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Old 04-10-2008   #1
rg5hole's Avatar
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 06
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 450
Grand Canyon Lottery BS!

So I have been applying for a few years and didn't even try for '09! I am seriously depresed and I don't mean to take away from the people from the dreaded waiting list, only I mean to make this point...

National Parks were created to thwart exploitation. They were the first areas to be set aside for non impact use (no mining, logging, development, etc.) What I see now is commercial exploitation, what's wierd is in the rafting instance relatively affordable and poorly managed Aramark is not the exploiter...rather a bunch of independants. I wonder how they get that opportunity?
Looking at the statistics
There were about 610 commercial launches in 07
There were about 460 non-comm launches in 07
Commercial travelers average about 20,000 people
Non comm travelers average about 6,500 people
There are typically about 3,000 people each year that apply for a non-commercial (small and large). I would say an untold amount, lets say another 3000 don't bother applying but would had they had a more than 1% chance of earning a trip.

Don't get me wrong, commercial trips have their place but understand that the parks are set up so that everyone has equal opportunity to enter, except rafters and kayakers in this case?

With an average of 14 people per non-comm trip, if my guesstimate of 6000 people (non-comm) had a fighting chance, ohh hell lets say 100% chance of winning a launch that would be about 84,000 river trippers. At 26,500 peeps they allow to go down the river a year that is about 4 years to clear all of the people that want to go out without paying a guide. That math says the lottery could be as much as a 25% chance if the commercial trips were mostly done away with or for the benefit of the commercial companies they could join the lottery..that may decrease the chances to 20%.

About this 26,500 people per year. I am sure if you pay the bucks to raft with 32 of your closes freinds you have never met before you could care less if you see 32 more boater trip by. For that matter the eager non-comm launches of 14 people could certainly care less about seeing others. Lets rule out the serenity of not seeing crowds (to a point, I realize a traffic jam donw the colorado through the GC would be a bad thing). So if the rafters both commercial and non commercial are there for the scenery and experience wtf is the problem with even doubling the limit? Trash maybee??? Double the limit=double the revenue=more support and a higher enforcement of fines, etc for littering and impact issues. Now we are only 2 years away from a permit at a decent 50% chance to "win" this trip.

My math maybee fuzzy and who knows about my spelling but all I am saying is the GCRTL is pretty skew according to demand! I certainly am not in a position to change that however, perhaps you that are reading this sit with Steve Sullivan at the bar and can convince him in a drunken stuper to shift focus on the people rather than the dollar. Case in point...if I wanted to go down the GC I can make 3 phone calls and get on at least one commercial it stands on doing it on my own with could be only 1 year out of 100.

unless of course you have a spot for me on your trip...I know a shuttle bunny!!???!?

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Old 04-10-2008   #2
COUNT's Avatar
Summit, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 2,085
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Okay, so I have definitely seen degradation of the campsites, hikes, etc. on other runs that are over trafficked. I am definitely a huge proponent of maintaining the most remote river experience possible. I would prefer to deal with the *&^%ing bureaucracy versus over-crowding and lower quality experience of a popular run (as hard as that is for me to say). But yes, I agree that the GCNP has been grossly mismanaged over the years. For my version of bitching and moaning about the Grand:

This Gig's Rigged

Some good points in there.


"The world would be a better place if everyone kayaked."-Brad Ludden (Valhalla)
"You only get one chance to run a drop blind."-DD
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Old 04-10-2008   #3
Randaddy's Avatar
Eastern Slope, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 2,404
Well I certainly couldn't keep up with your math, but it sounds like you are suggesting more people. I'm not sure about that, but I've never been there. It just seems like one of those places that needs pretty heavy restriction.

The commercial guide situation is a tough one, as many have been grandfathered in to new management plans. That might not seem fair, unless that was your business and livelihood. Maybe it's still not fair. My understanding is there is a plan in place to have an even number of commercial and private user days in the Canyon. Does anyone know if this is true? I do think it's crazy that the Poudre is in many ways more restricted on commercial use - at least in the number of licenses, if not user days.

I feel bad. I applied for the lottery for '09 and won my first try. I'm not kidding, I feel guilty. I'll tell you what, if there are any single ladies out there with a raft and a frame, shoot me your phone number and I'll see what I can do about getting you on the trip.... sorry rg5Hole, I don't think you're my type.
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Old 04-11-2008   #4
Tom Martin's Avatar
Flagstaff, Arizona
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 817
RG5 has it right. The new system makes do-it-yourself folks go faster through the Canyon, greatly increases winter use, and the summertime user days for the DIY folks is about 25%, while the concessions user days in the summer is about 75%. What good does saying the annual use is 50-50 when summertime access is at 25%? Body count is even worse, 14% DIY to 86% concessions in the summer, 100% to ZERO in the winter. The NPS answer to inequitable allocations was just to increase off season DIY access. This has resulted in more crowding and more resource damage.
And that's just the inequitable access part of this mess.

The other huge part is the lack of wilderness protection. Ever been passed by a two boat commercial motor trip of 32 folks late in the day and have them take your group of 16's intended camp "cause they could".

River Runners for Wilderness has taken the Park Service to court over this plan. The litigation has recently moved to the 9th Circuit Court.

If we lose in the court, the issues of inequitable public access and the lack of resource protection will not go away.

Yours, Tom Martin
River Runners for Wilderness - Protecting the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon and Its Tributaries
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Old 04-11-2008   #5
rg5hole's Avatar
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 06
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 450
Count, I read your other post...pretty much exactly how I feel. I would like to mension that as an outdoorsman I am very much against seeing trash in the backcountry. In this particular intrest there is much to much demand to leave the situation as "remote". I can also say that even with 50K peeps down the river you probably won't be seeing but one group of them if that! A swift regulation and restriction on how far from the river you can camp will thwart most all the impact problems, garbage flows down toward Cali!

One more thing...I guess where I am going with this is that if for once every few years they just clear the list by letting non-comm flood gates open, or at this point just clear the list now I would be surprised if it stacked up as bad as it is now for 5 years or more. Lets remember that it takes 2 weeks to do the trip...not to many folks can get that sort of time!
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Old 04-11-2008   #6
Laramie, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1994
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 171
I don't believe that increased launches or human traffic are the answer here at all. The current system is very effective at maintaining a pristine environment in the canyon.
What is an absurd amount of bullshit is the preferential treatment given to commercial operators. The above annual stats of passengers clearly shows this. The most fair method of balancing this, I believe, would be a system similar to that in place for hunting on public lands. Anyone, commercial passenger or private boater, enters the same lottery with the same chances of drawing a permit. 0nce you have a permit those with the equipment, know how, etc. to navigate the river themselves are set. Those permit holders without, then begin shopping for what commercial outfitter they would like to take them down the river.
This would decrease commercial profits and have commercial operators squealing. But I believe this would do an even better job of flitering the type of river users in the canyon.
Anyone and everyone who values the canyon enough to pursue a permit and enter lotteries year after year should have equal chances and rights to land a permit, whether they are a private boater or someone wanting to be guided down.
I mostly just feel that preference should not be given to those who are milking money out of our public resource and to any Joe with $3000 to throw down on a guided trip that can leave next week if he so desires.
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Old 04-11-2008   #7
riojedi's Avatar
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 191
I want a permit as much as the next guy, but I think you guys are a little of base. The NPS runs the park for all the American public not just the boating public. It's a touch elitist to just include the boating community. If the general public can't get in there they won't know why the GC needs protection. If the NPS surrveyed most Americans as to how they would like to see the GC, commercial trips would be the preferred choice by far.

The allocation of dates to time of year is kinda screwed but on the otherhand I wouldn't want to go in the summer, not that I want to go in January either.

Can you tell I'm a river outfitter?

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