Hi Andy, thanks for your post. Here is some more of the story you may be interested in…
[“Tom Martin helped found the Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association (GCPBA) at a time when the river use allocation was stacked 2:1 in the commercial outfitters' favor and a waitlist over a decade long existed to get a Grand Canyon permit.”]
Today, we still have a ratio of 2,270 self guided river runners to 14,385 concessions passengers (not counting guides) in the summer. And a lottery you may never win. Most folks will not win either.
The “gains” for self guided river runners in access happened in the winter.
[” A more recent GCPBA survey from 2011 also indicates over 75% of private boaters prefer spring and fall trips.”]
While I can’t say if the polls you cited lacked scientific rigger, we can look at the real permit application numbers for self guided river runners in the NPS based lottery figures. Here we see the majority of self guided river runners permit applications are in the summer, with a spike at the end of the motorized boat season.
Really? How about 7 to 6. The issue was contentious then, and still is. Almost half the board then left the organization.
]“They're basically demanding the removal of Glen Canyon Dam, which may be possible but would face some pretty stiff opposition.”]
On this Rich and I agree that Dam management is important. We will disagree of what needs to be done, but we can’t ignore the fact of aging infrastructure with no $ to take care of it, leaving the entire Southwest in a precarious state.
[ “The last point in the scoping comments is very important: "GCNP must prescribe measurable indicators that will drive management actions when degradation occurs and the imprint of human use becomes noticeable." That's a pretty high bar to set.”]
We are talking about Grand Canyon here. Why set a lower bar?
[“To their credit, RRFW also provided an alternative in the planning process that includes the no-motors scenario with two commercial and two private parties of 16 people each launching daily all year round. On the surface, this may sound pretty reasonable to the private boater. Equal access, all oars, 730 launch opportunities yearly for privates and outfitters alike, or a potential 1,460 trips a year going down the Canyon and a total potential of 483,900 user days in the canyon each year. There are currently 229,000 user days allotted between private and outfitters.
[“A couple of things to consider about RRFW's approach:
“A) The most glaring is how to reconcile a proposal that includes up to 1,460 trips yearly and almost half a million potential user days, with a system that requires "management actions when degradation occurs and the imprint of human use becomes noticeable."]
The key point here is a real 50-50 system. Not a system that puts self-guided boaters in the canyon in the winter and calls that 50-50. The RRFW proposed alternative was never seen as a take-it or leave it position. It just shows how other options could work. The present system has 150 user days each day in the canyon in the summer. The RRFW plan has 64. It simply spreads use out.
[“B) Having only oar powered trips would result in very long group to group contacts, thus making the Canyon seem more crowded.” ]
Right now, we have very long group to group contacts between the oar trips on the water, AND additional motor rigs.
[“ From what I understand, computer modeling indicated that under a "no motor" scenario, the pre-CRMP user day allocations would need to have been even further reduced to minimize the contact between trips and achieve an acceptable experience under Park guidelines. “]
The computer model was based on a mixed oar-motor data set and broke down the farther you went to an oar only system. We pointed that out in our comments.
[“Martin has long attacked GCPBA as selling out”]
It’s not just me Andy. The GCPBA made a secret agreement, valid for 10 years, with the river concessionaires. Participants were hand picked to attend by the river concessionaires representative. For all we know, the same meetings are about to start up again for the next CRMP. This time, we may never know about it. The “achievement” only hurt self guided river runners and the very resource itself. More summer crowding, more winter crowding, a lottery you may never win, and the long term issues still unresolved.
[“It should be noted that the first CRMP process was abandoned explicitly because the Superintendent threw up his hands and said it couldn't be done because of the intensity of the conflict between the two groups. The GCPBA worked with the outfitters and eventually brought everyone back to the table. Gradually a workable solution was developed and presented to the Park. “]
Actually, the first CRMP happened in 1979, and the river concessionaires used congressional meddling to keep the allocation increase the plan was to give then when they converted their motor to oar trips.
The Superintendent didn’t throw up his arms. He tried something illegal. I worked hard to get the GCPBA board to litigate the action, and we prevailed. That was before the decision was made to abandon wilderness protection.
[“But acceptable as a compromise plan to accommodate many diverse views.”]
That’s funny. And so incorrect. The vast majority of interested stakeholders were not given a seat at the “table.”
[“RRFW's alternative was not considered workable”]
By the small group of four organizations... The table was mighty small.
[“RRFW has since gone on to pursue their agenda through a lawsuit and has failed so badly the appeals court decision may make challenging future management decisions more difficult.”]
The GCPBA fought the litigation, as did the outfitters trade association. If they had joined us, the outcome might have been different. But they couldn’t, as they had already signed a MOU with the river concessionaires. The results of the litigation reflected earlier decisions stating agencies can make poor management plans.
[“Martin has repeatedly attacked GCPBA as selling out private boaters, alleged backroom deals, and a variety of other things while offering his version of wilderness without motors as if it's a feasible alternative despite his defeats in the planning process and in the courts. “]
Life’s successes are built on a series of many failures. I am sorry we did not prevail. The inequity in river access and lack of wilderness protection in Grand Canyon National Park continues. That is a real tragedy.
[“Maybe Wally Rist wasn't dipolmatic or accurate in using the phrase "nuisance." He's dealt with Martin for years and I'm sure it's getting old by now. “]
Unfortunately, the 10 year agreement the GCPBA has made with the outfitters demands such a lack of diplomacy. Here is the pertinent language:
“6. 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. The Parties will not support any efforts by their respective members to engage in any activities that would, if undertaken by the Parties, be inconsistent with the Joint Recommendations or the terms of this Agreement.”
Andy, I hope this helps you and others understand the complexity of the issues, and the many facets to them.
Happy River Trails, tom martin