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Old 02-16-2010   #21
placerville, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 732
i agree w/ what you say about the "footprint" of snowmobiles on the ground. I was referring to the gas/exhaust fumes/particles emitted that go into the snowpack/ground/air. Not a huge issue, I know, since (i assume) all snowmachines are 4-stroke now, but just stating an opinion. I assume the term "bunny hugger" to have negative connotations? Like I said, there is plenty of wilderness for all, whether you choose to be motored around or not.

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Old 02-16-2010   #22
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,911

Please respond to my request about how or whether RRFW's suit would have increased private boater allocation over the year.

The issue of GCBPBA's "selling out," as you put it, to the commercials is getting batted around on the GCPBA listserve right now, and some interesting dialog has occurred. You already know everything that happened during the difficult crafting of the compromise which nearly doubled the private boater user day allocation and established the non-motor season, so for the benefit of others reading this, the following posts deal with some of the issues touched on in this thread.

For folks that aren't familiar with the current CRMP's history, the planning process entailed long and difficult negotiations between stakeholders. GCPBA's mission was to increase private boater access from the pre-CRMP's roughly 2:1 commercial to private user day ratio to one that would give private, or "self-outfitted" boaters a better chance at floating the Grand Canyon. Rather than pursue every single thing they wanted, GCPBA and AW recognized that compromise would be required and chose their battles to get the best deal possible for private boaters. GCPBA and AW decided to let some battles go unfought (e.g. motors, increasing private summer allocation/decreasing commercial summer allocation, etc.).

During the process, it was realized some issues with seemingly easy solutions have negative unintended consequences that would come with those solutions. Some issues that boaters dream about and want very badly (like Glen Canyon Dam removal) were simply outside the scope of the planning process and could not have been changed anyway.

There are tens of thousands of emails on the GCPBA listserve from about 2000 to 2006 debating minute details and hashing out various points of view, with hundreds of private boaters weighing in on the various propositions, considering unintended consequences, and determining if ideas were workable within the planning process.

In the end a delicate compromise was reached and the efforts of the GCPBA and AW resulted in a near doubling of the private boater allocation while holding commercial allocation constant and imposing new restrictions on the outfitters as well. The RRFW lawsuit, now ruled upon and with the court's opinion disagreeing with every charge, would have put the private boaters' gains in jeopardy and restarted the entire process.

With the 2006 CRMP access to the Grand Canyon has improved greatly for private boaters, and is about to improve even more significantly. After this year, there will be twice as many launches available to private boaters. That's because during the first five years, half the launches were assigned to people from the old waiting list, and those launches never made it into the lottery pool. This means that your odds of getting a launch in the lottey will basically double next year.



Regarding the compromise reached:
From: gcpba-at-yahoogroups.com [] On Behalf Of driftersmith
Sent: Tuesday, February 16, 2010 8:09 AM
To: gcpba-at-yahoogroups.com
Subject: [gcpba] Re: GCPBA position on Motors, Wildnerness and User Allocation

I completely agree with Dave Yeamans on this: private boaters certainly have an edge on the prime times of the year, Spring and Fall.

One thing to keep in mind: the Colorado River Management Plan is a compromise that tries to address competing interests in a limited resource. As such, no single party [not even the NPS, I think] got everything they wanted.

But I think the private boating community came out a lot better off than it had been before, under the old plan. And the improvements came from changes that the commercial community could live with. Without some compromise, no changes would have happened at all.

I'm both a commercial guide and a private boater, so I think I can see both sides of these issues. Sometimes I find myself on different sides, depending on which hat I am wearing today.

The National Park Service is in the unenviable position of being responsible for administrating the park for everyone. That includes the general (non-boating) public that might want to do one (Grand Canyon!) river trip in a life time, private boaters who would like to go at least once a year (if they could), scientists, educators, administrators, people in the future who haven't been born yet, etc - all of whom have legitimate reasons to want to be down there some of the time. The outfitters are necessary to service the largest of these "special interest" groups - the general public, people who are not usually recreational boaters.

Although the CRMP is a compromise, I think it's been a pretty good one, overall - even if there are some things I would have done differently (if it was up to me.) Everyone else, I'm sure, feels the same way - but they disagree on what they'd change.

I think all of us (wearing our private boater hats) owe GCPBA a lot for getting us to where we are now, and also for having established a dialog with the Park Service and outfitters about fine tuning the system in the future, rather than the open and blatent antagonism that existed between between them in the past. This took a lot of time and hard work by a lot of folks.

It's a bit distressing to me that people who (for whatever reason) were not involved in this long difficult process are now suddenly showing up and (it seems to me) implying that GCPBA in some sense "sold out" to commercial interests. Nothing could be further from the truth...

- Drifter Smith
Regarding equal access year round:
From: gcpba-at-yahoogroups.com [] On Behalf Of David Yeamans
Sent: Monday, February 15, 2010 10:43 PM
To: gcpba-at-yahoogroups.com
Subject: Re: [gcpba] Re: GCPBA position on Motors, Wildnerness and User Allocation

I'll reveal a truth from the scoping period of the NEPA process: GCPBA lobbied for a proportional allocation split every day of the year, not just by month. But we changed our position when we saw it was not the best choice.

Best has many components, the largest of which seemed (to me) to be survivability. Rather than making our last stand on the hill of "daily launches in proportion to yearly allocation," [we also proposed but then abandoned the idea of an adjustable allocation -- I can explain why] we agreed with numerous stakeholders that an even split of user days was not only workable, but it was the best solution. Then we began to consider best how to divide them up through the year. The same issue came forth -- is this daily equality of launches something we want to die for? The answer was no, and we're proud of the advantages we were able to broker as a result of being tractable. A bit of history.

I'm not convinced that most private launches are in colder months. Sure, some winter launches may go wanting but we get the lion's share of launches in what many consider to be the prime seasons, Spring and Fall. We'll have to go to the EIS to determine the number of "colder months"
launches. Maybe you can look it up and report here.

I suppose somebody will write a book. Then somebody else will have to write a book.

Dave Yeamans
Regarding helicopter operations:
-----Original Message-----
From: gcpba-at-yahoogroups.com On Behalf Of David Yeamans
Sent: Monday, February 15, 2010 6:15 PM
To: gcpba-at-yahoogroups.com
Subject: Re: [gcpba] Re: GCPBA position on Motors, Wildnerness and User Allocation

The helicopter thing is complex. Others will tell you it's simple but then they told us the CRMP was arbitrary and capricious which it is not.

First off, the helicopter flights that elevate river customers into and out of the Canyon touch ground only outside the National Park so GCNP has little, marginal, undefined, or no control over them. Second, GCNP does not regulate the airspace above the Park; that's an FAA issue. Third, if there needs to be a third, the noise from said helicopter flights is exempted from "substantial restoration of natural quiet and the visitor experience" by Federal law.

Of course there are other helicopter flights but the rules for them are substantially the same with the exception of the noise exemption.

(Additional irrelevant text omitted - AH)

Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 02-16-2010   #23
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 883
Hi Andy,

You've done an impressive job of summarizing a lot of complicated stuff.

If you get a simple, understandable answer from Tom on what he really wants and what it would do to private boater access, I'd be amazed.

Throughout the duration of the litigation he refused to do that -- always saying that he'd explain his solution when the trial got past the fact-finding stage and moved to the remedy stage. Which it never did.... So he never actually told folks what his actions would produce, despite numerous entreaties to do so.

Let me add a couple of other things. Tom has taken regular shots at GCPBA for working cooperatively with commercial outfitters, commercial passengers, and AW -- saying that other groups were shut out of the process. It's not hard to see through that one.

By doing what it did, GCPBA and its partners gave the Park the foundation for a plan that broke a decades-long management logjam. At a point in time in our country when so many of us decry sharp polarization and inflexibility, that seems like a fairly decent outcome.

And of course it's absolutely untrue that RRFW and other groups were shut out of the CRMP process. They the same input opportunities with regard to the CRMP as everyone else.

But consider this as well. Nothing kept RRFW from forming its own coalition in the DEIS/CRMP process, and submitting a coherent plan for the Park to consider. Tom is quick to cut and paste a list of all the parties that joined in the lawsuit he filed. But perhaps unknowingly, when he does that, he underlines the fact he didn't or couldn't muster that group in a constructive way when the CRMP was being developed.

Hang in there.

Rich Phillips
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Old 02-16-2010   #24
West By God, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 289
This is one of the best threads I have read on the buzz recently. In addition to a lot of great information about the CRMP and its development, this thread illustrates how two stakeholders that are largely advocating for the same goal can strongly disagree on how to accomplish it. From my perspective, collaboration with all interested parties is the only realistic way to craft a meaningful, lasting resolution. I am excited that a lottery system has been implemented and that my chances in that lottery will double next year. I am hopeful that the allocation of permits to private boaters in optimal floating months will increase in the future. In the meantime, I encourage all of the advocates to work together to build consensus so that much can be accomplished when the time comes.
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Old 02-16-2010   #25
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 1,136
Originally Posted by Andy H. View Post
After this year, there will be twice as many launches available to private boaters. That's because during the first five years, half the launches were assigned to people from the old waiting list, and those launches never made it into the lottery pool. This means that your odds of getting a launch in the lottey will basically double next year.


Not to be picky, but there will NOT be twice as many launches available to private boaters after this year.
Your last sentence is correct, the underlined statement is false.
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Old 02-16-2010   #26
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 883
Give Andy a Break


I think Andy can be forgiven for lack of precision in his choice of words in this one spot. He covered an awful lot of territory and did it quite well.

But to clarify, it's the number of launches available through the lottery that will double, not the total number of launches.


Rich Phillips
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Old 02-16-2010   #27
Rainy Northwest, Washington
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 460
That's great analysis. And it's not like the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is generally conservative.

Originally Posted by richp View Post
Hi Tom,

* RRFW lost. Lost big. Then lost bigger.

* The facts RRFW presented weren't persuasive to any of the judges.

* The legal precedents RRFW cited didn't apply, and its tactics didn't work.

* When RRFW doubled down on its appeal, it managed to get an even more legally powerful refutation of its position.

Notwithstanding all the fine quotes from your allies, one might reasonably speculate that major segments of the environmental community are pretty upset over this outcome. They now will have to deal with an even more elaborate and forceful appellate court precedent supporting agency discretion. That can't be viewed positively, no matter how it's depicted.

Put directly, RRFW's short-term tactical pursuit of its anti-commercial, anti-motor goals, has made future strategic battles against legitimately objectionable policies far harder.

Which takes me back to where many folks have been all along. This was never the way to pursue the issues of wilderness and motors on the river in the Grand Canyon. It's always been a legislative matter. Unless and until RRFW (and others, presumably) successfully musters a full court press with Congress, the current status will not change.


Rich Phillips
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Old 02-16-2010   #28
Tom Martin's Avatar
Flagstaff, Arizona
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 818
Lots to respond to...

Hi Andy, thanks for posting the gcpba yahoogroups posts.

I note that there is little discussion of these issues on the RRFW moderated Rafting_Grand_Canyon yahoogroup, where the GCPBA folks are free to post, but their false claims and unfactual statements are not allowed to go unchecked by folks who have a good understanding of the issues and don't let such nonsense go unchecked.

The latest attack by a GCPBA board member on the moderator of Utah Rafters should be an eye-opener on how these folks look at compromise and building stakeholder relations...and how damaging the "Compromise" actually is to do-it-yourself river runners.

It's clear that the GCPBA was manipulated by the river concessionaires. I have cited that web link enough.

The GCPBA board is doing all they can to try to misconstrue and discredit a fairly large group of constituents that do not agree with their assumptions and claims. That is unfortunate.

The GCPBA notes there will be a doubling of available permits next year, and most of the available permits next year will be in the off season. What does that really mean?

For the 2008 year, there were 2,464 applicants for 251 permits
For the 2009 year, there were 2,749 applicants for 266 permits
For the 2010 year, there were 3,381 applicants for 284 permits

Most of the applications are for the 6 summer months while most of the available permits are in the 6 winter months.

And yet, there is still no justification for the allocation the river concessions have.

What is of critical importance is what the Courts didn't say…

It is still clear in this case that the Park Service made arbitrary, political decisions, on both of the basic issues: It backed down from banning motors years ago, and backed down again in its current plan, without valid justifications for backing down. Regarding allocation, it came up with a phony 50-50 split of access in its current plan, with illogical support from GCPBA (because GCPBA thought it had no reasonable alternative under the political circumstances.)

Both of those decisions do indeed fall short of validity and justice. They are arbitrary, political decisions, no doubt about it. Regarding allocation, Julia Olson said it well enough at the hearing in San Francisco--that a management plan should actually fix a wrongful allocation, not just be an improvement over a previous allocation that was even worse. The claim of GCPBA through Lori Potter--that if a new allocation is better than the old one, it should be upheld--is not a matter of justice or validity. But unfortunately the current GCPBA position seems to have been fairly important in giving the courts enough of a basis for their decision to let the new management plan stand.

The present management plan is indeed arbitrary and political, even though the courts decided not to intervene at this time.

The facts remain what they are: There is still no valid reason for motorized rafts in the Grand Canyon. Motors are still wrongful in that setting, even though the courts chose not to intervene.

Regarding allocation, the split is not actually 50-50 in reality, and even if it were, 50-50 is not valid anyway. There is still no valid, lawful reason for splitting the access 50-50 and leaving it at that, even though the courts chose not to intervene.

Actually, there is still good news in the court decisions, even though it's hard to see right now through all the GCPBA smoke. Here's the good news:

-- The courts did not declare in some fashion that motors have legal rights, or that people have legal rights to bring their motors into unofficial wilderness areas in order to make trips more convenient. The Park Service can still ban motors when it chooses to do so. The reasons why motors are wrongful in this setting, and why the Park Service should still ban them are still clearly obvious.

-- Regarding allocations, the courts did not endorse 50-50 splits of access as being lasting solutions. They let a (phony) 50-50 split stand in this case, (with GCPBA's support,) but the Park Service can still adjust the allocations when it chooses to do so. The courts did not say that a 50-50 split should continue permanently into the future. The present allocations are not a valid way to divide the access for next season, or the season after that, or future seasons after that.

-- Regarding the management plan itself, the courts did not say that management plans continue to be valid for the original intended life of the plan, in the face of changing circumstances. Motors should be banned, and allocations should be adjusted, starting NEXT SEASON, because it is ALREADY wrongful to continue taking motors through this wilderness canyon, and it is ALREADY wrongful to continue to allocate space without checking actual sign-ups for trips. There is no legal requirement to wait till the current management plan expires. Instead, there are valid and justifiable reasons to NOT wait until that time, to correct the current wrongful practices in the Grand Canyon.

-- The courts did not say that the Park Service rationalizations in the present plan would still be valid if the Park Service tries to carry them over into the next plan. It is wrongful to allow motors in this outstanding wilderness area, and it is wrongful to allocate space without checking trip sign-ups, and why the current Park Service rationalizations are invalid. Of course the Park Service will still attempt to ignore these changes, but we already knew that.

In this case, the courts said that the current Park Service practices are not quite illegal. But they are still wrongful. River runners need to keep hearing WHY these practices are still wrongful, and why they should be changed, as soon as reasonably possible, like at the end of this year.

So what are possible answers to the access equation. Many were offered during the CRMP process. I can only link you to the RRFW plan. It's here, one of many options to seeking true equity in access.
http://www.rrfw.org/sites/default/files/documents/RRFW_Colorado_River_Management_Plan_Scoping_Commen ts.pdf

Hope this helps, there's lots yet to do, and right now i gotta go to bed. We are cranking at work...oh, yeah, some of us are not retired and are doing this while trying to hold down day jobs, famailies, and go boating every now and then

All the best, Tom
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Old 02-17-2010   #29
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
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Posts: 154
I know that there is a lot more going on here, and I don't pretend to know half as much as Tom, Andy or RichP, but I do know a bit about land management. Wilderness, as in capital "W"ilderness is set aside by law. Stating that Wilderness is a place where man is a visitor right? And when a National Park is set aside, it is placed under the control of the NPS. There is no stipulation as to how they do it, but somhow they are to leave it "unimpaired for future generations" right?

We can debate motors, mountain bikes, snowmachines, jeeps until the cows come home. I am a wilderness advocate in so many cases, but not with Grand Canyon. The more time I spend down there, the more I believe that they are doing more good than harm for the Canyon.

But the RRFW lawsuit is essentially arguing with the most basic difference between Wilderness, and a National Park. In Wilderness, the law says no to mechanical transport. In a National Park, it is all about precedent. in the 50's when Georgie started running her boats, they didn't stop her. But they did stop the upruns, and they did stop allowing swimmers after Dagget and Beer. In Yellowstone, snowmachines were allowed and that set the precedent we see now. Canyonlands owes a huge debt to Kent Frost and his Jeep tours. 4WD's, ATV's, Moto's and mountain bikes are still there. That precedent was set early on in the Park's history. Maybe I'm wrong, but my understanding is that the NPS can manage a Park just about any way they would like. If the Grand Canyon was a designated Wilderness, then no, motors would not be allowed.

It just seems to me that it is a very basic difference that is being fought, yet made to sound like some extraordinarily complex matter. The CRMP is very complex, running a park is very complex, and managing a Wilderness area is very comples. However it seems to me that the difference between a National Park and a Wilderness area is pretty easy to understand.

But then again, maybe I don't know what I'm talking about.
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Old 02-17-2010   #30
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Hi Andy,

As you and everyone else can see, Tom's lengthy post has not answered -- in a direct, understandable way -- your very easy question about what would happen to private allocations in a RRFW world.

That's because he knows the outcome of his favored plan would be reduced access, and he would lose support in the private boating community.

I note with interest that he's now invented a new legal standard for this kind of case -- "wrongful". Through all of the post, he uses that term, in order to avoid admitting the fact that the Courts found everything the NPS did to be totally "lawful".

Tom made lengthy, impassioned, and ultimately flawed arguments all over the internet for years, persuading some folks his cause was just and his rationale would prevail. He's still trying to do that. I understand that it must be hard for him to accept the fact that he was wrong in what the law allowed and required. As a matter of human nature, I have some empathy for him -- it's hard to see a treasured goal go unrealized. But his goal would have meant private boaters would have quite a bit less access to the Grand Canyon.

I don't make that last statement lightly, because it wasn't just in user-days that we might have lost badly. And it isn't just Rich Phillips speculating. Let me give you an actual example of what RRFW's lawsuit -- if successful -- might have produced.

There is a section of the Court decision ruling that said:

"Plaintiffs contend that this cumulative analysis should have caused the Park Service to eliminate sounds from motorized river traffic. But if a cumulative analysis were to result in the elimination of all sounds that can be eliminated by the Park Service — in this case, all sounds other than aircraft overflights, which are not within the jurisdiction of the Park Service — then all human activity in the Park would be eliminated."

If RRFW has prevailed and all human activity had to be banned from GC, how would the river community have felt then?

Have a good one.

Rich Phillips

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