguished. Section 3 of the Act of February 26, 1919 (40 Stat. 1177; 16 U.S.C. 223), is hereby repealed." [That second sentence refers to how the Havasupai were dealt with in the original Grand Canyon National Park Act.]

Furthermore, the repatriated lands (those "held in trust"), except for uses specifically provided for by the Act or in the Havasupai's Secretarial Land Use Plan, "shall remain forever wild" (Sec. 10(b)7. Beaver Falls is nowhere mentioned in the exceptions -- for the simple reason that the Falls remained in the Park. 

Finally, I have a question about this whole matter. For decades following the 1975 Act, the Havasupai dealt with Beaver Falls as the Act intended, that is, they left that Park land alone. Just a few years ago, somehow they decided that Beaver Falls was not only not in the Park, but rather than being left "forever wild" should be tarted up and charged for. How come? What has led them to ignore the law they worked so hard for? Should we worry about other provisions of that law that protect access of "nonmembers of the tribe" to this National park?

Friday, July 6, 2018

Postscript to "Beaver Falls Is In Grand Canyon National Park"

There has been a response to my posts on Beaver Falls.

In "Outside Magazine Online", July 5, there is an article entitled "Sacred Native American Sites Are Not Your Playgrounds" by Krista Langlois. It begins with three paragraphs, copied at the end of this post.

Without giving in to the temptations offered by the writer's errors, I want to state again the truth (not a fake), the legal, legislated, fact that:
Beaver Falls and the land on either side are within Grand Canyon National Park.

The article says some river runners "circumvent" the Havasupai fee system by hiking up from the river. Given that river trips come from Lees Ferry, that is quite a circumvention. However, it is not, really, since river runners are within the Park from the Paria River to the Grand Wash Cliffs, including lower Havasu Creek (from the top of Beaver Falls) and the land adjoining it. Hikers to Beaver Falls up from the river do not owe any Havasupai fee since they are never on Havasupai land, never leave the Park.

The article links to my blog post (thank you very much), saying I am "disputing the park's boundary". Of course, I am really relating the Park's history, some of which seems to have slipped out of the institutional memory of the National Park Service, the Havasupai, and other involved parties. 

The rest of the article offers ways to reverence age-old attachments to the land, which those of us who are advocates of the National Park System, or just star-struck by this grand continent, can readily endorse.

Here is the article opening:

Deep in the Grand Canyon, on land that Havasupai Native Americans have called home for generations, is a place known as Beaver Falls. It’s an unimaginative name for an otherworldly landscape, where turquoise water tumbles over a series of terraces gouged into red desert walls. To legally reach the falls, you have to pay the Havasupai $140, hike ten miles to the tribe’s campground, then hike an additional four miles to the waterfall. The camping and hiking permits are one of the tribe’s few sources of revenue, and help ensure that Beaver Falls stays protected. 
Some Grand Canyon river runners, however, circumvent the permit system by hiking upstream from the river, without paying the Havasupai. In response, the Havasupai now station a ranger where their land meets National Park Service land, asking river runners to fork over $44 or else return to their rafts. 
It’s a fairly simple request, but some river runners are so upset they’ve begun circulating an obscure document disputing the park’s boundary, suggesting that rafters can freely hike to the falls despite the Havasupai's wishes.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Beaver Falls Is In Grand Canyon National Park.

Beaver Falls Is In Grand Canyon National Park.
It was kept in the Park by Congress passing and the President signing the Grand Canyon National Park Enlargement Act of 3 Jan. 1975.*
Coming up from the river, you can travel without hindrance up its entire length because all of it, — to its top, upstream end — is in the National Park.

This entry has these parts:


The need to go over this situation again arises from a 5 Jun comment by Amy Martin on my blog entry VISITING BEAVER FALLS IN GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, May 22, 2018.
“As an NPS employee who works in this specific area, i would urge you to look closely at the map that you have provided as your evidence. The topo map shows that Lower Beaver Falls is in park land, but upper Beaver Falls is squarely in Havasupai land. When you do the up and over hike from the creek, you enter tribal land, which, as we charge to enter GCNP, the tribe reserves the right to charge visitors to their land.”

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


You want to take a river trip through the Grand Canyon.
You want to stop at the confluence with Havasu Creek, and walk upstream to Beaver Falls.
You want to visit and walk about at Beaver Falls, the farthest downstream of the beautiful Havasu waterfalls.
You want to keep within the National Park.   And you can.    

And are legally entitled to:

The Park Enlargement Law of 1975 included Beaver Falls in the National Park since “in order to assure their protection as part of the national park” the precise boundary is to “cross upstream from the falls”.

Below are scans of the legal items that protect and insure your right to visit Beaver Falls as part of your trip in Grand Canyon National Park, a right Havasupai officials may not stop you from or charge you a fee for exercising.

  I. Public Law 93-620, Grand Canyon National Park Enlargement Act, p. 3, Sec. 10(a)
    describes the relevant Park boundary in words.
 II. Boundary Map 113 20-021 B, Dec 74, Grand Canyon National Park
     shows the boundary on the official legislated map. It is hard to read; the following 

     documents therefore make the crossing point clear, as does the Item V map.
III. Report, Committee on Interior & Insular Affairs, House of Representatives, No. 

     93-1374, September 24, 1974, Section-by Section Analysis of S. 1296, as 
     Recommended: Sec.10, p.11 states the “precise” point, underlined in gray, where the
     Park boundary crosses Havasu Creek, upstream from Beaver Falls, as approved by 
     the U.S. House of Representatives.
 IV. Conference Report [To accompany W. 1296], ENLARGING THE GRAND CANYON
      NATIONAL PARK, December 17, 1974, (3) Havasupai Reservation Enlargement, 

      p. 6 states that the boundary crosses Havasu Creek at the top of Beaver Falls, 
      underlined in gray, as agreed to by the House and the Senate, then signed by the 
      President on January 3, 1975.
  V. Map, Secretarial Land Use Plan for the Havasupai Indian Reservation, 

      March 23, 1982 shows the boundary, in agreement with the official map, as drawn
      and approved for the Secretarial Land Use Plan for the Addition to the Havasupai 
      Indian Reservation.

Dam Battle - August to November 1968 Press: The End

Thursday, 1 August 1968, the conferees reached agreement on the Colorado River Basin Project bill. I have clippings, summarized below, from the Arizona Republic, Salt Lake Tribune, Denver Post, Grand Junction Sentinel, Albuquerque Journal, (Tucson) Daily Citizen.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Dam Battle - June & July 1968 Press

June newsletter of California’s Colorado Rive Assoc. noted that Sen. Jackson’s statement that the House-passed bill was “not acceptable” was countered by signs of approval from New Mexico’s Anderson, Colorado’s Allott, and Hayden, who was “confident any differences can be worked out”.
It ran a photo of the triumphant Arizona key players:

The issue also carried half a dozen little items pertaining to inter-basin water transfers, sounding a bit like whimpers after the softened “bang” from House passage of the CAP bill.

2 Jun, Republic’s Cole reports a May 28 luncheon meeting of Cong. Aspinall and Sen. Jackson, calling it “most fateful meal in Arizona history”. The content of the discussion between “two of the shrewdest bargainers in Congress” was totally secret. Optimism would be indicated if action is resumed on the long-awaited Water Commission bill. Jackson wants any interbasin plans to be studied by the Commission, while Aspinall has moved to have the Interior Secretary prepare a regional water plan. Jackson would be willing to scuttle a CAP bill if it contains any augmentation study. So the luncheon is seen as an optimistic move.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Dam Battle - May 1968 Press

6 May, AP, Big news, no surprise, Senator Hayden announced this was his last term, setting up a November contest between his aide R. Elson and Republican B. Goldwater. Hayden had been Arizona’s first Representative (since statehood in 1912) and then a Senator, a total of 56 years in Congress, a record. At 90, he could see the successful end for his 20-year effort to bring Colorado River water west to Phoenix and on to Tucson, and considered his long record of helping Arizona and the West to develop satisfactorily complete.

8 May, Republic’s Cole’s reported on the next day’s House Rules Committee’s clearance of HR 3300, Aspinall’s version of the Hayden-driven CAP bill, was an emphatic yes to Hayden’s efforts. Four hours of debate were scheduled. Cong. Udall thought one day would be enough to get the bill passed. Aspinall believed it would bring “peace” to the Basin. Saylor stuck in a contrary oar by claiming Arizona should not have given in to California’s demand for a guarantee. However, with all major issues compromised or finessed away, Saylor’s hour of glory in battle would never come.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Dam Battle - April 1968 Press

Dam Battle - April 1968 Press

3 Apr, Congressional Record contained Cong. Saylor’s insertion of the House Interior Committee’s resolution commending Chairman Aspinall for his leadership on the Colorado Basin legislation.

6 Apr, Republic carried the announcement by the Salt River Project that two 1500 MW generators had been ordered for the plant it would build in northern Arizona, of which 400 MW would be reserved to pump CAP water. Construction is scheduled for 1970, and power would be generated in 1973-4.

7 Apr, Sentinel summarized the status on the bill, reported on 26 March. Committee staff was preparing report, due 22 April, at which point Aspinall will request clearance for floor action from the Rules Committee. Cong. Udall & Johnson are in charge of lining up votes. Udall held a strategy meeting of Basin state legislators. Only Wyoming is in opposition. The Californians want the bill done in May, since they have primaries in June. There would be extensive preparation of materials & letters to House members.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Some Numbers To Put Down A Vexing Canard

When writing about the fight to keep dams out of the Grand Canyon, several authors make statements like this one, from eminent historian of the American West, Donald Worster, on pp 275-6 of his Rivers of Empire, 1985:

“Originally the (Central Arizona Project) plan had been to run the pumps on hydroelectricity generated by two more Colorado River dams, one at Marble and the other at Bridge Canyon, the latter creating a reservoir that would bury a portion of the Grand Canyon National Park. (f.n. 21; see below) Once more the environmentalists buckled to battle to save a last piece of the natural, and once more—for the second time in the century—they were victorious. Once more, however, they lost something as well, for the energy to make the CAP go would be derived instead (my emphasis) from coal strip-mined on Hopi sacred lands at Black Mesa in northern Arizona and burned in the Navajo Generating Station near Page, polluting the crystalline desert air with ash and poison gas.”  (The fuller discussion, with footnotes and other examples, is at my blog post of 16 Nov 2016: Lies Float, under the tab DAMS.)

The errors in that paragraph arise in part from an ignorance of the CAP’s history, but more importantly, from a fundamental misunderstanding of how power would have been allocated to move CAP water from the Colorado River over mountains and down into the Phoenix area.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Dam Battle - March 1968 Press

The March monthly newsletter of California’s CRA called the Aspinall-led bill a “practical instrument” to deal with western water problems. It stressed that the Californian water interests and congressional delegation now formed a “united bi-partisan front”. Their position came out of a series of meetings led by state Water Resources Director Gianelli. California concessions were: eliminating the “Hualapai pumped-storage hydroplant at Bridge Canyon to calm wilderness enthusiasts” and recognizing Columbia River Basin fears about import aqueducts. The state’s priority to 4.4 maf of Colorado River water is protected unless and until the river’s supply is augmented. In the Aspinall bill, the Interior Department is to act on augmentation. The report ends with another dig at the Columbia Basin states, and the need for “a complete study”.
  Another item cited a water tunnel scheme for Arizona; an open CAP canal might very easily be Reclamation’s grave. And a state CAP plan is “nonsense”.
 A cry of despair claimed 8 million kws could come from the Colorado if only 63 more dams were built.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Dam Battle - February 1968 Press

February 1968: a hinge month.

1 Feb, Tucson Citizen laid out a discussion at the hearing between Sec. Udall and Californians, who pressed him on how he would handle a state go-it-alone CAP. Udall noted Arizonans’ “fierce” determination to have a CAP. There would be a lot of hurdles to a state effort. Udall did not want to foresee what that effort would include; he might not even be in office, although he did not think it would be fair to “raise unnecessary obstacles”. As an Arizonan he would pursue it. The Californians noted the difficulty of getting approval for any state dam. Dominy assured Cong. Udall that Reclamation’s assumptions concluded that there was enough water for the Colorado 5 projects, the CAP, and the California guarantee, even in the current drought cycle. Aspinall was reassured, although the Mexican burden would have to be a shared one. He set markup for the day that Congress adjourned for recess in mid-February. Cong Udall called this delay damaging, but not fatal; the sooner the bill gets to the floor early in the session the better.

2 Feb, Citizen reported Cong. Udall as saying there were no surprises, no setbacks in the hearings. Markup would start 26 Feb. Northwesterner Foley drew Sec. Udall to re-emphasize that desalting and rain-making were the most hopeful paths to add to the Colorado’s flow. Udall said that funds from Arizona’s share of revenues from existing dams would mean there was no need for a property tax and that the water price could be reduced.
  In a related article, studies and drafts were discussed among state legislators for starting and financing a state-built CAP if needed.

Dam Battle - January 1968 Press

1 Jan, Tucson Citizen editorializes on the political aspects of this decisive moment.
If the federal CAP bill fails this time, the state is ready to pursue the go-it-alone course. Senator Hayden, his aide Elson, Congressman Udall, Governor Williams, even Chairman Aspinall face political ramifications. The paper sees the first three, Democrats, as most praiseworthy.

1 Jan, Sentinel also analyzes this as the “year of decision”. Sec. Udall is very encouraged, to an “extreme”. Aspinall has scheduled Interior Department witnesses before his committee on Jan 30-1, with mark-up shortly thereafter. Even California is likely not to be inflexible. However, there are warnings about the tight funding for water projects. Udall and Hayden will be gone next year.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Hayden's Point Man: Roy Elson, his view in oral interview

Elson, Roy.  Oral History with Senate History project, interviewer: Donald Ritchie
Interview 9 Transcribed, 6 Jul 1990
Central Arizona Project (CAP), pp 183-208 and 210-8

His words, copied from the transcript are in black; my commentary in blue.

Elson was Arizona Senator Carl Hayden’s chief aide in the 1950’s and 60’s.

I have excerpted relevant sections from his recollections. He always gives credit to Hayden, while putting his own actions and role forward as well. His evaluations of others are useful. However, much of what he says only makes sense if the reader is familiar with the 1963-8 CAP history, and there are crucial questions unanswered.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Dam Battle – November-December 1967 Press

1 Nov, Republic carries a press conference by Arizona governor Williams describing his attempt to explain Arizona’s position to upper basin governors. He failed to obtain their support. [Speculative comment: Governors on these water issues were more spear carriers than heavy lifters — the congressional delegations were the brains and the work horses.] Wyoming had said there wasnt enough water, so import studies were needed. Williams pointed out Senator Jackson’s opposition to such studies and his essential role. He also argued that Sec. Udall’s desalting plant to satisfy the Mexican obligation would take until 1980, too long for his state. He believes the others realize Arizona will get its water.

Dam Battle - October 1967 Press

1 Oct, Denver Post predicts the odds are against the current Hayden effort to win House approval for the CAP. However, opponents know “they are in the fight of their lives”, since water for the CAP would deprive the Upper Basin states of their share. Time is pressing Hayden, 90 tomorrow, but there is little doubt he will get the ⅔-vote required in the Senate. But the real battle will be in the House, and so Hayden, accompanied by Arizona Representative Rhodes — who is on the House Appropriations Public Works Subcommittee  — visited Subcommittee Chairman M. Kirwan. Word has spread that, as chair of the public works appropriations conference, Kirwan agreed to go along with Hayden’s move to get the CAP accepted through the appropriations process. However, the House will then have to approve, with the CAP “sticking out on it like an immensely expensive sore thumb”.
   Denver’s congressman Rogers is a friend of Kirwan’s, but when, at their regular breakfast, Rogers brought up the CAP, “Kirwan exploded: Colorado shouldnt be so selfish.” However, after Rogers patiently explained Arizona’s switch from a basin-wide approach to a CAP-only bill, Kirwan concluded he “was in a spot”. Every kind of pressure will now be put on the uncommitted members of the subcommittee. Though rare, such a maneuver to push through the CAP as part of appropriations has happened.
  Hayden’s great power in the Senate will be confronted in the House by the influence of House Interior Committee Chairman Aspinall. He will be listened to on a matter where the committee structure is bypassed to vote on a bill never reported by any House committee. Despite his crotchety disposition, Aspinall is greatly respected, within his committee and the House. Also, the House is in an economy-minded mood. So Californian congressmen will use the tactic of asking House members how they can approve a $1.2 billion reclamation project. [Though the Aspinall version would cost over $2 billion.] The Californians and the Coloradans “have their work cut out for them.”

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Dam Battle – September 1967 Press

4 Sep, Post, summary: Arizonans will try to revive CAP in the House next year. They are also planning to travel the go-it-alone avenue. Aspinall has ignored any signals so far. His committee is dominated by upper Basin legislators. Blame for lack of action is put by Aspinall on Sec. Udall’s no-dam initiative. Aspinall is also concerned about whether the money will ever get appropriated for all the projects involved.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

John Saylor and the Grand Canyon, 1950-73*

This “green Republican”, as Smith labels him, played a significant role in the Grand Canyon’s history, first in 1950-1, then in the 1963-8 major dam battle, and finally probably would have in the 1972-5 expansion of Grand Canyon National Park, had he not died (in office) in October 1973.

Assessing that role is not a simple matter, given that during most of his career, he was in the House minority, affecting his political weight even when he was senior Republican on the Interior and Insular Affairs Committee. Yet those were different times than today. Congress worked differently. Democrats figured prominently on both sides of conservation/environmental/resource/development/Western issues. Saylor was a conservative of his time, and believed in a government that could work and do good, for his district and for the American people. Therefore, it was his responsibility and joy as a legislator to act constructively, to make laws, sometimes to oppose them, but overall to move government along as a positive force in the nation’s life, even as he fulminated against “big government” and “reckless over-spending”. The barn-burners and toadies-to-wealth who wear the Republican label today would scorn and revile his commitments and activities.

John Saylor: A Leader in Conservation and Environmental Issues, A Congressman, A Republican. Yes, a Republican. 1949-73

It is necessary and important, amidst my recounting of the effort to keep dams from being built in the Grand Canyon, to be introduced to John Saylor, U. S. Representative 1949-73, Republican from Pennsylvania. My own experience with Congressman Saylor was limited to 1966-8; his experience with defending our National Park System, and more generally America’s grand natural heritage, extended over a quarter-century of intense and significant environmental debate and change in public opinion and national policy.

A full account of Saylor’s life is provided in T. G. Smith’s Green Republican*. This biography, necessarily, presents a facet of the political history of a time, hard to imagine in this era, when government service was thought of as contributing to the building, widening, and strengthening of the American polity. Saylor, though rarely in the House majority, was as much or more concerned with building up America as he was in heading off wrong-headed policy directions.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Dam Battle - August 1967 Press

At the end of July, Cong. Morris Udall organized a river trip for nine of his House colleagues.  The Arizona Republic (1-2 Aug) was represented; here are the intrepid legislators near Phantom Ranch, investigating the Grand Canyon, Udall is the one grinning second from right. More important

to the newspaper was that Rodgers Morton (second from left), Republican of Maryland, “was convinced he was wrong in originally opposing” the CAP. After his six days on the river, Morton, “with a first-hand look at the country (was) convinced that the recreation advantages on the river with the dams are tremendous”. He saw that the damsites would not “interfere with Grand
Canyon National Park”, and would tell this to the “conservation groups and garden clubs in my own district” who had been “pressuring” him. Morton was the most outspoken of the group, though another member appeared shocked that the proposed reservoir would not reach to Phantom Ranch.

[This trip had no impact on the course of the legislation, but sad to say, events just downstream did affect Grand Canyon’s future. Orren Beaty, the man in the background fourth from left, slipped while on one of the pontoon rafts and hit his head on the motor, causing a serious enough injury that he was helicoptered out. Six years later, when Morton was President Nixon’s Secretary of the Interior, he was considering the question of whether motors should continue to be used on Grand Canyon trips. Remembering the Beaty incident, he decided that motors should stay while a study was done on river travel’s safety. This led to a 7-year delay in decision-making, and allowed motorboat operators to gain the upper hand in determining river traffic policy.
From my point of view, he showed remarkable consistency in the conclusions he drew in these two situations from his “first-hand look”. You can lead an ignorant person to the library; you cannot make him read books.]