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.
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.
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 http://www.gcpba.org/content/view/3/7/
, and help us continue to provide active, ongoing private boater representation on Grand Canyon issues.