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Old 02-17-2010   #31
Park City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 700

Note the make up of the ninth circuit. It is the venue of choice if you are advancing a "stretch of the law" to advance your cause. I don't have a stake in this fight.

When the ninth circuit spanks you, you weren't going to win anywhere.

My perspective. In a battle of commercials and privates, the commercials will win. The ability to enforce against commercials has real teeth. The 1% of jerks in the privates will have little thought towards the future of the canyon or the future of privates using the canyon. We privates have alot to loose in this fight.

Rich, Tom and Andy, Thanks for educating me a little more about this.

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Old 02-17-2010   #32
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 883
Tom's Counting Problem


One final comment.

As I was writing that last post, something was nagging at me. I now recall that it was this paragraph:

"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."

But it was early in the morning, and it sort of didn't register right away that he and I had been duking it out over there too, as well as on Raftzone.

So I went over to the RRFW Yahoogroup and found that recently there have been more than 50 posts about some aspect of this particular piece of river politics. Some of them by me, but many by others trying to sort this all out.

Fifty posts constitutes "little discussion" to Tom. More than all of this thread and the parallel thread on Raftzone combined...

I'll let you draw your own conclusions about why he thought it was so important to add that "unfactual statement". But to me, it just illustrates the degree of skepticism folks ought to have overall about that he's saying.


Rich Phillips

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Old 02-17-2010   #33
sealion's Avatar
Moab, Utah
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 131
Increase access-or decrease???

under the old system- you could go as many times a year as you wanted (if you were pleasant enough for people to want you around) if you were not on the waitlist.-if on the wait list, your second trip took you off.

Now, you can only go once a year. (and my pet peeve- winter trips are shortened to the hurried pace of 25 days!!). This, I think more than any other aspect has allowed more privates to get down there. There were a few people who used to be down there all the time. and many who went at least once a year, and quite a few who were down there 2-5 times a year.

Not all private user days are being used now, many winter trips don't even use the full 25 days allowed.(so why go in the winter I wonder?)

If motors are banned, and commercial/private user days maintain parity, both will have to be reduced. Here's why that's not gong to happen-

The clout commercial companies can muster is huge- many people with money and political connections-including members of congress - take their short trips through the canyon, and want to preserve that status quo. Commercials will not lose that source of revenue, and will fight to preserve that, and have the connections to make that happen. I don't see a large enough populist uprising occuring to cause Congress to change that, hence the legal attempts by rrfw to change it in the courts.

Tom, didn't you use to do multiple trips a year down there as a private boater? Will eliminating motors somehow bring back the possibility of going more than once a year?

The only way I see to make things change is to start planning for the 10 year re-evaluation, and mustering your arguments for that. The courts don't seem willing to change anything right now.

Pet Pitch for the Day: So my plug is to start lobbying for the 30 day winter trip to be reinstated- based on from what I can see from personal experience, many, if not most, winter launches aren't even using their full 25 days. So unless the Park wants to add those unused user days to add more launches, the 30 day option should be reinstated.

Full disclosure- I was a Guide down there for a few trips, and all but one of my privates have been winter launches

Dave Focardi
Moab, UT
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Old 02-17-2010   #34
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
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When RRFW filed the lawsuit, private boaters' allocation had been increased from about 58,000 to about 113,400 user days per year under the current CRMP. Please respond to my request about how or whether RRFW's suit would have increased private boater allocation over the year.

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 02-17-2010   #35
Tom Martin's Avatar
Flagstaff, Arizona
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 817
Andy, that was our goal...

...but now, thanks to the efforts of the GCPBA, getting increased summertime (or wintertime) access for do-it-yourselfers may never happen.

We learned today that the GCPBA is getting donations from the GCRRA, the group representing commercial motor passengers, who's goal is to safegaurd motorized concessions river access.

Oh great! When we look at the GCRRA web site, we see a lot of half truths there as well. Maybe that's where the GCPBA got thier play book.

Meanwhile Rich continues his blatant distortion of the truth (no people in the Canyon...where does it say that anywhere in our briefs or web site...that's the Judges stretching the sound issue beyond reason).

Dave in Moab, we have been lobbying the NPS in the last three years to relax the impediments to rafting the Grand in the winter. It makes no sense to have the same stringent hoops to jump through in the summer and the winter. Returning trip lengths to thier pre 2006 length, decreasing the trip fees, eliminating the one-trip-a-year rule, there are all options we have encouraged the NPS to adopt in the winter through the adaptive management framework. We have recently heard that the GCPBA and the concessions trade association are both against any such changes...

Sealion, it was clear to the other group not working with the GCPBA-GCROA-GCRRA-AW folks that yes, there is a modified alternative between Alternatives B and C that would have greatly increased do it yourself access across the board, and ushered in a motor free Canyon.

RDNEK, if you are still reading this, while i personally don't own or drive a snow machine, and don't think such machines should be in Yellowstone, what i find most alarming about the Yellowstone snowmachine issue is that do-it-yourself folks can't get access without hiring a quide.

In Grand Canyon, DIY folks can't get access in the summer unless they are lucky lottery winners, but they can buy thier way right onto a concessions river trip.

Both of these National Park plans have chilling implications for the future of do-it-yourself recreation.

Best to you all, yours, tom
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Old 02-18-2010   #36
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 883
Three Points


1. Tom continues to avoid providing specific, detailed answers to Andy's access questions. Unless and until he does, the logical conclusion is that his vision for the Canyon would reduce access in a way that is dramatically unacceptable to the mainline private boating community.

2. On potentially banning all human activity in the Canyon... I simply quoted the Court decision to show how reckless the RRFW litigation was. The Court itself highlighted the logical legal consequence of what RRFW was arguing. Putting management decisions for the Canyon in the hands of the courts would have been fraught with this kind of risky unintended consequence.

3. To my knowledge, GCPBA has never received a penny from river concession holders.

Defending against the RRFW lawsuit had phenomenal monetary costs for a small volunteer organization like GCPBA. Before I left the Board, I believe the amount already had surpassed $20,000. Tens of thousands more were projected if the case went on appeal -- as it did. (That was money, by the way that had to be diverted from a wide range of constructive programs and participation in activities benefiting private boaters in important ways.)

A great deal of money to sustain that legal effort came from donations. Somewhere during the litigation period, GCRRA gave an unsolicited donation to GCPBA for its legal fund. GCRRA is a relatively small organization without much of a budget, and it couldn't afford to defend the CRMP on its own. So its president -- who is a private boater, GCPBA member, and occasionally contributes to the GCPBA list -- arranged a modest contribution to GCPBA to help defray the cost of the lawsuit.

Since I haven't been on the Board for quite a while, I don't remember when it happened, or exactly how much was involved. But it would have been a small fraction of the cost of the litigation, and would likely be considered miniscule in terms of GCPBA's income over the years.


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Old 02-18-2010   #37
West By God, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1999
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Posts: 289
I really appreciate everyone's efforts to achieve greater access to the Grand Canyon for all private boaters, but litigation is not and was never the way to achieve that. The legal standard that a Court will use when reviewing the actions of a federal agency is "arbitrary and capricious". The Court will ask, "was the agency's actions arbitrary and capricious or did the agency have a reason to do what they did? That is pretty much the lowest burden there is in law. Its very easy for the agency to find a basis for their course of action and Courts won't second guess their decision. More importantly, this is not some new concept that arose during the RRFW litigation, but rather a longstanding legal principle. So RRFW had to know what what they were up against before they filed litigation. This is also the reason that collaboration is the only way to accomplish anything when dealing with public resource management.
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Old 02-18-2010   #38
Golden, Colorado
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Originally Posted by sealion View Post
(and my pet peeve- winter trips are shortened to the hurried pace of 25 days!!).
25 days is hardly "hurried." Just did it last Feb with 8 layover days and tons of side hikes.

Although I agree that 30 days in the canyon would be an awesome time, trimming it down to 25 was probably a necessity with the increase in winter use. Problem with giving out 30 day launches is you would get someone (like me perhaps ) who would just camp for week straight at Nankoweap or Lower Bass and screw all of the trips behind them out of a primo attraction spot. Cutting it down to 25 forces people to move along a bit more and in general seems to promote better sharing amongst the privates.

30 days might be okay in January. Nobody goes in January...
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Old 02-19-2010   #39
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Flagstaff, Arizona
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 817
Three counter-points...

Hi all, you know, sometimes, no matter how clear you are, folks just won't listen. Let's try again:

1. Rich seems to be unable to realize there were two motor-free alternatives in the last CRMP. One was a very low use alternative, one a very high use alternative. BOTH alternatives greatly increased self-guided summertime launches over what we have today. Even the low use alternative had 246 do-it-yourself launches in the summer compared to the 185 we have today. RRFW and a coalition of groups, including other recreational river running groups, encouraged the NPS to modify a motor-free alternative between B and C, that would have INCREASED do-it-yourself trips and do-it-yourself numbers overall beyond what we have today. The mainstream river running community understands that they are still getting the short end of the 50-50 stick when it comes to summertime access, thanks to the GCPBA.

2. On potentially banning all human activity in the Canyon...Rich loves to point that out, but it's a red herring. We point out a few very real facts, that the GCPBA was used by the river concessionair trade association so the river concessions, with no justification for their actual allotted use, could maintain their lock on summertime access, all couched in a bogus "compromise" where the majority of stakeholders were left out.

3. Rich notes that to his knowledge, GCPBA has never received a penny from river concession holders. We will never know the truth to this statement. What we do know is the GCPBA received funds from a group representing concessions passengers whose #1 purpose is to safeguard their summertime allocation of use. We also do know we were very lucky indeed to stumble on the agreement the GCPBA made with the river concessions that includes this language:

"The Parties will use their best efforts to discourage their respective members from engaging in any activities that would, if undertaken by the Parties, be inconsistent with the Joint Recommendations and the terms of this Agreement"

There is much in the details here to be looked at. The issues are complex, and far from resolved. Self guided boaters are outraged that they were taken for a ride in this "compromise", especially when it comes to summertime trip access in Grand Canyon.

All the best, Tom
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Old 02-19-2010   #40
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 883
Last Word


I'm on the verge of hitting the road, and I'm not very mobile with my internet access. So I'm going to back on out of this, and let Andy and others decide if they've got enough information.

The only thing continued discourse by Tom and me here would prove is something smart folks here already know. That both of us missed our true careers -- we should have been trial attorneys.

So on this one, you Buzzards can be our jury.....

Best to you all.

Rich Phillips

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