Grand Canyon Update - Mountain Buzz

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Old 11-06-2006   #1
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,011
Grand Canyon Update

I recently had the privilege of meeting with NPS Grand Canyon River District Ranger Mike McGinnis and River Office Permits Program Manager Steve Sullivan, at the annual meeting of the Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association. They provided the following information of interest to private boaters seeking Grand Canyon trips.

Ranger/River Issues

Future construction at Lees Ferry will involve modest relocation of the current ranger building. GCPBA has offered to provide additional input and support for a shade pavilion-type structure, which was not approved as part of that relocation project.

The Park will be instituting staffing pattern changes, including additional river patrols, during the newly-established winter boating season.

The Park staff continue to be concerned about firewood use in the new winter season, and fully support the concept and use of propane fire-type devices (one of which was displayed for them and the members at the meeting). A firewood monitoring plan is under development. Private boaters should leave all “historic” firewood (representing long-ago high water events) undisturbed.

There is no likelihood of constructing a new Pierce Ferry takeout. Also, the South Cove takeout will be relocated a short distance downlake, due to dropping levels of Lake Mead.

Helicopters will be present at Whitmore April 1 through September 15, but not later than 10:00 am each day.

The Park is working on an inventory that will lead to development of a campsite guide that should assist in alleviating some competition for camps under the new system. GCPBA may be assisting in some aspects of this project.

A web-based river education program is under development for later in 2007.

The Park has no interest in trying to regulate or restrict small river groups to certain campsites.

Regulations regarding upstream travel will remain altered; the stopping point will not be changed from Separation to Quartermaster.

Permitting Issues

The secondary release of non-selected lottery dates and declined launch dates from the old system will take place in about two weeks. Only three or four people selected in the lottery failed to pay for their permit, and those dates will be re-lotteried as well.

At this time, the lottery computer program is not automatically debiting lottery winners’ credit cards for the $200 or $400 fees. In future lotteries, winning a lottery slot will trigger an automatic debit upon selection.

It was noted that some winter launch dates in late 2006 and early 2007 may be unclaimed because of the short time available to put together a trip after the first lottery.

The lottery for the 2008 season will probably be held in May 2007; the lottery for 2009 may be held even earlier in the season.

About 600 people on the waiting list have elected to take refunds so far; about 1,500 people on the list still have not decided whether to take a refund or remain in the system.

The Park urges boaters to use the potential alternate trip leader (PATL) option more frequently than was the case in this lottery. No post-lottery PATL selections will be permitted, which means some trips might not launch when they otherwise could have, if they had identified an PATL.

The Park will be using the CRMP adaptive management strategy for river issues, as well as adjusting the permitting process.

There is no reason to think that unclaimed winter dates will automatically cause those dates to be lost in future lotteries.

Once the original lottery fee has been paid, there will be no extra charges for consideration in the secondary lotteries.

It is estimated that as many as 250 dates will be awarded by lottery in the May 2007 lottery for the 2008 season.

No decision has been made on whether there will be a call-in system for cancellations within 30 days of a launch date.

GCPBA will continue to keep members and other interested parties advised on developments in these and other areas.

Join and support Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association at , and help us continue to provide active, ongoing private boater representation on Grand Canyon issues.

Rich Phillips

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Old 11-06-2006   #2
e-town, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 274
That was an awesome update! Thanks for all of your hard work. I just got off of a trip and I feel that the canyon could sustain an increase in user days, IF, everyone gets along. we ran into some commercial trips that were less that accomodating and willing to work with us. they we willing to sacrafice some safety and teamwork to dend boats ahead to get the sites they wanted. but it was a great trip and if anyone needs a PATL let me know!
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Old 11-06-2006   #3
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,011

Thanks for the vote of confidence (insert shameless plug for folks to join GCPBA and help us continue to work on these issues, pass on this kind of information, and represent them directly with the Park and other interested parties.)

Sorry you had the conflicts with the other group. Of course under the new CRMP (starting in January), there will be fewer launches per day (down from 9 to 6) in the main season, and the commercials will not be running at all in these cooler months. That should make things somewhat better in terms of campsite availability and groups contacts when you get that PATL slot.

Best to you.
Rich Phillips

Join Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association at , and support active, ongoing private boater representation on Grand Canyon issues.
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