GCPBA Newswire, March 31, 2008
As a continuing part of GCPBA's outreach and liaison program, GCPBA Vice President Rich Phillips met in Flagstaff on March 17, 2008 with
GCNP staff Linda Jalbert, Mike McGinnis, Steve Sullivan, and Kirstin Heins.
Lottery Update – Steve Sullivan provided updated information on the recent lottery for 2009 launch dates. The Park has not yet developed a system for automatic payment of fees once a lottery applicant has been selected.
Steve emphasized the advantages of people using the RSS feed option on their internet browser, in order to stay current on lottery issues. He also continued to emphasize the Potential Alternate Trip Leader (PATL) option for lottery entrants. While conceding that the current arrangement is not ideal – and indicating he was still looking for
ways to improve this feature – at present there will be no changes in the PATL structure.
Sullivan expressed a concern over last-minute cancellations and the problems of filling those trips on such short notice, and stated he is
looking for ways to improve that situation as well. He went on to point out that while winter aunches are not as fully subscribed to as other seasons (with an average of 4-5 per week actually launching), there is a definite interest in winter dates.
CRMP Implementation Issues – Linda Jalbert commented on the Trips At One Time (TAOT) situation in May, when 21-day trips are being passed by 16-day trips launching a few days later. The effect of this overlapping is to have more trips on the water at one time than
planners had originally envisioned.
One of the benefits of the 2006 CRMP is that even though private trips were doubled and commercial trips slightly decreased, with better
launch management the number of trips on the water at one time, for the most part decreases on a daily basis, thereby providing a sense of less crowding. The exception to this is during this May overlap anomaly. Looking at ways to remedy the situation, a minor shortening of trip length at this time of year (presumably coupled with a corresponding lengthening of early fall trips) is being considered, but nothing has been decided as yet. A survey procedure is being developed to further assess this issue.
Visitor Experience Planning – Kirstin Heins advised us on the research that will be conducted during the coming season. Known issues at
Nankoweap (general traffic concerns) and Whitmore (backups due to 10:00 AM helicopter limits and shorter trip lengths) will be primary
areas of concern to be studied. Kirsten will be at Nankoweap in April as part of this effort to ascertain current use patterns. The Whitmore
situation may also be causing some crowding problems at Havasu, which also will be explored.
Firewood Use – Linda Jalbert and Mike McGinnis both spoke of their growing concern about firewood collection in the canyon.
There continues to be evidence of trees branches being broken off and the removal of materials used for re-vegetation projects as fire wood.
In evidence are other improper fire techniques including parties leaving stacks of firewood at camps which is not harmonious with GCNP goals of providing a pristine site for the next party using that area.
It also was noted that the recent high volume flow may have stripped formerly available wood from the Canyon in the 88 miles above Phantom.
Linda and Mike strongly encouraged the use of propane fires and tiki torch-type illumination for evening socialization. As was the case for several other topics covered in this meeting, they stated that they hoped education and persuasion would bring about the desired outcome. Impact on the firewood supply was noted by river rangers immediately upon the commencement in October of the driftwood fire season.
Motors – Mike McGinnis, commented that stowed motors of an appropriate size, and with limited amounts of fuel, will be permitted to launch at the Ferry for use only on the Lake Mead portion of a Grand Canyon trips going beyond Diamond Creek during the non motor season. This is a decision that calls for correspondingly responsible behavior by private boaters – not using those motors in the regulated portion of the Canyon.
On the subject on motor use during the no motor season, GCPBA is concerned that there has been officially-sanction-ed, non-emergency motor use during the no motor season by various agencies of the government, and we are considering the best means available for elevating that particular aspect of the motor issue for additional review.
Comments on the High Flow Experiment – There were no notable boating incidents associated with this event. A number of Park officials (including Superintendent Martin, who rowed a portion of the river himself) were on the water during that time. Preliminary indications were that a number of new small beaches were created or restored, and that other larger beaches were enhanced significantly.
Volunteer Issues – The Park's new volunteer coordinator (Todd Nelson) is on staff, and is in the process of reviewing and developing procedures for the use of volunteers. While there may be limited opportunities for on-river volunteer positions, GCPBA is continuing to pursue this possibility. One such joint activity might be a proposed 2011 beach/campsite inventory and assessment trip.
Collaboration on Education – Linda, Kirstin and GCPBA's Richard Martin are exploring ways in which GCPBA can assist the Park in developing
additional educational options as required by the CRMP.
Hualapai Issues – Access to attractions within the Hualapai Nation (river left, starting at National Canyon, above the high water line) has become an issue as the Hualapai have voiced a permit is needed for that access but have yet to state whether or not permits for access are available. Mike provided an update on this area, particularly
regarding his efforts to streamline private boater access to information and permits for the use of Hualapai lands. Ongoing contacts with Tribal officials have not as yet resulted in any change
from the current ambiguous status.
Pearce Ferry Rapid – The new, emerging rapid, while not a part of the GCNP, therefore not a direct GCNP management issue was discussed with emphasis on it's effect on both commercial and non-commercial river running.
If the rapid were to become worse it would impact commercial river trips. For the most part, this will be a matter for Lake Mead NRA and the outfitters to work out. At least six of the current 16 commercial permit-holders would be adversely impacted if jet boat traffic were impaired in that locale, so there is considerable interest in this
topic in the commercial outfitter arena. However, for the present, projections do not suggest any curtailment of private boater traffic. Boaters are cautioned that this is a real rapid, with maneuvering required, and with the additional advisory to be on the alert for jet boats in the area. Needless to say, use of PFDs and other typical cautions – including scouting if felt necessary – are in force.
Small Trips – The small trip category is one of the notable changes in the 2006 CRMP. Small trips were created to allow more private boater
summer season use without creating adverse social interactions on the river, it was also adopted to better utilize the increasing number of
small camps. The increase in the number of small camps, and the corresponding decrease in the number of large camps is a result of on going beach sand depletion and the invasion of exotic and native plant species closing in on open sand areas.
It is hoped that the recent experimental flood flow (March, 200
will help to replenish sands on beaches suffering from sand erosion.
Park staff expressed the hope that river parties can communicate cooperatively, avoiding the need to impose restrictions on where small groups may camp. To help with trip planning, a camp list is now available in spreadsheet form on the Park web site, with field-checked information on camp size and other information included.
Park staff expressed the hope that river parties can communicate cooperatively, avoiding the need to impose restrictions on where small
groups may camp. To help with trip planning, a camp list is now available in spreadsheet form on the Park web site, with field-checked information on camp size and other information included.
Inter group communication is a key to maintaining social harmony between trips competing for campsites. Leaders of small trips are urged to take advantage of the many smaller camps, and to use customary consideration for the needs of larger groups when working with those groups to develop plans for "which trip stays where" - which may be necessary on a daily basis.
Related information on many of these topics is available at HYPERLINK "Grand Canyon National Park - River Management (U.S. National Park Service)
mgmt/-riv_mgt.htm From the main park site, (nps.gov/grca) click on management (on the left side) then river management.
Useful website highlights include: the launch calendar, campsite list with tentative size classifications, all current regulations, and the
NPS orientation DVD broken into chapters for viewing online or downloading into an mp3 player or an iPod. Also included are the Research, Monitoring & Mitigation Program: final Visitor Experience Monitoring Plan, tentative monitoring schedule for 2008, trip reports from last year's integrated resource monitoring trips, a sample
campsite atlas page, and a copy of the High Flow Experiment boater trip report.
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