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.