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Old 10-24-2007   #1
Father of illegitimate San Juan sasquatch children, Climax. CO
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 211
Rich P. or Tom M., could you post the last (24th) GC lottery results, please?

-I just want to know if someone who went down the canyon last year got another one of the permits I applied for, again. This lottery is beginning to become extremely disappointing.
-It seems that a bunch of people get together, spend about $300 -$400 in lottery application fees, apply for the same date as a group, and ruin the chances for people who can't afford to flood an availiable permit day with applications. This is getting ridiculous. Is there anything a private boater can do other than spend a bunch of money on top of the $100 permit cost per person or combine chances with another old waitlist member? How do we voice our opinion about this ridiculous system concerning old waitlist users like myself? We are getting the crap end of the stick!
-I work at a whitewater shop and many people come in and tell me how they beat the "system." I hear quite a few others that just put in and happened to get a permit the first time they ever tried and were never on the waitlist system. I talked to persons from maybe 45 different groups who came through the shop who were permited for a trip this year. Maybe 20 different groups with trips were actually on the old system. Many from the old system without permits have expressed there dissapointment in how the new system has panned out.
So, again my question is how and what do we do?
I only feel that someone who sits on ther ass about this issue is only making it worse. Thanks for your help. John Wade

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Old 10-25-2007   #2
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 883
Hi John,

The results of the latest lottery are available at http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisi...y_10-24-07.pdf

It's a table that doesn't post here in an understandable format, or one that this old geezer can figure out anyway. However, I note that only two of the trips went to folks with only one chance -- those would be people who went last year. Don't know if either of them got the date you had your eye on. Most of them went to people with 5 chances, and one to a PH with 9 chances.

If you are a former waiting list member still trying to get a trip, you have some options. That's because the Park has adopted a monitoring program to assure that you will not wait longer than you would have if the list had remained in existence.

That is explained in the Park's FAQ, which I've excerpted below.

What happened to the people from the old waitlist system?

While enacting the new system, we have tried to be fair to former waitlist members. Under the old system we released approximately 240 noncommercial trips per year, and around 50 of these were winter dates. People joined the waitlist to be in line to eventually get one of these dates. Before starting the transition process, we projected how long it would take for each of the 7,296 existing waitlist members to reach the top portion of the waitlist and schedule a launch under the old system, and we notified each member of our findings. Next, we released 240 launch dates per year from 2007 through 2011 to waitlist members (notice, this is the same number of launch dates as previously released each year through the old system). Finally, for the remaining waitlist members, we gave each a choice, they could leave the waitlist and take a full refund of the waitlist fees they had paid us, or they could leave the waitlist and accept extra chances in the lottery with some added assurance. These extra chances are non-transferable and are very much designed to ensure most former waitlist members "win" through the lottery as soon or sooner than they would have under the old system.

Explain this "added assurance." How will the NPS step forward to help?

The "added assurance" is given solely to those individuals who transferred from the waitlist choosing extra chances (instead of a refund) and continue to have these extra chances. (Extra chances expire when the former waitlist member wins a trip through the lottery or participates on any part of a Grand Canyon Lees Ferry to Diamond Creek noncommercial or commercial river trip.) If any of these individuals do not win or participate on a trip (noncommercial or commercial) as soon or sooner than our prediction for them under the old waitlist system, we will step forward to help, giving the person a one time option to choose either 1) to have their extra chances tripled, or 2) to pre-schedule a trip ahead of the lottery by choosing from a limited number of launch dates.

These former waitlist members will be given this assistance in the year’s listed in the below chart. For instance, in February through the April 2007, we contacted and worked with the 239 people who currently qualified for this assistance. Here is what these people chose: 101 chose to have their extra chances tripled, 2 chose refunds, and 136 chose to pre-schedule. Note, we expect the total number of people who qualify for this help to decrease year after year as individuals participate on other trips and win trips through the lottery.


Also, I'd keep in mind that when people band together to try to get a date and they succeed, their chances are all set to "1" for the next year. So there is a consequent reduction in their competitiveness against others in subsequent years. That has a leveling effect on the process over time.

I'd also add that the lottery will work more effectively to meet demand once the slots now allocated to former waiting list members are depleted. That doesn't help you in the present situation, but it offers the prospect of a vastly increased success rate a few years from now for everyone -- including you once you've made your trip and your chances are re-set to "1" also..

No system is going to be perfect, and I personally refer to my own negative experience in the Four Rivers Lottery over the last couple decades as an example. But I think the Park has shown a willingness to not only try something that demonstrably does improve the flow of private boaters through the Canyon, but also to be as fair as possible to the people who were on the list.

Bottom line, I'd look at the predicted launch date chart on page 17 of http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisi...ttery_FAQs.pdf and see when your lottery date would have fallen. Then if you feel you're being short-changed, contact Steve Sullivan at gcra_riv @nps.gov and outline your problem for him. In our experience, he's been very diligent about working with folks at a individual level on issues as they come up.

Hope this helps.

Rich Phillips

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Old 10-27-2007   #3
Tom Martin's Avatar
Flagstaff, Arizona
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 817
Hi John,

Folks who used to think the old Waiting List had troubles are looking at this “new” lottery and are shaking their head…like you, lots of folks are playing…

and losing.

I can’t encourage you enough to contact your state Senator or Congressperson’s office. Ask them to help get you a permit. Remind them you can book a seat on a commercial trip for next summer today.

River Runners For Wilderness has already formally and informally told the folks from the Superintendent on down at Grand Canyon that loser’s of the lottery should get additional points for every lottery played and lost.

We have also told the NPS that awarding points to folks who have stayed away (up to 5 points if you have never paddled the Grand or have not run in the last 5 years) doesn't make sense, for the resource or the trip or the people like you with Waiting List points. We are optimistic the NPS will make some changes in this system soon.

The link Rich cited (thanks Rich) shows there were 204 applicants for 11 permits. This table shows the same pattern as previous lotteries:

Two applicants or less tried for the 4 least desirable dates (Jan 1, 12, 14, and 15). Two of those dates were awarded to someone who rafted last year.

The trip dates in this lottery were in January (6 trips), March (1 trip), November (2 trips) and December (2 trips).

John, you should have won this lottery IF you applied to any date except March 5, with more then 5 points. Did you?

Only three of the 11 trips went to applicants with less then 5 points, while 7 of the permits went to folks with 5 points.

While the NPS encourages folks to assign Potential Alternate Trip Leaders, we are hearing that most folks are getting someone to apply (one person only) that has 5 or more points.

We, like you, are also hearing that folks are getting three or four folks (with 5 points) to apply individually for the lottery, but all target a known set of dates (not necessarily 5). Does this increase their chances? Yes, but not by much.

139 folks applied for the Nov 9, 2008 trip. Your chances of winning this lottery, assuming everyone had 5 points, was 1 in 139. A group of 4 would have a 4 in 139 chance. Either way, those are poor odds of winning.

It is very possible that as more permits are added to the lottery in the next 10 years, demand for those permits will go up faster then they are released, and your chances of winning will just get worse.

We at RRFW were in Federal Court this Friday, continuing the long process of litigation against this ridiculous plan.

Remember too, the new plan has NO FIRM sunset date, and if we lose in court, might just be with us a lot longer then some folks here care to actually admit.

Feel free to call me at 928 556 0742 if you’d like to discuss this, yours, Tom Martin

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Old 10-27-2007   #4
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 883
Hi John,

Just to be clear, RRFW was not in court yesterday arguing about the lottery system, as Tom seems to imply.

(As an aside, to tell you that you should have hit in the lottery under the circumstances he postulates strikes me as sort of odd. Your chances for that date against that group of applicants were exactly what they were -- no more, no less.)

I've had the opportunity to read the RRFW pleadings at all levels of this case, and their emphasis is not on the lottery, I assure you. It's a relatively minor aspect of their argument, and not at all central to their wilderness interests.

Fact is, the current RRFW litigation is an attempt to force the Park to administratively manage the river corridor of the Grand Canyon as wilderness, with particular emphasis on eliminating motor operations.

And I'm told that when asked in court yesterday what they specifically wanted out of the case, the RRFW lawyers would not answer the Judge directly. They would only say that they wanted to wait until the remedy phase, assuming it gets that far.

RRFW continues to ask folks for support without saying what their goal is for private boater access to the Grand Canyon. Poised against a known plan with greatly increased private boater access, reduced motor use, and other concrete gains, that seems like a risky proposition to me.

John, I hope you'll consider contacting Steve Sullivan, and dialog with him about your situation. He's been of tremendous assistance to folks in helping maximize their individual situations.


Rich Phillips
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Old 10-27-2007   #5
Tom Martin's Avatar
Flagstaff, Arizona
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 817
Hi John and Rich,

Rich continues to fail to recognize that the litigation is about allocations of use, and the allocation component of the litigation directly impacts the available trips for do-it-yourself river runners.

It’s also about wilderness preservation as well, thanks for pointing that out.

The Judge did ask about remedies during the last two minutes of the rebuttal period assigned to our counsel. We looked at this as a very good sign that the Judge is having a real problem with this River Plan and is interested in talking about Remedies. With luck we will get a chance to do this before the Judge in the next month.

John, Rich has not told you the GCPBA has intervened to attempt to stop this litigation, and that the GCPBA thinks the lottery is fine, and will somehow get better with time. They seem to be very happy that 14,385 concessions passengers travel with only 2,270 self guided river runners during the same summer season.

Rich continues to attempt to get us to reveal legal strategy, while refusing to look at our consistent position on the management of GC permits.

Yours, Tom
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Old 10-27-2007   #6
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 883
Hi Tom,

It's no secret that GCPBA intervened in the lawsuit in support of the Park and the CRMP -- I've posted that numerous times here and elsewhere. We believe that the CRMP not only provided important access gains for private boaters, but also effectively balanced a wide range of dramatically varied and competing interests.

Also, no need to worry about me understanding that the lawsuit is about access (in fact, I've got it clearly in my mind that if RRFW prevails access will be curtailed). But it's far from being about the lottery itself, which is what a portion of that post implied.

It's pretty hard to see how telling folks what you'd like to see for a new management system would in any way compromise your legal strategy in proving the Park acted illegally in the past. After all, that's why the case has been split into two parts -- a determination of the legality of the CRMP and a remedy phase, if required.

If RRFW wants people to support its cause, it would be nice if they knew with some specificity where RRFW's actions were going to lead them, don't you think?

The fact your attorneys wouldn't even tell the judge what you have in mind for the future is amazing. It suggests to me that the remedy you seek must be so obviously problematic as to taint the climate for even the fact-finding portion of the proceedings.

To spare our readers all the repetition, a great deal more on this topic has been covered at http://www.mountainbuzz.com/forums/f11/rrfw-riverwire-yet-another-grand-canyon-lottery-started-14366.html

Have a good one.

Rich Phillips
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Old 10-27-2007   #7
Tom Martin's Avatar
Flagstaff, Arizona
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 817
Hi Rich, the RRFW Request for Relief is and has been, since March 2006, been posted on the RRFW web site at


We are asking, among other things, for a new management plan to be conducted based on the finding of the merits of the case, ie: that the NPS must manage for wilderness protection and equitable access. Neither is happening now.

It will also allow John to have a chance to comment on how messed up the present lottery plan is.

Yours, Tom
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Old 10-30-2007   #8
Father of illegitimate San Juan sasquatch children, Climax. CO
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 211
Well, thanks for responding, both of you. I posted right before I went on an overnight westwater this weekend, which had amazing weather.
Anyway, I opened discussion up on the river and at camp to my younger
(< 29) group of friends about the topic of river permits and hioe for the future.
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Old 10-30-2007   #9
Father of illegitimate San Juan sasquatch children, Climax. CO
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 211
Well, thanks for responding, both of you. I posted right before I went on an overnight westwater this weekend, which had amazing weather.
-I have one more question before discussion. If I never draw a permit and wait until my slated 2017 date comes up. Will I get to pick from all of the 2017 availiable dates open to the old waitlist holders? Or, will the park assign me a date that forces me to either decline or accept, that date being my chance for that year?
-Anyway, I opened discussion up on the river and at camp to my younger
(< 29) group of friends about the topic of river permits and hope for the future. I will address that in a minute.
-I do agree that even thought the new lottery is flawed somewhat, it still does allow more people to access the river annually. Is it the best system? I don't think so, but that is just my opinion. It still has granted more access to private boaters.
-Is it good that the winter dates are getting used up by people that want them every year? Yes. I will admit that I do not want those dates, ESPECIALLY since it seems that I will wait so long for my permit. Why wouldn't I want a trip that doesn't require me to live in a drysuit for all 27 days. Even saying that, one day I just might have to go for a january date. -By the way, I put-in for NOV. 6th, both lotteries. I thought that was a decent compromise between a fall and winter trip.
-I will admit that I do not have as many chances as some people that were formerly on the waitlist system before me. I don't think that I should draw a permit before them. I would have been fine waiting for my permit to come up when it was supposed to. But now there are many who just happen to aquire a date (non-wailist persons) and never stood in line with the rest of us. Most of the old wailist holders I have talked to about this think that it is ridiculous. Again, not everyone thinks that way, but most do.
-It feels like this: I was on a highway. Someone told me to take an exit ramp because there was construction up ahead and it would be faster this way. The traffic jam at the end of the off ramp just made things worse and to top it all off I am stuck in the middle lane watching people just pass by in the emergency lane. Will we ever move? Will the light turn green? Eventually, yes, but the AC is startin' to crap out and it is 108 degrees out there.
-As for the younger crowd-
-It seems that a few of my friends put in for the lottery. Most are just waiting to get invited on any old permit bc they don't have any extra chances to lose. I would forfeit my chances as soon as I accepted and leave my old friends high and dry.
-Most have never been down, like myself, and just wonder if we ever really will without compromising a great deal of our lives, (work, school, kids,..) if the opportuniy ever arises for us.
-So, the main point of me beginning this thread and post seems that I just wanted the people in more control and exposure of this wailist situation to just keep people like us in mind when it comes to access and managment of this resource. These are some concerns.
-I appreciate the advice from both Tom and Rich on how to pursue and address this issue with "higher-ups."
-I know both of you work really hard for what you believe in. Keep up the good work on all sides. It is not easy to be a concerned citizen.
John Wade
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Old 10-30-2007   #10
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1983
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 86
not going to try

I waited on the old list 12 years and then felt the pressure to join up with others to get a date when the whole wait list ended. I grouped with 3 others and I had the least amount of years on the list of that group. So we had lots of seniority, but that was a mistake for me. We got our choice of dates, but of course with that many people deciding on a launch I was outvoted and instead of maybe 3 or 4 years out when I could go they chose this past September. I couldn't wing it with a new job, 3 young kids, etc. So I had to bag out. So I couldn't even go on my own grand trip that I waited 12 years for.

I'm not going to try again. I guess I'll just head back down to the Futaleufu again if I ever get 3 weeks free again in my life.

total b.s.

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