I guess I have to start out by noting that RRFW's position was soundly rejected by both Federal District and Federal Appeals courts. It reads well, has genuine merit in some respects, but ultimately was unpersuasive with regard to the issues. So what we have now -- and will have for the next few years -- is what I'm talking about.
The numbers I provided are not mine -- they come straight from the management plan's (Grand Canyon National Park - Colorado River Management Plan Grand Canyon National Park (U.S. National Park Service)
) supporting materials. And they're pretty clear...
Not all the increase in private allocation was in the winter, but the entire late fall/winter/early spring allocation went to private boaters. If you want a pure no-motor environment, there are six and a half months of it in the new plan -- including many beautiful late fall and early spring launch opportunities.
But the benefits are more extensive than that. For private boaters, spring, summer, and fall launches alone increased significantly -- exceeding the entire private allocation under the old system. The number of commercial launches decreased. The motor season was shortened. The maximum size of commercial groups was lowered. The small group option was added for privates.
Plus, other features of the plan eased pressure on the Canyon and helped reduce on-river contacts. For instance, the total number of launches each day dropped from nine to six. The total number of trips on the river at any time dropped from 70 to 60. The maximum number of people on the river at one time was reduced to 985 from 1,095. Again, not my figures, but those contained in the management plan that was adopted.
Sure there was a numerical increase in winter launches. That's because before the new plan there were no winter trips at all.
Were there elements in the plan that don't sit well with me? Sure. Things like the one trip a year rule. I personally would have a large and small trip launch every day of the year. I also would like to have seen a different method for the lottery to make its automated choices.
But overall, the new plan resulted in a fairly decent compromise between a lot of very different competing interests, and objectively provided significant access gains for private boaters. Perfect, no. Lots better, absolutely.
To be quite clear, this little three-person consortium of ours is not a guide service; we're just folks looking for a participatory role in a private trip. And the dates we're potentially available coincide with the motor season established by the Park. The rest of the year there are no motors allowed.
And ironically, you've mentioned something that a few folks have raised as an argument for a winter motor season. A big S-rig could easily carry a yurt, several cords of firewood, and all the warm clothing you could ever want down there. Not to mention the extra safety margin that a big boat like that can provide under some circumstances for cold weather boating.
Another irony -- I'm fundamentally a rowing guy. I've taken the very same twenty foot cat down the Grand and other rivers under oar power, and will likely do it again. But there are situations where a motor trip makes sense for me. And all we're looking to do here is find someone else for whom our kind of setup makes sense as well.
Have a good one.