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Old 10-22-2015   #21
San Jose, CA, California
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 433
In regards to permit party thoughts: I hear you, and agree.

Under the current system, in all lunch seasons - individual user applicants will always be at a disadvantage to group applicants. Even more so if the individual has only 1 point in any given lottery. There odds of getting a permit are so low they might as well pick a different section like cat-canyon.

As is such, applicants must choose weather to apply as individuals to every lottery and go once every five to thirty years depending on application points/ volume.

Or to apply as a group for winter permits and go every year.

Furthermore, the average of nine hundred folks that go on private winter rafting trips each year are an incredibly small fraction of the 5,000,000 people that visit each year. So I can see why the park would fail to respond favorably to "us" when requesting changes to the current permit system.

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Old 10-22-2015   #22
cedar city, Utah
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,931
I can honestly say I am against changing the 1 launch a year in the Nov-Mar timeframe as my first trip was a mid-winter. I would not have likely gone had 2nd trip folks been able to flood the lottery.

I could see allowing an amendment to the 1 launch a year rule if a certain # of follow-up lotteries are conducted and no one picks them up. I say that as we are always limited in the #of dates we can pick but there have been dates in follow-up lotteries I have wanted to use.

I also don't fall in line with the idea that winter dates need to be filled. The solitude I experienced on our winter trip was second-to-none. No other experience in the lower 48 came close to having 25+ days and so few people. I think we saw 2 other parties. The only outdoor adventure like that was the solitude in the Wrangell-St. Elias Range. I think we need to protect that potential experience in our shrinking landscape. In the pie metaphor, I am not sure its in our best interest to continue to divide up slices into such small portions as it completely changes the experience and is likely to leave us hungry.


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Old 10-22-2015   #23
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 883
Hi Phillip,

Well put. Your post illustrates very nicely the problem the Park and interested organizations have in approaching any recalibration of the CRMP.

Put plainly, for every person who wants an adjustment of the type Buckman and I have been batting around, there is someone out there who feels the status quo is not all that bad, and things should stay the same. Weighing varied and often competing considerations in a policy environment is not an easy task.


Rich Phillips
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Old 10-22-2015   #24
Othello, Washington
Paddling Since: 1975
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 30
In the past six years I've been on four winter trips where we paid the 16 person cost and never had more than 7-8 people. That's probably typical when notice can be less than 90 days. So the additional user days are lost. Ranger Dave told us years ago that we (private groups) should be pissed about the research trips launching in the Winter. "They're taking trips away from the private groups," was his comment. Tell me that ain't so.
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Old 10-22-2015   #25
San Jose, CA, California
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 433
The policy I am advocating for would increase access within the CRMP 1855 persons per winter range.

In the majority of each year there are up to 6 launches per day.

Adding an extra launch for a total of 2 per day in the winter and doing so through the reduction groups size numbers which on average are not already filled is a reasonable alternative. Which is in line with the goals of the environmental impact study from the current system. Furthermore, it would be an example of Adaptive Managment which the study advocates.


In regards to fear of firewood reduction that is in the impact study to, bottom of page 7: "For example if increased winter use is found to cause a significant
decline in driftwood supplies, the NPS may institute a ban on the collection of firewood for campfires; "
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Old 10-22-2015   #26
Tom Martin's Avatar
Flagstaff, Arizona
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 818
The real inequity in the Grand Canyon is a huge set-aside for prime season pay-and-go commercial access while the DIY public plays a lottery your chances of winning in the summer, even with lottery parties, is in the single digit percentage points. This in a 1.2 million acre National Park managed for its wilderness character.

In the winter, the NPS has set the DIY hurdles the same as in the summer. The hurdles are simply too high to jump. One could argue, as Buckmanriver does, that since the trips are not filling, let's add more launches. Rich P is right in that this is a launch based system. If the trips don't fill, the NPS does not care. One could argue as Phillip does that if the trips are only half full, that is a good thing. But the NPS made some assumptions in the huge changes to the DIY structure they made in 2006. Those assumptions are proving incorrect in the winter and the NPS is so far unwilling to make any changes, even simple ones, that might move toward fullfilling the NPS's own assumptions. I won't go into the painful historical details of the NPS being wiling to make some simple winter changes but some groups blocked the changes.

Now, the NPS is going to roll the 2006 river management plan forward another 10 years, and the concessions contracts will be renewed for another ten years as well.

What do you predict will happen in the next 10 years? Another economic downturn where DIY demand stays strong and concessions subsidized launches go unfilled and unused? It could happen like it did in 2008. The river plan has no way to deal with real demand. The number of GC lottery players has gone up every year since 2006. Do we assume it levels off at some number? Or does it keep climbing?

When will the DIY public get so fed up with this system who's foundations were made in the 1950's and 1960's voice enough complaints to their congressional folks that we see real change in the way river trips are distributed between concession and DIY use?

You have heard of deadbeat dams? Ones that are subsidized to help the few while the many suffer? Well, this is a deadbeat river management plan. It serves ready access to folks who can pay up to $5,790 per person for a Lee's to the Lake trip (GC Dories 2016 price on their website), not counting lodging and travel on either end. It propetuates a concessions trade association to protect the river concessions, not the resource or equitable access. Is this the way you wan to see your National Parks managed?

My sweeite and I just did two back to back Cat trips, second half September and first half October. NO PROBLEM getting a permit. I was amazed and refreshed to run a river where I simply went on-line, placed my request, got the approval, paid my fees ($30 for the permit and $20 per person for up to 14 nights) and went boating. How refreshing!

To those that say the plan is a 50-50 plan and everything really is ok, the pizza analogy comes to mind. We'll split the pizza in half. I get the top half with the crusty ring around the edges, all the toppings, cheese and sauce, while you get... the crusty bottom. Hey, it's 50-50! Enjoy...

Until a critical mass of DIY boaters is willing to go to the mat for a true wilderness river management plan that allows concessions services to compete for commercial clients without set-aside guaranteed launches, do you really think DIY access is going to get better?

It is just possible, and mostly probable, that a Common Pool river plan would still not solve this issue of supply being nowhere near true demand, but we would have a truly fair and equitable river plan, ensuring the protecting the resource and not perpetuating a truly broken system.

Have a Good evening, yours, Ton
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Old 10-22-2015   #27
Canon City, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 427
Here we go. . .
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Old 10-23-2015   #28
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 749
Tom - just out of curiosity, how many years in a row have you been on the grand?
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Old 10-23-2015   #29
San Jose, CA, California
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 433
One way to increase the chance of getting the park service on board with a change through the “Adaptive Management” avenue is to demonstrate the value of the change to the multiple stakeholders.

The benefits to the various stakeholders are as follows:

Folks for protecting the canyon's biome as a whole through maintaining a sustainable biophysical carrying-capacity should know that:

The Park acknowledges through research that current winter trip participant numbers are “consistent with the wilderness and wildlife protection.”

They also acknowledge that when winter user allocation was increased it was during a time when ”vegetation was the least sensitive.”

*“Vegetation is dormant in the winter and trampling impacts have less of an effect.”

There is also a fiscal benefit to the various stakeholders:

Potential NPS yearly funds increase:

User fees of $100 per person per trip: 900*$100= $90,000

Potential yearly outfitter revenue increases from bussing like Pro River, Ceiba and REO, that offer “Painless Private Trips” at about $1200 per person:

900* $1200 =$1,080,000

Potential yearly Diamond Creek revenue increase to the Tribal owners:

900*$65 =$58,500

Lastly, we have the individuals that are simply trying to increase their chance of access in allowing 2, 8 person trips to launch per day during the winter season instead of current 1 launch of 16 person trips per day in the winter season that on average only have 8 participants anyway. As is such, this change would be a beneficial step forward for the majority of all stakeholders.
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Old 10-26-2015   #30
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 34
I'm the original creator of the demand graphs referenced earlier in this thread. By popular demand, I've updated them with the last few years' stats.

First off, here is the updated demand graph:

It's remarkable how consistent the demand is by date on a year-over-year basis.

The odds have gotten a bit better in recent years however.

Speaking of dates, here is the demand by weekday:

Your best bet is a Sunday or Monday launch.

Here's what's happened on a year-over-year basis:

The number of applications has been somewhat steadily increasing, however additional launches being made available combined with the reduction of high points applications coming off the waiting list has contributed to a decreasing number of points competing per launch. This effect bottomed out in 2014, when there was a average of 187 points per launch. The increasing number of applications in the lottery has contributed to tougher odds in the two years since, with the average launch date seeing 245 points competing for each launch. The record high was in the first 2007 lottery, with 411 points competing per launch.

As far as small trips go, your odds are definitely better there. As seen in the first graph, the odds are generally about 10x better on a per date basis. The odds got much better in 2012, when the number of available small trip launches increased from around 45 to about 75.

As of the most recent lottery, the average small trip only has an average of 71 points competing for each launch - much better odds than the standard trips.

I have all the data pulled out into a number of excel tables and databases, so if there is some other stat that sounds interesting, let me know and I'll run it.


~David Delagarza

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