Grand Canyon Tramway Bill Introduced - Page 3 - Mountain Buzz
 



Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 08-31-2016   #21
 
Redmond, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1973
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 1,088
This proposal is just scaldingly EVIL.

My small Native Ancestry is incensed.

Quote:
"Prohibit all business activities on thousands of acres of Navajo land on a more than 20 mile corridor along the access road and Highway 89"
That means no silver and turquoise merchants along the road in Indian Country.

This is a very greedy group of businessmen.
They're going after millions in absurd up front stipulations and the little guy/gal out in the heat.

=============

As important as the Grand Canyon is I recognize the rights of Native Peoples to do as they wish with what lands they do have. If it's bookend skywalks and related developments, so be it.

One race conquering another shouldn't allow for more 'we will continue to dominate your lives so much that we will not allow you .........'

Tough.

=============

However my letter will be against this proposal for the way it takes advantage.
I do understand that outsiders like myself should have essentially no significant input, outside of water usage and quality issues.

=============

I secretly hope for a limited Rim development, with other businesses where they sign the guarantees, and at most a trail down to the river(s). No tram. No tapping the rivers for the Rim Lodge(s).

BilloutWest is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 09-01-2016   #22
 
Tom Martin's Avatar
 
Flagstaff, Arizona
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 862
FYI, River Runners For Wilderness sent out our comments today. They are posted below in a PART I and Part II as the Buzz has a limit on thread length. You too can still comment if you have not. Send your e-mail to comments@navajo-nsn.gov, Respectfully, Tom

PART I

September 1, 2016

Levon Henry
Executive Director,
Office of Legislative Services
PO Box 3390
Window Rock, Navajo Nation,
Arizona, 86515


Secretary of the Interior
The Honorable Sally Jewell
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240


Dear Mr. Henry,

Please accept the following comments for Navajo Nation legislation number 0293-16, titled:

An Action Relating to Law And Order, Resources And Development, Budget And Finance, And Naabik'iyati Committees And Navajo Nation Council; Approving The Master Agreement For The Development Of The Grand Canyon Escalade Project; Approving The Funding Application Of Sixty Five Million Dollars ($65,000,000) For The Development Of The Off site Infrastructure To The Grand Canyon Escalade Project; Authorizing The Navajo Nation Hospitality Enterprise To Enter Into A Development And Operating Agreement; Accepting The Approval Of The Withdrawal Of Land In The Bodaway/Gap Chapter; Approving A Covenant Not To Compete; Waiving Certain Provisions Of 7 N.N.C. 1101-1118

As you are aware, this proposal is being put forward by Arizona-based developer Lamar Whitmer. He has offered to construct a tramway to the bottom of the Grand Canyon at the far southern end of Marble Canyon at the Confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers. Mr. Whitmer's proposed construction would occur in Grand Canyon on land ofthe Navajo Nation immediately adjacent to lands in Grand Canyon administered by Grand Canyon National Park.

Since 2002, River Runners for Wilderness (RRFW) has represented a broad spectrum of river runners, wilderness lovers, and American citizens who care about the wilderness river resources in the Colorado River watershed. Our members, now numbering over two thousand with outreach to over 20,000 whitewater enthusiasts, continue to have a deep concern for the future of the wilderness values of the Colorado River watershed and the management of these landscapes.

1) Our members view this construction proposal as akin to building a gondola ride to the top of the Sistine Chapel. We are not alone in considering this area sacred and worthy of preservation, free of development such as Mr. Whitmer proposes. The Hopi and Zuni Tribe, All Pueblo Council of Governors and many Navajo view Mr. Whitmer’s proposal as being horribly offensive and a desecration of an incredibly sacred location. Native Americans are not alone in being stewards of the land. All faiths see open undeveloped landscapes as areas of inspiration, to be safeguarded from future development. Nowhere is this more important than to the entire Grand Canyon, especially including the area Mr. Whitmer intends to develop. His development scheme would violate the very spirit of what is held sacred by all faiths.

2) The potential for litigation against the Navajo Nation if this legislation is passed is very real.

Both the Hopi and Zuni Nations, along with the All Pueblo Council of Governors are on record opposed to Whitmer’s plans, based on cultural ties to the immediate area. Nowhere in the legislation is the protest by these groups mentioned, even though the Hopi Tribe has given the Navajo Nation notice of their intent to litigate if the project is approved. Testimony presented by Hopi Tribal Chairman Honani was not included in the legislative packet.

Page 18 of the proposed legislation notes Whitmer “cannot warrant that litigation will not occur, and that such litigation may cause delays in the development schedule.” When such litigation occurs, legal costs will impose additional financial strain on the Navajo Nation, a financial strain Whitmer will be shielded from. Whitmer can also impose additional financial stress on the Navajo Nation should there be delays in the infrastructure construction (Article 9.2.2, Legislation pg 80-81).

In a Memorandum dated December 18, 2014, to the 2 N.N.C. 164 Reviewers, Counsel for the Navajo Nation Mr. Henry Howe noted The Project Area Includes Lands for which Jurisdiction is in Dispute (his emphasis). In a January 14, 2015, rebuttal to Mr. Howe’s boundary dispute concerns, Albert Damon, then Executive Director, Division of Economic Development, cosigned with Mr. Deswood Tome, then Special Advisor to the President, replied as follows: “While resolving the boundary issue may delay the Project, we agreed with CP to resolve it through direct engagement of the DOI and our congressional delegation. If it requires legal action, as Mr. Howe knows CP and DOJ agreed upon a conceptual form of a litigation agreement with CP funding the costs and that the agreement would be drafted and executed after Council action. It is the Nation's perspective that the Western Boundary of the Navajo Nation is the middle of the Colorado River.

Please note that the Navajo Boundary Act of 1934 placed the boundary on the left bank’s water’s edge at the Confluence, while the 1975 Grand Canyon Enlargement Act placed the boundary one-quarter mile east of the rim escarpment. River Runners For Wilderness and a number of environmental organizations will be very interested in this litigation and may intervene on the side of the National Park Service to protect the Grand Canyon resource from Mr. Whitmer’s ill-conceived development. We will also be visiting with our delegation in support of the 1975 boundary one-quarter mile east of the rim escarpment. Mr. Whitmer will have then successfully pitted the environmental community against the Navajo Nation.

3) We would like to bring to your attention an existing mechanism that allows the Navajo Nation to work cooperatively with the Department of Interior in the preservation and interpretation of the area Mr. Whitmer would like to develop. Most importantly, this would be done through the development of resource-protecting jobs.

It is possible your office is unaware of the fact that such a cooperative approach to the eastern half of the Grand Canyon is a mandate of the Secretary of Interior as directed by Congress forty years ago. The basis for this statement is found in the 1975 Grand Canyon National Park Enlargement Act, PL 93-620, sections 2, 3a, 5, and 6.

As you may be aware, one purpose of the 1975 Enlargement Act was to add to the Park the east side of Marble Canyon, up to and including the eastern rim, from the Little Colorado River north to Lee’s Ferry, if the Navajo Nation agreed to a transfer of jurisdiction.

However, the Navajo Nation made it clear, before and during the Act's consideration, that it was not interested in giving up title to the eastern half of Marble Canyon, and wanted the "existing situation" to continue. There has been no Navajo Nation action since the law was enacted in 1975. The result has been little or no interaction along the eastern side of Marble Canyon between Grand Canyon National Park and the Navajo Nation.

Recognizing that the Navajo Nation may not concur to a title and jurisdictional adjustment, the United States Congress clearly stated that the United States has a national interest in the east side of Marble Canyon for both interpretation of a complete Grand Canyon and the protection of same.

Below are the relevant texts from the 1975 Act, for your consideration and here edited with added emphasis to show relevance to the eastern Marble Canyon lands;

Declaration of Policy

Sec. 2. It is the object of this Act to provide for the recognition by Congress that the entire Grand Canyon, from the mouth of the Paria to the Grand Wash Cliffs, including tributary side canyons and surrounding plateaus, is a natural feature of national and international significance. Congress therefore recognizes the need for, and in this Act provides for the further protection and interpretation in accordance with its true significance. U.S.C. 228A

Sec 3a. Grand Canyon National Park shall comprise, subject to any valid existing rights under the Navajo Boundary Act of 1934, all those lands, waters, and interests therein, … within the boundaries depicted on map 113-20,021 B. U.S.C. 228B

RRFW would like to point out that the named map shows the eastern half of Marble Canyon with a boundary along the rim of Marble Canyon, with this accompanying text:

MARBLE CANYON EAST Proposed Boundary on Canyon Rim
Note: Subject to Concurrence of the Navajo Nation

Sec. 5. No land or interest in land, which is held in trust for any Indian tribe or nation, may be transferred to the United States under this Act or for purposes of this Act except after approval by the governing body of the respective Indian tribe or nation. U.S.C. 228D2

Sec. 6. In the administration of the Grand Canyon National Park, as enlarged by this Act, the Secretary is authorized and encouraged to enter into cooperative agreements with other Federal, State and local public departments and agencies and with interested Indian tribes providing for the protection and interpretation of the Grand Canyon in its entirety. Such agreements shall include, but not be limited to, authority for the Secretary to develop and operate interpretative facilities and programs on lands and waters outside of the boundaries of such park, with the concurrence of the owner or administrator thereof, to the end that there will be a unified interpretation of the entire Grand Canyon. U.S.C. 228E

The United States Congress has “authorized and encouraged” the Secretary of Interior to take an interest in the entire Grand Canyon both inside and outside the boundary of Grand Canyon National Park. That national interest is clearly spelled out as interpretation and protection. The 1975 Act recognized the Navajo Nation’s interest in the welfare and well-being of its people, and their advancement based on section 6 activity. These joint recognitions form the foundation of cooperative action for the planning and implementation of sec 6 facilities and programs.

Interest need not mean only possession in title, nor mean exclusive jurisdiction or administrative responsibility. To see parts of Grand Canyon outside Grand Canyon National Park exploited in a non-natural way, marred by structures inappropriate to the Grand Canyon's natural scene, is to have the integrity of the Grand Canyon violated for the visitor and the nation's heritage. The goals of the 1975 Grand Canyon Enlargement Act are to present, interpret, and protect the Grand Canyon in its entirety. A Grand Canyon with man-made structures imposed on and in it is in violation of the intent of Congress. Congress intended that it is in the interest of the United States to protect the entire Grand Canyon as "a natural feature of national and international significance."

In fact, the addition of these lands, even with the concurrence requirement, was based on fears of inappropriate development below, on and beyond the rim from Lee’s Ferry to the Little Colorado River Confluence.

The Navajo Nation has consistently spoken to the need for development of Western Navajo with job development. On Navajo Nation land east of the Colorado River from Lee's Ferry to the Confluence with the Little Colorado River up to the eastern rim escarpment, the Navajo Nation, prior to 1975, had already identified this area as a Navajo Nation Tribal Park. As such, the Navajo Nation must be involved to the highest degree in an active role of cooperation, concurrence, interest, and approval as the governing body.

The 1975 Act envisioned both the United States and the Navajo Nation as being active and interactive with each other for the protection and interpretation of this region of the Grand Canyon including to develop and operate interpretative facilities and programs on this land using United States financial resources. The Act recognized the interest of the United States and the Navajo Nation in this region of Grand Canyon. Congress encouraged concurrence, cooperation and joint involvement in protection and interpretation of the eastern side of the Grand Canyon. This included the Colorado River in the entire Marble Canyon and adjacent plateaus with the approaches to the Grand Canyon with its unique setting of both geographic and human context. Specifically, such a joint recognition would specify a joint set of criteria for what will be allowed and appropriate in order to develop and operate facilities and programs to protect and interpret this area of the Grand Canyon.

It is clearly in the best interest of both the United States and the Navajo Nation to develop modest infrastructure in this east side area. The interest of the Navajo Nation is not only in the protection and interpretation of this region, but in the welfare of its people and the existing residents of this area. In this case, the Navajo Nation would become a joint interest partner of the United States. The United States would provide appropriate funding and the Navajo Nation would provide locally approved and administered actions. These actions would include employment along with infrastructure development and improvement that provides for the protection and interpretation of this region of the Grand Canyon.

The Secretary is the mandated participant on the part of the United States, to take action to bring about cooperation with the Navajo Nation. Therefore it is the Secretaries duty, as directed by Congress, to immediately express this interest to the Navajo Nation and to begin negotiations with the Navajo Nation to provide for the implementation of the 1975 Act.

To be continued in the next post
Tom Martin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-01-2016   #23
 
Tom Martin's Avatar
 
Flagstaff, Arizona
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 862
PART II

4) The 1934 Navajo Nation Boundary Act dealing with the Navajo Nation boundary states, in part:
There are hereby excluded from the reservation as above defined all lands heretofore designated by the Secretary of the Interior pursuant to section 28 of the Arizona Enabling Act of June 20, 1910 (36 Stat.L 575), as being valuable for water-power purposes and all lands withdrawn or classified as power-site lands, saving to the Indians, nevertheless, the exclusive right to occupy and use such designated and classified lands until they shall be required for power purposes or other uses under the authority of the United States
We emphasize these words: “until (the designated lands) shall be required for … uses under the authority of the United States”.

That is, under the 1934 Act, if the United States requires lands once designated for water-power and power-site purposes for the use of protecting the Grand Canyon from inappropriate development, then the United States may use the Antiquities Act to declare the designated lands as a National Monument with no development allowed. This action is authorized by the 1934 Boundaries Act and the 1975 Enlargement Act, because the designated lands are urgently required to protect the Canyon’s integrity, Grand Canyon National Park’s protection and interpretive purposes, and the sacred and traditional uses exercised since time immemorial by the Navajo and other First Nations.

5) As you know, this legislation requires the Navajo Nation to invest $65,000,000 to build a road and telecommunications, water, and power lines. The benefit to the Navajo Nation has not been proven for this $65 million infrastructure. The funding is solely for the benefit of the Phoenix, Arizona, based developer. The $65 million expenditure allows the developers to avoid having to raise and/or borrow those funds themselves. That is not for the welfare of the Navajo Nation, and any benefit to the residents of Western Navajo would be vague, ambiguous, secondary, even tertiary. Use of the $65 million for the development would actually hurt, not benefit, the welfare of the Navajo Nation. A study under the auspices of the Navajo Nation must be conducted to determine how $65 million of Navajo Nation funding can be best used for the benefit of Western Navajo residents. Judgment can only be made by comparing benefits and costs of this development scheme against other uses for $65 million. The study could be done jointly with the Secretary of Interior, who could bear the costs under section 6 of the 1975 Act. The same could be done for the Environmental Impact Study that certainly would be required.

6) The exchange between Mr. Howe and Mr. Damon raises the issue of identifying grazing permit holders that use the area Mr. Whitmer wants for his own Grand Canyon and Navajo Nation-destroying playground. In forty years of hiking in the area Mr. Whitmer wants to destroy, in twenty or so visits I have consistently seen livestock including sheep and horses, along with actively working homes and camps. Oftentimes I would be approached by one of the Martins, just checking that everything was OK. This is in refutation to the statement that “it was determined that there are not any grazing permit holders using the 420 acre site.” There are indeed families out there using that land. The Wilsons and Martins have run livestock and held ceremonies for generations on the very ground Mr. Whitmer wants. The traditional families have formed a group to oppose Mr. Whitmer and they need your help to stop his shortsighted plans.

7) The legislation, as proposed, gives Mr. Whitmer some stunning control of this project. Whitmer and his team, not the Navajo Nation, design and plan the project entrance at the junction with Highway 89, and the build-out at the rim (Section 2 SCOPE OF SERVICES 2.2.8.2). The Navajo Nation would have no recourse if Whitmer’s team made the entrance or rim construction demeaning to the Navajo Nation. Whitmer also controls Change Orders (2.2.12.5). If the Navajo Nation saw the need for a change in design, Whitmer would not have to change it.

Article 3, ENGAGEMENT OF CP, is another part of this legislation where Whitmer can do whatever he wants, and the Navajo Nation can do nothing about it. The language 3.4. states “The Nation and the Enterprise acknowledge and agree that during the term of this Agreement, neither the Nation nor the Enterprise shall give orders or instructions to employees of CP, including without limitation, the general manager or any other manager or involve themselves in any way with the day-to-day operations of CP, and warrant to CP uninterrupted, exclusive control of the development and operations of the Project, subject to the rights of the Nation and the Enterprise as provided by this Agreement.”

It should be clear to all members of the Navajo Nation Tribal Council that this extreme language is not in the interest of the Navajo Nation.

ARTICLE 7 DEVELOPMENT RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE PARTIES 7.5.3 Mechanic’s Liens, protects Mr. Whitmer from any lien on the land involved in any non-payment dispute. The ability to impose a lien on the land is what contractors use to assure payment. This language is not in the interest of any contractors who may get involved in this project.

ARTICLE 8 OPERATION OF THE PROJECT 8.4.3 Personnel are CP’s Employees states “All personnel employed, whether on a permanent or temporary basis, to render services in connection with the Project (including the general manager and supervisors) shall be employees of CP, and shall not be employees of the Enterprise or of the Nation. Neither the Enterprise nor the Nation shall supervise or direct (or attempt to supervise or direct) the general manager or any of the Project's employees. However, the Nation and the Enterprise shall have the right to communicate with CP regarding the operation of the Project.” This language strips the Navajo Nation of ensuring Navajo tribal members get the benefit of employment in this project. This language makes it difficult to argue this legislation brings jobs and economic development to Western Navajo.

In visiting the area where this project is proposed, one quickly realizes this is an exposed and very windy area. Mr. Whitmer has provided no year-round data on the winds that impact this area. Tramways and high winds don’t mix, and during times of high winds tramway operations must be suspended. There are no projections in Mr. Whitmer’s plans for how many days of the year the tramway will be closed due to high winds.

9) Another glaring oversight in Mr. Whitmer’s plan is tramway rescue. Most tramways are constructed such that should the tramway become non-operational, passengers can be lowered to the ground and walk down to the lower terminal. In this case, this is not an option. Helicopter rescue will be impossible if the tramway breakdown occurs on a windy day. Temperatures inside stalled tramway cars can quickly reach deadly levels in the summertime. The fact that this legislative packet is missing any discussion of tramway rescue, safety and wind shutdown begs the question as to how well Mr. Whitmer, an individual with no track record undertaking a project of this magnitude, has thought this tramway concept through.

10) While Mr. Whitmer has agreed to be responsible for crowd control and policing on the tramway site, the Navajo Nation will be responsible to provide actual Law Enforcement. In the GRAND CANYON ESCALADE OPERATING AGREEMENT Section 3 OPERATION OF THE PROJECT (i)(1) we note that “CP employed security personnel have only the authority of private citizens in their interaction with customers and employees.”

The gateway community of Tusayan at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park has been able to rely on Federal Law Enforcement Officers working for Grand Canyon National Park to cover the bar fights, thefts, fires, plane crashes and serious automobile accidents that occur just outside the Park. These services would not be available to the proposed project, where actual law enforcement personnel may be hours away. Nothing in this legislation defines just how much the Navajo Nation will have to pay for real law enforcement in this area.

11) This entire proposal is based on the need to provide the Navajo Nation, in particular Western Navajo, with economic security. Mr. Whitmer has written this legislation so that the only secure guarantee is that the majority of funds generated will go to him. For seventy-five years, Whitmer and his company will receive between 88% and 92% of all the gross revenue generated. While he goes to the bank, local craftspeople will be excluded from selling arts and crafts on the Navajo Nation provided and paid-for road to his project. This is not a good deal for the residents or the economy of Western Navajo.

12) Finally and most importantly, the heated exchange between the offices of Mr. Howe and Mr. Damon at the highest levels of Navajo Nation government should send a chill through all the Council delegates. Given the contention this destructive proposal has caused, not only within the Tribal Government but to families all across the Navajo Nation out to the Bodaway/Gap Chapter, it is evident the clear path out of this trap set by Phoenix developers is to vote no on this legislation.

The Tribal Council has before them the opportunity to heal the wounds of this ill-conceived legislation by recognizing the earlier good work of prior Navajo Nation Tribal Councils. Navajo Nation elders have already worked to preserve the Marble Escarpment by proclaiming a Marble Canyon Tribal Park. Their work to preserve this part of the Grand Canyon stands as a testament today to the high regard the Navajo Nation has for the Grand Canyon. There clearly are other options for economic development in Western Navajo, as well as protecting the sacred landscape of the Grand Canyon. River Runners For Wilderness encourages you to embrace these exciting economic opportunities for Western Navajo. These opportunities include the use of the 1975 Grand Canyon Enlargement Act to care for the entire Grand Canyon and protect it from Mr. Whitmer’s grotesque development while at the same time allowing for real and sustainable economic development for this important region of the great Navajo Nation.


Sincerely Yours,


Tom Martin
Co-Director
River Runners For Wilderness
PO Box 30821
Flagstaff, AZ 86003-0821

CC:

NPS:
Jon_Jarvis@nps.gov; Sue_Masica@nps.gov; Chris_Lehnertz@nps.gov; linda_Jalbert@nps.gov; Matt_Vandzura@nps.gov

DOI Solicitors/Assistant Secretary/Secretary:
Lance.Wenger@sol.doi.gov; Lawrence_Roberts@ios.doi.gov; Secretary_jewell@ios.doi.gov

Navajo Nation:
nmbegay@navajo-nsn.gov; nelsonbegaye@navajo-nsn.gov; bbennett@navajo-nsn.gov; nbrown@navajo-nsn.gov; tomchee44@gmail.com; acrotty@navajo-nsn.gov; sdamon@navajo-nsn.gov; davisfilfred@navajo-nsn.gov; jonathanhale@navajo-nsn.gov; leejacksr@navajo-nsn.gov; jon12errv@yahoo.com; leonardpete@navajo-nsn.gov; walterphelps@navajo-nsn.gov; ajshepherd@navajo-nsn.gov; tslimjr@navajo-nsn.gov; rsmithjr@navajo-nsn.gov; otso@navajo-nsn.gov; ltnned@yahoo.com; dwight.witherspoon@gmail.com; edmundyazzie@navajo-nsn.gov; hdaniels@navajo-nsn.gov; comments@navajo-nsn.gov; EBranch@nndoj.org

Hopi Tribe:
hehonanie@hopi.nsn.gov; rlyttle@hopi.nsn.us; lkuwanwisiwma@hopi.nsn.us;

Navajo Cameron Chapter and Bodaway-Gap families:
tsomilton@yahoo.com; nashtezchi.tabaaha@yahoo.com; sarana-r@hotmail.com; renaeyhorse@yahoo.com; dawilsonaguirre@yahoo.com;

AZ CD1 Delegation chiefs of staff:
Ken.Montoya@mail.house.gov

RRFW/LR Friends/GC Hikers and Backpackers
jojohnson@rrfw.org; john@livingrivers.org; canyon-stuff@cox.net; grandcanyon4887@gmail.com; scott.marley@yahoo.com; rich.rudow@gmail.com; Doug@gloaming.com; crforsyth@gmail.com; nedbryant@juno.com; cricketharmonies@yahoo.com

GC Trust/Sierra Club/NPCA/GC Wildlands
rclark@grandcanyontrust.org; alicyn.gitlin@sierraclub.org; sandy.bahr@sierraclub.org; jm436mc@gmail.com; kevindahl@npca.org; kelly@grandcanyonwildlands.org; kim@grandcanyonwildlands.org; j.shannon278@gmail.com

GCRG/GCPBA/GCROA
gcrg@infomagic.net; nicolette.cooley@nau.edu; wrrist@sbcglobal.net; john@gcroa.org
Tom Martin is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 09-02-2016   #24
 
AW-Evan's Avatar
 
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 113
Here is the American Whitewater article with some helpful links and our form letter that is super easy to send, just enter your deets, or personalize and then send. We've only got until tomorrow to comment. Please share with friends, family everybody. Facebook post is here also https://www.facebook.com/AmericanWhi...52?pnref=story

Thanks!
__________________
Evan Stafford American Whitewater - Communications and Outreach
AW-Evan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-02-2016   #25
 
Tom Martin's Avatar
 
Flagstaff, Arizona
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 862
Here is a very important comment letter. You can use these concerns in your own comments. Remember, digital comments may be e-mailed to

comments@navajo-nsn.gov
Written comments may be mailed to:
Executive Director
Office of Legislative Services
P.O. Box 3390
Window Rock, AZ 86515
(92 871-7590
Comments may be made in the form of chapter resolutions, letters, position papers, etc. Please include your name, position title, address for written comments; a valid e-mail address is required. Anonymous comments will not be included in the Legislation packet.


Comment:


Dear Navajo Nation Councilpersons;
I am writing to you about the proposed legislation to develop the Grand Canyon Escalade. You no doubt get many comments related to the desecration of the area by putting this massive eyesore into one of the world's most pristine natural places, so I will skip further remarks on that. What I urge the Council to do is at least take a very long look at the nuts and bolts of this proposal. First there is the seemingly unbalanced financing, where the Navajo Nation is on the hook for a minimum of $65 million (and we all know how often budgets on projects like this can be wildly underestimated) but only gets about 10% of the revenue. By my back-of-the-envelop calculations the Navajo Nation would be lucky to see a profit within 20 years, if ever.
Consider also the simple issue of sewage. If a busy day puts 10,000 people on the tram, a minimum of 100 tons of sewage will have to be pumped 3,000 vertical feet and one and a half horizontal miles to the rim. This alone is going to require an incredibly expensive feat of engineering, with the alternative being to treat the sewage at the bottom and release it into the river, something I doubt the NPS would allow.
This of course begs the question of where the water supply for the whole project would come from. At present, the cost to replace the aging system that supplies water to the Grand Canyon National Park is estimated at $150 million dollars. The GCNP gets 4.8 million visitors per year, more than twice the maximum projected visitation for the Escalade, and yet cannot adequately fund basic infrastructure. How a private enterprise will ever make money in this incredibly challenging engineering environment is beyond my understanding.
Will the commercial bus services bringing tourists to the South Rim be interested in driving all the way around the Little Colorado River to the Escalade? If not, to get those two million paying customers it seems to me it would be necessary to build an airport to fly in commuter tourists from Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Salt Lake City. Doing that right at the Escalade would create a terrible noise environment. Will you build an airport for commuter airlines in Cameron? Perhaps the Navajo Council should give some serious thought to how many paying customers they can really bring in, and how much additional infrastructure besides the 20 mile access road will be needed.
If you have not done so already, I will conclude by recommending that you send a delegation to the Hualapai Nation to inquire into the problems they have had with their development partnership, financing further growth, and obtaining water for the Grand Canyon Skywalk.


Thank you for your consideration.
Tom Martin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2016   #26
 
Tom Martin's Avatar
 
Flagstaff, Arizona
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 862
River Runners For Wilderness sent in Supplemental comments before the 5:32 AZ time comment deadline. They are below. FYI, yours, tom

September 3, 2016

Tom Platero
Executive Director,
Office of Legislative Services
PO Box 3390
Window Rock, Navajo Nation,
Arizona, 86515


Secretary of the Interior
The Honorable Sally Jewell
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240


Dear Mr. Platero,

Please accept the following supplemental comments for Navajo Nation legislation number 0293-16, titled:

An Action Relating to Law And Order, Resources And Development, Budget And Finance, And Naabik'iyati Committees And Navajo Nation Council; Approving The Master Agreement For The Development Of The Grand Canyon Escalade Project; Approving The Funding Application Of Sixty Five Million Dollars ($65,000,000) For The Development Of The Off site Infrastructure To The Grand Canyon Escalade Project; Authorizing The Navajo Nation Hospitality Enterprise To Enter Into A Development And Operating Agreement; Accepting The Approval Of The Withdrawal Of Land In The Bodaway/Gap Chapter; Approving A Covenant Not To Compete; Waiving Certain Provisions Of 7 N.N.C. 1101-1118

As you are aware, this proposal is being put forward by Arizona-based developer Lamar Whitmer. He has offered to construct a tramway to the bottom of the Grand Canyon at the far southern end of Marble Canyon at the Confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers. Mr. Whitmer's proposed construction would occur in Grand Canyon on land ofthe Navajo Nation immediately adjacent to lands in Grand Canyon administered by Grand Canyon National Park.

Since 2002, River Runners for Wilderness (RRFW) has represented a broad spectrum of river runners, wilderness lovers, and American citizens who care about the wilderness river resources in the Colorado River watershed. Our members, now numbering over two thousand with outreach to over 20,000 whitewater enthusiasts, continue to have a deep concern for the future of the wilderness values of the Colorado River watershed and the management of these landscapes.

Our supplemental comments are as follows:


1) Clearly there is broad public support for the purposes of protection, interpretation, visitation and local economic benefit to the region of the Navajo Nation encompassed by the existing Marble Canyon and Little Colorado River Tribal Parks. A limited focus project for profit benefiting off-reservation developers should not be rushed or forced to approval but requires substantive evaluation. Once this evaluation is complete, a plan can be formulated by the Navajo Nation to accomplish the purposes of protection, interpretation visitation and local economic benefit for the region.

Before the Navajo Nation takes up the legislation proposed by Confluence Partners LLC, we urge the Council to authorize an environmental and economic impact statement to survey the existing Marble Canyon and Little Colorado River Tribal Parks.

This study would be conducted to evaluate how to best facilitate protection, visitation, interpretation and local Navajo economic benefit.

The purpose of the study would be to review the impact of the proposed LLC project as well as other proposals that would accomplish the above purposes.

This study would be carried out by appropriate Navajo Nation agencies with the participation of other affected First Nations.

In addition, under Sec 6 of the 1975 Grand Canyon Enlargement Act, the Navajo Nation can request the cooperation and assistance of the Secretary of Interior in providing study resources including funding and planning resources.

This study would include impacts on existing residents and users, road and access routes, potential locations for visitation facilities within and bordering these two tribal parks, as well as a detailed evaluation of the environmental and economic effects of all proposal.

This environmental impact study should be undertaken before the Navajo Nation Tribal Council takes up any consideration of the Confluence Partners LLC proposal. The legislation proposed by the Confluence Partners LLC should be set aside.

The above study should be completed and reported for review within one year to the Navajo Nation, the Tribal Council and impacted Chapters, along with other affected First Nations. As stated above, once this evaluation is complete, a plan can be formulated by the Navajo Nation to accomplish the purposes of protection, interpretation visitation and local economic benefit for the region.

2) Page 73 of the proposed legislation mentions a 4,000 square foot restroom at the bottom of the tramway at the Confluence (legislative packet pg. 73). River runners who visit this area are required to carry out all solid waste by Grand Canyon National Park regulation. (“It is the responsibility of each boat party to remove its solid human waste from the canyon.” Noncommercial River Trip Regulations, Section C, Pg. 16, Revised Oct 26, 2015)
The legislative packet notes that solid waste generated will be containerized (and removed one assumes) but that liquid “Wastewater treatment will be by means of a containerized, packaged bioreactor system that treats wastewater producing reclaimed water that can be used for landscape watering, eliminating problems with groundwater contamination associated with traditional septic systems or the excavation and disturbance of building a conventional wastewater treatment plant.” (Legislative packet pg. 31, Construction 4. Page 15).

The typical human bladder discharges 300ml of fluid at one time (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urinary_bladder). The tramway proposal estimates a target of 1,800,000 annual visitors (Legislative packet pg. 45, Executive Summary pg. 7). Construction design would need to ensure the ability to handle that number of restroom users. That is the equivalent of 1,426,000 gallons of urine effluent a year, or 3,900 gallons a day of urine effluent. That’s a lot of “landscape watering.” The proposal does not say what sort of landscaping the developer intends to do around the buildings, since the buildings are on concrete pillars. Clearly, the existing desert vegetation does not require that much liquid, even in the form of rainwater. Very few other plant species, including vegetation from the wettest spots on the planet, can tolerate that sort of effluent watering. Hence, the effluent would need to be discharged into the adjacent Colorado River.

This is problematic as the 1934 Navajo Nation Act identifies the Navajo boundary as being where the land ends on the river bank, not in the middle of the river. If the effluent discharge were somehow allowed to flow into Grand Canyon National Park, this concentrated effluent, along with the pharmaceuticals such liquids contain, would immediately flow into one of the last refuges of the endangered humpback chub at the confluence of the Little Colorado and Main Colorado rivers.

3) The developer of this tramway scheme has based annual visitation figures on growth of helicopter and land based tours for the Hualapai Nation. The legislative packet makes no mention of the Federal Aviation Administration hardship waivers that were approved for the Hualapai Nation. These waivers allow for uncontrolled growth of tour helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft flights.

The Navajo Nation has 27 times the land base and 300 times the population of the Hualapai Nation. Claiming a hardship based on the population geographical size of the Navajo Nation would be harder to do. Without those waivers, the growth of visitation to Grand Canyon West would certainly not be what we see today.

Given that these FAA waivers might not be forthcoming to the Navajo Nation, the visitation numbers coming to the proposed tramway development on the may be greatly overestimated.

4) Typically, a project of this magnitude and importance would receive the greatest level of Navajo Nation environmental, archeological and cultural compliance scrutiny. The Navajo Nation offices that normally provide this expertise will not be allowed to do this important work. In this case, the compliance work will be done by a contractor chosen by the developer. (Legislative packet pg. 29, Executive Summary pg. 13)

Page 230 of the legislation, titled CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT FOR PROJECT AREA BY AND BETWEEN THE NAVAJO NATION AND CONFLUENCE PARTNERS notes “it is CP who is charged with the responsibility to conduct the necessary studies to complete the environmental, cultural and archeological clearances”. “CP” is the developer of this project. One assumes it is not standard practice on the Navajo Nation to allow an outside developer to conduct their own environmental, cultural and archeological clearances for their own project.

This proposal should be no different, especially given that the proposed development is just 100 yards uphill from the last habitat refuge of the endangered humpback chub. This alone should provide enough of an injustice to the Navajo Nation to not pass this legislation.

We would like to take this opportunity to repeat that the Navajo Nation Tribal Council has before them the opportunity to heal the wounds of this ill-conceived legislation by recognizing the earlier good work of prior Navajo Nation Tribal Councils. Navajo Nation elders have already worked to preserve the Marble Escarpment by proclaiming both Marble Canyon and Little Colorado River Tribal Parks. Their work to preserve this part of the Grand Canyon stands as a testament today to the high regard the Navajo Nation has for the Grand Canyon.

There clearly are other options for economic development in Western Navajo, as well as protecting the sacred landscape of the Grand Canyon. River Runners For Wilderness encourages you to embrace these exciting economic opportunities for Western Navajo. These opportunities include the use of the 1975 Grand Canyon Enlargement Act to care for the entire Grand Canyon and protect it from inappropriate development while at the same time allowing for real and sustainable economic development for this important region of the great Navajo Nation.


Sincerely Yours,

Tom Martin
Co-Director
River Runners For Wilderness
PO Box 30821
Flagstaff, AZ 86003-0821

CC:

NPS:
Jon_Jarvis@nps.gov; Sue_Masica@nps.gov; Chris_Lehnertz@nps.gov; linda_Jalbert@nps.gov; Matt_Vandzura@nps.gov

DOI Solicitors/Assistant Secretary/Secretary:
Lance.Wenger@sol.doi.gov; Lawrence_Roberts@ios.doi.gov; Secretary_jewell@ios.doi.gov

Navajo Nation:
nmbegay@navajo-nsn.gov; nelsonbegaye@navajo-nsn.gov; bbennett@navajo-nsn.gov; nbrown@navajo-nsn.gov; tomchee44@gmail.com; acrotty@navajo-nsn.gov; sdamon@navajo-nsn.gov; davisfilfred@navajo-nsn.gov; jonathanhale@navajo-nsn.gov; leejacksr@navajo-nsn.gov; jon12errv@yahoo.com; leonardpete@navajo-nsn.gov; walterphelps@navajo-nsn.gov; ajshepherd@navajo-nsn.gov; tslimjr@navajo-nsn.gov; rsmithjr@navajo-nsn.gov; otso@navajo-nsn.gov; ltnned@yahoo.com; dwight.witherspoon@gmail.com; edmundyazzie@navajo-nsn.gov; hdaniels@navajo-nsn.gov; comments@navajo-nsn.gov; EBranch@nndoj.org

Hopi Tribe:
hehonanie@hopi.nsn.gov; rlyttle@hopi.nsn.us; lkuwanwisiwma@hopi.nsn.us;

Navajo Cameron Chapter and Bodaway-Gap families:
tsomilton@yahoo.com; nashtezchi.tabaaha@yahoo.com; sarana-r@hotmail.com; renaeyhorse@yahoo.com; dawilsonaguirre@yahoo.com;

AZ CD1 Delegation chiefs of staff:
Ken.Montoya@mail.house.gov

RRFW/LR Friends/GC Hikers and Backpackers
jojohnson@rrfw.org; john@livingrivers.org; canyon-stuff@cox.net; grandcanyon4887@gmail.com; scott.marley@yahoo.com; rich.rudow@gmail.com; Doug@gloaming.com; crforsyth@gmail.com; nedbryant@juno.com; cricketharmonies@yahoo.com

GC Trust/Sierra Club/NPCA/GC Wildlands
rclark@grandcanyontrust.org; alicyn.gitlin@sierraclub.org; sandy.bahr@sierraclub.org; jm436mc@gmail.com; kdahl@npca.org; kelly@grandcanyonwildlands.org; kim@grandcanyonwildlands.org; j.shannon278@gmail.com

GCRG/GCPBA/GCROA/DBP
gcrg@infomagic.net; nicolette.cooley@nau.edu; wrrist@sbcglobal.net; john@gcroa.org; Rivergrl@gmail.com

Tom Martin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-03-2016   #27
 
Tom Martin's Avatar
 
Flagstaff, Arizona
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 862
The General Public comment period closed 20 minutes ago. Now the next step begins...
Tom Martin is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Topic Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
RRFW Riverwire Grand Canyon Tramway Update Tom Martin Whitewater Rafting 0 02-12-2016 03:32 PM
RRFW Riverwire Tramway Free Grand Canyon Comments Needed Tom Martin Whitewater Rafting 13 01-02-2015 01:09 PM
Tramway-Free Grand Canyon needs 11 more signatures Tom Martin Whitewater Kayaking 7 12-25-2012 01:55 PM
Grand Canyon Tramway - Just Say NO Tom Martin Whitewater Kayaking 4 12-15-2012 03:06 PM
Change.org petition against Grand Canyon Tramway Tom Martin Whitewater Kayaking 0 07-31-2012 05:38 PM

» Classified Ads
Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 01:11 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.