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.