Sunday, December 15, 2019

Pearson's Myth: A Missed Opportunity


To start his 2019 book on the Grand Canyon dams fight of the 1960s*, Byron Pearson describes interviewing David Brower in July 1997. Their  only personal encounter, Pearson offers (p.xi) "graciously received", "patiently answered", "in frail health" (he died aged 88 on 5 November 2000), as descriptors of Brower to set the mood. During that interview, Brower suggested that Pearson might want to interview me**. He did so in March 1998. 

At that interview, we discussed the 1966-8 political history as I remembered it of how this nation, acting through Congress, decided to keep the Grand Canyon free of any more dams. Pearson told me that he and his completed doctoral dissertation were fully committed to his idea that the Canyon was saved, not by "the massive public outcry" generated by the Sierra Club (led at that time by its Executive Director David Brower) and other environmental organizations, but because of the unyielding and insurmountable opposition of a key Senator, Henry Jackson of Washington. 

I remember Pearson as somewhat surprised, even nonplussed, to learn from me that not only had advocates for the Canyon recognized Jackson's crucial role, but as a consequence of his overall conservationist stance, he and we worked extremely closely with his office and other key Northwesterners during this intense period of legislative struggles over the dams and other what are now called environmental issues.*** I think I would have tried to convey how important to me personally this sub rosa alliance was in our efforts. He expressed regret (I think it was regret) that he had already completed his writing and could not adjust his views.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Myths of Power

Myths of Power
How the Sierra Club Ruled and Ruined...or Couldnt

A rich story like the one telling how the Grand Canyon was kept free of giant hydroelectric dams is bound to spin out exaggerations, tall tales, boastings, legends, and myths. And somewhere in the verbiage, maybe truths are to be found. I have tried to search out some truths in other posts of this blog, but here I want to indulge myself taking a swing at some of the fantastical inventions. As a participant in the 1966-8 climax of that story, I find two myths -- like zombies ever popping up -- particularly obnoxious. Obnoxious, and when taken together, puzzlingly contradictory.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

H. Jackson, the Sierra Club, and Saving the Canyon

OH! Its Complicated...
How Henry Jackson and the Sierra Club Saved the Grand Canyon
Sometimes Actions Speak Louder
But We Must Listen

In his 2002 Still the Wild River Runs/ Congress, the Sierra Club, and the Fight to Save Grand Canyon, Byron Pearson writes (Introduction xvi-xvii)

"the documentary record and (Secretary Stewart) Udall's own personal recollections support a conclusion that he made his decision (to seek alternatives to the Grand Canyon dams) out of political pragmatism to gain the support of Washington Henry Jackson, who, as chairman of the Senate Interior Committee, had opposed the dams because they were the primary means of financing the importation of water into the Colorado River Basin from the Pacific Northwest. ... I believe that the evidence supports my premise that Stewart Udall would have supported the construction of the Grand Canyon dams had congressional support for them existed in late 1966. Hence, I will argue throughout this book that despite the (save the Grand Canyon) national publicity campaign, it appears as though the Grand Canyon dams were eliminated  because of the aggregate effects of the political intrigue between Arizona and California and Stewart Udall's political pragmatism, rather than as a result of the environmentalist' ability to influence Congress."

In other posts, I have argued (1) that had the "national publicity campaign" to save the Grand Canyon not existed, supporters of the dams, including the Secretary, would have used "political intrigue and pragmatism" to mollify Senator Jackson so that the dams could be authorized but not used to threaten control over the Pacific Northwest's water resources, and (2) that the complexities of the story of the dams, one Pearson tries here to simplify, built over the years to the situation where a national campaign like the one the Sierra Club was prominent in re-worked the ground and context in which individuals made their decisions about the dams.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Why No Dams? Lets Count the Reasons.

No Grand Canyon Dams? Why Not?
(revised 8 Sep 2019)

1. The Bureau of Reclamation insisted that the dam(s) were, and needed to be, tied to a reclamation project, in this case bringing water from the Colorado River to central Arizona.

1a. The Federal Power Commission, ready to issue a license for a state-built Marble dam, was blocked from doing so by Reclamation, Interior, Hayden and Arizona Democrats.

1b. After Hayden's Bridge Canyon Project (CAP) was blocked in the House of Representatives in 1952 in order to settle water claims, the Bridge Canyon/Hualapai dam could have been considered by itself; the proposal was broached. The effect on Hoover might well have caused California to oppose this move. In any case, Reclamation and the Western water establishment in general saw the dams as federal reclamation property, and so the dams were tied, like concrete boots to the gangland squealer, to the CAP. Only when those weighted legs were cut off, did the CAP float free.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Damming the Grand Canyon

How The Grand Canyon Dams Saved Arizona and the American West
(A Fabulation the Moral of Which Remains Relevant)* 
(revised 8 Sep 2019)

This story is usually told in the celebratory terms of the western boomer and booster, lauding the accomplishments of statesmen and engineers in the endless unrolling of American Manifest Destiny and Civilizing the Wild Frontier.

My effort here offers a behind-the-scenes look at the politics and politicking that brought to fruition Western water resources planning of the middle twentieth century. Starting with the 1920-30's triumph of California in obtaining federal construction of mighty Hoover dam, the narrative usually moves to the compelling clash between the Colorado River's Upper and Lower Basin water policy-makers that brought about the taming of the upper Colorado behind Flaming Gorge and Glen Canyon dams. 

An entertaining sidebar to that wonderful accomplishment was the resolution of the dispute between defenders of our great National Park System and those who wanted every foot and acre-foot of the Colorado to be put to constructive human use. That dispute, of course, was resolved after an energetic public relations and congressional lobbying campaign when the federal government decided that a third great dam, to be located in Dinosaur National Monument (now an expanded Park), was not immediately needed and should be left out of the 1956 Colorado River Storage Project Act (CRSPA). This was claimed by Park protectionists as a fine victory that reinforced existing law barring dam projects from National Parks and Monuments. 

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Grand Canyon - Parashant: The Value of a BLM National Monument and BLM's Value of Grazing


For those of us who are both advocates for the iconic status of the Grand Canyon, and also cherish the Arizona Strip, the proclamation by President Clinton in 2000 of the Grand Canyon - Parashant National Monument remains problematic.

When then-Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt first conceived the designation in 1998, he had in mind that part of the Grand Canyon's drainage, not included in the National Park, that included the Shivwits Plateau, Andrus-Parashant Canyon, Whitmore Canyon, the Uinkaret, and Toroweap Valley, with closure from the Grand Wash Cliffs on the west. He described the idea in his 2012 interview with me as "protecting the Canyon by protecting the tributaries all the way up, beyond the rim. We drew the boundary to make the point; we drew the boundaries up here on the watershed, the drainage divide". 

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Astonishing Land Grab by Anonymous Park Bureaucrats

The late Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona must be roiling in his final resting place at the latest foolishness by Park Service bureaucrats in Grand Canyon National Park's administrative warrens. 

Were he still around, Im sure Goldwater would agree with George Orwell's great quote:
"It is ridiculous to get angry, BUT there is a stupid malignity in these things which does try one's patience" (my emphases).

When Goldwater was putting together the legislation that became the 1975 Grand Canyon National Park Enlargement Act, he took great pains 1) NOT to intrude on the rights of the Navajo, Hualapai, and Havasupai, and 2) to encourage governmental actions that would respect and serve the interests of those peoples while increasing protection of the Grand Canyon. 

The Park Service has never understood the fine line that legislation walked, and has failed to follow the guidelines that the Senator and the Congress set down to encourage the federal government's positive actions toward the other three owners of the Canyon's South side.

Once again, as in previous times since 1975, local Park Service officials, lacking principled understanding and historical knowledge of the laws that govern their work, have contravened the language and intent of the 1975 Act.

An unsigned Park administration email is floating about, purporting to be the U.S. government position on the boundary of the Park where it abuts the northern edge of the Hualapai Indian Reservation. 

The full text, as it has come to me, is reproduced at the end of this entry, but here is the (rotten) meat of the matter:
"Along that shared boundary, the federal government's position places all camping beaches, by definition,
within the management authority of the National Park Service and not within the Hualapai reservation."
"Based upon the federal government's determination of the boundary between the park and the reservation, the
Tribe cannot require camping fees for camping on river left downstream of river mile 166."

Notice please, that it is the federal government's "position" and "determination". What lovely bureaucratic euphemisms for the word "opinion". This opinion is not the law of the United States. Unfortunately for the writer of the email, cloaking itself in euphemism does not alter the wording and intent of the two controlling documents in this matter: a Presidential Proclamation and an Act of Congress.

I have written extensively about the history and law of the boundaries of the Reservation and the Park. I will simply sum up here by saying that the land on the south bank along the Reservation is part of that Reservation, the boundary of which runs to and along the river.
The Park Service has no "management authority" on what the email calls the "camping beaches". The Hualapai can charge fees, just as they can and do at Diamond Creek.

If the email is correct -- and its benign language belies decades of Hualapai-NPS relations -- about the current stance of the Hualapai, then there may well be even more trouble ahead than is envisioned by those who have correctly warned that using the Hualapai land on the south bank of their Reservation without permission may well, at any point, find trespassers in court and worse.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

A Historical Atlas of the Grand Canyon

Are We Done Yet?
Maps of humanity’s response to the Grand Canyon

Generally chronological, but some back and forth -- How contemporaneous can maps be made in order to show all concurrent activity?
Must start with a base map, a topographically expressive one that can be used as foundation for showing changes. ?Has to relate to township & range, long & lat.?
Use maps contemporaneous to events where possible.
How much text; this is not a written history

BCE distribution of migrations, hunting & gathering, settlements/farming.
Pre- and early-historical locations of the Hualapai, Havasupai, Hopi, Navajo (arrival and expansion), Paiute (use areas, then exclusions).
The explorers, mappers.
Entry and extension of the railroad (Atlantic&Pacific to Santa Fe RR).
Prospecting, claims, mines.
U.S. Army.
Cattle driving and livestock herding.
LDS settling, grazing, farming, logging. Homesteading.
Locations for visitors/tourists.

Railroad grants.
The Reservations: Hualapai, Havasupai, Navajo, Paiute.
Park proposals: 1880's to 1890's forest reserve
Forest Reserves, National Forests.
Grand Canon Forest Reserve.
western Dixie N.F.
Havasupai Reservation: puzzlement, promises & proposals.

Proposals through 1907.
The first Monument 1908.
Toward a Park law 1908-19.
Impact of provisions.
Havasupai at G C Village.

The Kaibab, plateau and Forest; deer.
President's Forest idea.
Park boundary changes in late 1920's.
Western Navajo boundary, esp. from Park.
1934 boundary Act.
Havasupai 1920's, Forest Service.
National Forest changes.

Monument 2.
Area withdrawal; proposals (Dixie)
Exploration, investigation, Hoover proclamation.
Whittling it down; FDRF reduction.
Contested area remaining.
Visitation sites; development.

Hualapai lands; case against SFRR.
Economic activity: grazing, logging, prospecting, recreation

Withdrawals & exclusions
Early applications and site selections
State effort
Bridge Canyon project

Serious about dams
Priority of Hoover
1940-50's Reclamation surveys
Park invasion; Monument exclusion; FPC
Megalomania: Glen, Marble-Kanab, Bridge, Hoover.

1940's addition
Crow proposal
Later proposals, to 1970's.

NPS: Park bdy-adjustment period, 1940-50's
Western: NRA's
Assessment of country
LMNRA to 1964 Act

Park v. dams
A complete Park
Anti-dam and anti-Park proposals
Marble Canyon--Monument 3
NPS working on Park bdy, 1968-72
Navajo rim; boundary
Havasupai effort.

Park-Reservation legislation
How it evolved, 1972-5
New Park boundary explained
Navajo rim
Hualapai shore
New Havasupai boundary explained
Beaver Falls occupation

Rim visitation.
River traffic.
Airplane activity
military; civilian
Hiking traffic

Post 1975 Act studies
Kanab plateau Park-worthy
North Side Park additions
Kanab Creek Wilderness
Grand Canyon Wilderness
Havasupai Land Use Plan

Uranium Prospecting & Mines
Recent activity and opposition

Babbitt Initiative, 1998-2000
complete the Canyon drainage protection
Wildlife groups/Trust doubling to add Lake Mead drainage
G C Parashant: Monument 4

Recognizing a World Icon: Cartography celebrates topography
Rectify National Park boundary
Separate out: Grand Wash Cliffs Wildlife monument
Add appropriate G C drainage in G C Parashant to Park
Arizona Strip Regional Historical and Natural Area
G C hinterland and approaches
Joint administration; appropriate sites identified
Kanab Wilderness re-identified relationship as part of G C
Designation of World Heritage Grand Canyon Icon Site Complete
Interactive; transcends boundaries
Recognition, Protection, Presentation, Enjoyment, Visitation,
Education, Inspiration.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Of Anniversaries, Bill Signings, and Other Ceremonies

The one-hundredth anniversary of Woodrow Wilson signing the 1919 Grand Canyon National Park bill will no doubt be marked on February 26, 2019. Was that signing made a ceremony at the time as many bill-signings are? If so, who would have received the ceremonial pens?

Certainly, Arizona's first and then, only, Representative, Carl Hayden, major crafter of the legislation, would have been front and center, along with Senator Henry Ashurst.

The parents of Park status for the Canyon, J W Powell and B Harrison, were long dead, but Stephen Mather, first National Park Service Director, and Horace Albright, his Assistant Director, belonged at Wilson's desk as prime backers and negotiators on the bill. The audience could have included another mover and shaker in Canyon affairs, E P Ripley, head of the Santa Fe Railroad and a colleague of Mather's.

Theodore Roosevelt, had he not died seven weeks earlier, would have rightfully been an honored guest at that signing for his foresight in proclaiming the first Grand Canyon National Monument on January 11, 1908. One hopes Democrat Wilson would have invited Republican-Progressive Roosevelt, his competitor in the 1912 presidential election.

Possibly not, though, since that Monument stirred up a row, and because of its strictures on development for accommodating visitors, was a negative driver for Hayden's legislation, the provisions of which included:
authorizing use for development and maintenance of a Government reclamation project; 
permission for the prospecting and exploitation of mineral resources;
drawing the southern boundaries tight to the rim to protect local ranchers' ranges;
allowing rights of way for irrigation and railroads;
continuing Coconino County's control over the Bright Angel Trail as a toll road for live stock; 
forbidding any Park structure between the rim and private holdings within 300' of the rim;
granting concessions to "the best and most responsible bidder"; 
and ignored a knowledgeable recommendation for an appropriate Havasupai Reservation while confining them to 500 acres along Havasu Creek plus farm plots. 

Tightly drawn, the 1919 boundary had the advantage of being described in words (two very closely packed pages of townships and ranges), unlike the 1975 Grand Canyon National Park and Havasupai Indian Reservation Enlargements Act. That law I know for sure had no ceremonious bill signing on January 3 of that year, too much the object of anger and frustrated amendment. Sad for Barry Goldwater, prime sponsor of the measure and an off-and-on friend of the Canyon. His bill and its subsequent versions depended heavily on somewhat roughly drawn large-scale maps from the Park Service. They are handy visuals for discussion; the very devil in producing on-the-ground boundaries. 

Goldwater and the principal House legislator, Morris Udall, would have been the leads had there been any ceremony. Their bill doubled the acreage of the Park, and most significantly included the Canyon's entire length. It called for a survey for Wilderness designation including the river, and studies of worthy additions and, weakly, airplane noise pollution. It respected and urged cooperation with the Navajo, Hualapai and others. Moreover, this bill was virtually free of the pro-development features of Hayden's monster. There was only a ten-year extension for grazing (now all gone) and a cynically vacuous "reclamation" provision that blessedly started off by reaffirming the 1968 law that marked the death of the scheme to build large hydroelectric dams in the Canyon.

That law, the Colorado River Basin Project Act, did have a generous signing fest on September 30 1968, with many of the major figures present, especially to honor Carl Hayden for finally achieving his dream of bringing Colorado River water to central Arizona. No surprise, the Save-the-Grand-Canyon sections 601-606 that wrote the dams' epitaph were not enough to suggest the presence of their chief opponent, David Brower. 

The 50th anniversary last year was marked with publicity, apparently. I was struck that in naming sections of the canal, neither Udall brother got a sign. And it seems a dubious proposition that Arizona would ever memorialize the names of Brower or Senator Henry Jackson, so significant in shaping that Act as well as principal in downing the dams. 

Anyway, who needs memorials and signing pens and ceremonies, when we have all got the Grand Canyon to celebrate.  

Friday, January 11, 2019

The River, the Park Service. The Left Bank, the Hualapai

History and Policy for the Left Bank of the Colorado River in Grand Canyon (cont.)

The recent stir over Hualapai rights on the Colorado's left bank led me to review the two Interior Department's Solicitor's office reports (1976 and 1997) on the Hualapai Indian Reservation and Grand Canyon National Park boundaries. It is good to see our agreement that the Reservation line was established to go TO and ALONG the River. And not to go to the River's middle, the Hualapai's haitat, and not to include the riverbed. Nevertheless the Solicitor officials were incorrect when they inserted the "high water mark" (HWM) language in their opinions, whatever legal theories may have led them to assert this. The HWM was never under consideration or of importance in the 1883 Reservation establishment nor in the 1975 Park Enlargement Act. As we shall see, other considerations were of greater import in the early 1880's and were explicitly expressed in the Act.
The Solicitor was correct to bring up the often-neglected question of navigability of the River under the Commerce Power. It is of overriding importance in the question of Park jurisdiction, since the sponsor's intent was to unify administration over river traffic, on all of the river in the new Park, on all of the water surface. There was no intent to disturb existing ideas about the Hualapai boundary, or to stage a raid on Hualapai land. Unifying a fragmented responsibility for river travel was a desired and desirable object, which the 1975 Act met.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Common Sense On The River -- And Off It

History and Policy for the Left Bank of the Colorado River in Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon's lands east and south of the Colorado River have four major landlords. From the Canyon's beginning at the Paria junction to the Grand Wash Cliffs 277 Miles downstream, they are the Navajo Nation, the National Park Service (NPS), the Havasupai Tribe, and the Hulapai Tribe, ending again with NPS, an agency in the federal Department of the Interior.

Since the matters I will be discussing involve the prickly matter of sovereignty, it is necessary to recognize that in an important sense, the Navajo, Havasupai, and Hualapai have sovereignty over their lands, though it is of course a jurisdiction and ownership granted by and resting on the foundation of the overall national sovereign, the United States of America.

For those involved in the protection and presentation of the Grand Canyon as a natural and environmental icon of world-wide recognition and concern, as well as for those interested in exploiting the Canyon for their own short-term financial gain, recent years have seen intense debate over actions that are inextricable from questions about sovereignty, and thus inevitably, the boundaries that separate one landlord’s jurisdiction from another’s.

I have written at length about boundary matters in my on-line history blog, “Celebrating the Grand Canyon”, at, under the headings for Boundaries, Havasupai, Hualapai, Navajo, & The Park. A century-and-a-half (and of course many centuries further in the past) of political history have proven the Canyon to be a center of charged affairs; charged with emotion, yes, but more significantly, charged with importance for the question of how humanity conducts itself in and for the world.

A major example of such an affair – recently, and I hope finally, happily concluded – was the question centered on Navajo land at the junction of the Little Colorado and Colorado Rivers: Should the Navajo Nation approve a tacky, greedy proposition for building a mass-industrial tourist site that would irreparably damage this extraordinary part of the Grand Canyon and be contrary to the benefit of the Navajo people, solely for the enrichment of a few non-Navajo speculators? While the question was presented in the arena of Navajo Nation government, clearly it struck home in the hearts and minds of people, not just in the rest of the United States, but across the world. And threaded throughout this struggle were the intricacies of how this vital tract of Grand Canyon heartland came under Navajo jurisdiction, decision-making, sovereignty.

A minor example is the quiet acquisition by the Havasupai of National Park land that includes Beaver Falls on Havasu Creek. At present, paralyzed by a lack of agency leadership and coherence, the National Park Service at the Park has taken no action to protect public access to these Falls, allowing the Havasupai to either exclude the visiting public or charge them a not-insignificant fee.