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Old 02-07-2014   #11
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Grand Junction, Colorado
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I don't care what the treaties say. My question is - - and it is just a question - -what would be the harm of a few upruns at the lower end of the canyon near the Diamond Creek take out? If cultural sites that belong to the Hualapai are otherwise inaccessible, would they not have the right to sue for access?

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Old 02-07-2014   #12
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Hi Buck,

There already are many opportunities for tribal peoples to go down the river to visit cultural sites. I've been on several private trips where we've interacted with them. On one occasion, we all sat on the beach at Nankoweap for hours, honoring a request by a tribal group to privately go to the granaries to hold a special ceremony. Sometimes tribal parties charter a trip, perhaps with an administrative permit. I know up on Westwater and Cat, they sometimes go as passengers on government patrols, and that may even happen on the Grand.

From what I've read, the justification for the type of trip involved here is not to visit religious or cultural sites that are inaccessible with a downriver trip. We're talking about typical tourist fun runs.

As I see it, this setup would seemingly reduce logistical expenses quite a bit. They would give folks a ride up and down through some rapids, while not requiring the Hualapai to truck their snouts back up to Diamond from Pearce Ferry.


Rich Phillips

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Old 02-07-2014   #13
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Hi Buck,

Meant to add this to my prior post and forgot. It's something Earl Perry pointed out yesterday.

The stretch from about 219 - 224.5 is one of the most crowded in the canyon. A node forms there almost every night as nearly every trip positions itself for takeout at Diamond after ten the next morning. This proposal would add more traffic in the node area -- visualize sitting in camp enjoying the solitude and then having HRR blue snouts zipping up and down in front of your camp. It also would impact conditions at the takeout, which already can be a zoo, as both commercial and private trips derig on a relatively small beach. Of course it is a tribal takeout, but the area immediately upstream is a critical area for managing the final stages river running in the GC, and its under Park control.

Someone has already voiced a concern they could increase their takeout fees if this isn't permitted. But the risk for them in that is that more people will then go to Pearce (which can be easily done in just one day with a night float), and they'd lose a corresponding amount of revenue.


Rich Phillips
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Old 02-07-2014   #14
Join Date: Feb 2005
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Superintendent Dave Uberuaga
Grand Canyon National Park
Box 129
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023

February 7, 2014

Via E-Mail

Dear Superintendent Uberuaga,

As a follow up to my earlier inquiry on this matter, I am writing as President of Grand Canyon Private Boater's Association, to register our opposition to any prospective upstream boating in the Colorado River above Diamond Creek. We understand from media sources that the Hualapai tribe has considered including such a trip option through their Hualapai River Runners operation. We recognize that subsequent media reports indicate that the Hualapai have postponed their plans. Still, we are not content with that. This proposal should be promptly met with head on opposition before it can re-emerge.

GCPBA believes that any such upstream travel would constitute a serious breach of the Colorado River Management Plan and certain federal regulations. We also believe such activity would significantly impact the wilderness character of that portion of the river as well as violate a longstanding traditional prohibition against upstream travel above Separation Canyon.

Another point to consider is that the stretch of river from about mile 219 to mile 224.5 is one of the most crowded in the canyon. A node forms there almost every night as most trips position themselves for takeout the next day. Trips running upriver would add another crowd in the node area and at the takeout. That makes the area immediately upstream of Diamond Creek critical for managing all river running in the GC.

Grand Canyon Private Boaters’ Association will absolutely and vigorously support park and DOI action opposing this, or any similar activity by anyone, not just the Hualapai River Runners. We believe that if this activity goes forward, it may lead to other CRMP infringements throughout the river corridor and possibly elsewhere in Grand Canyon National Park. The impact of these types of exploits can do nothing but have a severe negative impact on the character and quality of river running in Grand Canyon, as well as have major detrimental consequences for the Canyon ecosystem. We are hoping that quick preventive action by the Park, will influence the tribe to permanently drop consideration of this prospective trip offering.

Thank you for your continued willingness to work with GCPBA on matters of mutual interest. Please be assured of our cooperation in this important matter and understand that we will insist on rigid enforcement.


Wally Rist, President
Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association
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Old 02-07-2014   #15
Join Date: Sep 2006
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I certainly can see where the Hualapai would want to increase their cashflow from their strategic location. What I don't understand is why they have not developed the resource that they have.

After 3 weeks on the river, how much would you pay for a hot shower before your 24 hour drive home? What would you pay for an ice cream?
How much for an ICE COLD MICRO BEER? (Understand there are cultural/tribal issues with this one.) How much would you pay for someone else to clean the groovers?

After 3 weeks of not reaching for my wallet and 3 weeks of deprivation (LOL)
I don't care how much they charge, I WANT ICE CREAM!!!

My point is they are sitting on a frick'in Gold Mine and they have not developed the potential revenue. Even the trips taking out down river would stop for a shower and ice cream!
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Old 02-07-2014   #16
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Grand Junction, Colorado
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Thanks Rich. I'm impressed by the nodes argument and, more importantly, by the issue of crowding that could occur, I suppose, at the Diamond Creek take-out.

Hey guys, I'm just an old river-rat who happens to have a soft-spot for the underdog, including continental natives. I saw how aggressively the fishermen up in Alaska were toward the tribal fishing, property boundaries, access issues, etc. Was somewhat offensive that the "white man" who builds fences could be so damn selfish about someone else wanting to build a fence because they were "natives."

OK, OK - - the point is, we ought not resent the Hualapai's presence. They were there first, right? So, keeping an open mind is all I'm saying.

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Old 02-07-2014   #17
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Flagstaff, Arizona
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Hi Rich, that is a good letter Wally wrote.

Earl did a good job of articulating the crowding issue I was referring to in the 213 to 226 Mile section above Diamond.

BCJ, haven't seen any posts where folks are resenting the Hualapai presence on Hualapai land. We are concerned about resource protection in Grand Canyon National Park.

But I'll tell you a story that may help you reconsider just who the underdog is...
I remember the novelty of seeing that first helicopter on the ground at Quartermaster back in 1996. We stopped and talked with the pilot and passengers, as we thought they were filming a movie. They offered us champagne that they had flown in. We had taken 30 days to get there, they had taken 30 minutes. We were shocked at how clean they were, and they were shocked we could have gone 30 days without a shower. Next year there were two helicopters, just a few more... and now, 18 years later, there are almost 1,000 (one thousand) aircraft flights, mostly helicopter, from dawn to dark every summer day at Grand Canyon West (latest numbers from FAA), along with two docks that run a dozen 20 foot hard hull boats a mile up and down the river by the docks all day long. The number of flights drops to about 500 per day in the winter.

The most remote wilderness area in the entire US is now full of low flying aircraft noise from dawn to dark. A number of river runners now exit at Diamond or do a night float to not have to boat through the helicopter scene.

Given this history, a few turns into many more, and the resource we all cherish is no more.

Hope this helps, yours, tom
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Old 02-07-2014   #18
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Nice story Tom, but I've run a few river miles too and don't need anyone to tell me what wilderness is and/or what resources are. There are people all over this planet, including the Hualapai, the Tlingit, and hundreds of other tribes. I don't need "help" understanding. I'm just asking some questions.
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Old 02-07-2014   #19
cedar city, Utah
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I tend to agree with BCJ's approach. Several of my friends from Canada have helped educate about the biases and prejudices we duplicate even with the best of intentions. I have been challenged by finding that balance but I am trying to be more considerate on how we treat first nations and tribal relations.

Its a challenge to view the world outside of our own personal self-interest (and by extension the stakeholder groups were are aligned with). Unpacking issues like this is anything but easy or simple.

My personal interest is clear: the less the better as far as development in the Grand. Western law tends to side with that in this case. But my education informs me to understand the validity of how the tribe see these issues (or at least their commercial voice, as I understand each tribe has factions and multiple voices). How can I blame them for wanting to exploit a tourist opportunity in this fashion? How can I blame them for potentially challenging the legal structure that has always treated their interest in largely a tertiary manner that is mostly hindsight?

And one caveat for me in these conversations....this currently seems to have minor resource protection issues but significant visitor experience consequences. We are not talking about a pristine river environment here as it stands. We are talking about a heavily trafficked stretch of river that already has noticeable issues with pollution (chemical and ecological like invasive fish species). I don't see much potential for long term degradation to the river environment as the current proposal stands. If they take it to installing docks, etc then we have some localized short-to-medium term resource issues but that is not currently stated. An inch becomes a mile pretty quick so I can understand that pre-emptive concern if that explains the "resource protection" terminology.

On that caveat though is how people perceive experiences can be distinctly different then the actual condition of the environment. And that is the argument I can support: protecting that last day/night on the river from upstream traffic. Its a delicate place to be mentally as you begin to process the end of an immense trip.

Wishy washy on this one. Not sure where I will land on this one, if I ever find a comfy place to reside.

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Old 02-07-2014   #20
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Orem, Utah
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Originally Posted by Tom Martin View Post

In my 45 years of river running in Grand Canyon, I have never seen them above Diamond Creek. One report notes a deadhead uprun of two blue boats by guides to the river above the cable while they wait for passengers. That does not a tour constitute.

All the best, Tom

Tom Martin
River Runners For Wilderness
Tom, I have seen them twice in the last ten years. Once was above Three springs, one boat with only the driver as he drove by he was yelling something about all this land belonged to them and we shouldn't be there. On Sept. 9, 2011 we were taking out at diamond on a private and we had to wait while they rigged twice as many boats as normal. Half the boats went downstream on their regular daily, the other half of the boats were loaded with VIPs, not sure what that meant to them, and they headed upstream with 5 deflated paddle boats along with paddles for everyone. There plan was to go up around the pumpkin, which as you know is more than three miles, inflate the paddle boats and have all the VIPs in the paddle boats coming back down to Diamond. More of the Hualapai were there at diamond cooking dinner for said guests so they planned on it being an all day float with lunch on the river. That's 5 snouts and five paddle boats going up and back in a 12 mile section. I am glad we weren't taking out the next day or we would have been right in the middle of that on our last full day in the canyon.
Tom Hansen

You had me at 'Hey, Row'
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