RRFW Riverwire – Grand Canyon Groups Stop Change to One Trip Rule - Mountain Buzz

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Old 04-02-2010   #1
Tom Martin's Avatar
Flagstaff, Arizona
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RRFW Riverwire – Grand Canyon Groups Stop Change to One Trip Rule

RRFW Riverwire – Grand Canyon Groups Stop Change to One Trip Rule
April 2, 2010

Grand Canyon National Park has reversed a decision to relax the one-trip-per-year rule during the winter to make unclaimed winter do-it-yourself river trips more attractive.

The reversal came after three groups representing commercial river services objected to the change.

The one-trip-per-year rule was adopted by the Park in 2006 as part of the revised Colorado River Management Plan (CRMP), and applies to both commercial passengers and self-guided river runners year round.

In June 2009, River Runners for Wilderness (RRFW) encouraged the Park to consider an exception to the rule to help alleviate the large number of self-guided trip permits that go unclaimed in the winter months.

The NPS responded positively in July of 2009. In a letter written to RRFW, the Park agreed that evaluations of the number of trips that either cancelled or went unclaimed despite follow-up lotteries, argued for a possible modification of the policy.

The change was to take place in early November, in time for the 2009-2010 winter season.

Tom Martin, RRFW co-director, noted “It makes sense for winter self-guided river trip applications to operate under different rules than summertime applications.”

However, in late October the Grand Canyon River Outfitters Trade Association, Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association, Grand Canyon River Guides, and the Grand Canyon River Runners Association submitted a joint response to the Park Service requesting a postponement of the rule change only days before the Park’s decision to ease the winter permit restrictions was to be announced.

Subsequently, the three commercial groups submitted letters in early December opposing the change.

Grand Canyon River Runners (GCRR) Vice President Pamela Whitney wrote that “After discussing this proposal with our river community colleagues, GCROA, GCPBA & GCRG, we are in agreement that it is too soon to make a change of this sort to the CRMP.” Grand Canyon River Runners represents the interests of concessions motor boat passengers.

But Jo Johnson, Co-Director of River Runners for Wilderness points out that the 2006 CRMP is at the half way point for the life of the plan. “The NPS was beginning to make needed changes, especially after acknowledging a consistent problem over five winters that can be easily corrected.”

Lynn Hamilton, Grand Canyon River Guides (GCRG) Executive Director, stated in her letter the belief that the implementation of the proposed change could jeopardize the level of cooperation between her group, the Trade Association, the Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association and commercial river runners.

Johnson remains unconvinced. “It’s too bad these groups put their cooperation with each other ahead of seeing self-guided river runners get on the river in the winter.”

Superintendent Steve Martin reversed the decision to relax the rule in a January 4, 2010 letter, “for the foreseeable future”. The Park offered no reason for the reversal.

According to Park officials in response to a RRFW Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association did not submit formal or informal comments about the proposed change.

The correspondence RRFW received and cited in this Riverwire through that FOIA request may be seen at http://www.rrfw.org/documents.

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Old 04-02-2010   #2
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My fingers were crossed.
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Old 04-03-2010   #3
Crested Butte, Colorado
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thats too bad....
Why would anyone have a problem with filling empty user days.
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Old 04-03-2010   #4
flagstaff, Arizona
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The Spin Doctor

It's a great idea, born years before by Bob Marley among other folks. That the park is talking about the idea shows how truly progressive Steve Sullivan and the rest of the hardworking crew at the South Rim truly is. Other administrations might not even entertain the ideas because it only makes more work for them. Hats off to the frontline folks trying to continually improve the system. Time and testing should eventually produce this idea to fruition as it's more difficult than just saying "go". Monitoring this system will be complex,take time, manpower, etc.. Unfortunately, Tom's manipulative riverwires are meant to stir things up and cause controversy I think the rrfw wiki is well done but the manipulative riverwires give me the creeps

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Old 04-03-2010   #5
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Brady shoots at messenger

Hi Brady,

Taking shots at messengers is easy for anyone to do...so let's stick to the facts we have available...

If you did your homework, you'd see the NPS was only days away from making the change...until the GCPBA, GCRR, GCROA and GCRG intervened.

The NPS did not cite any reason for the reversal, like trouble in retooling the on-line lottery to remove winter travel from the one-trip-per-year rule.

If, as you surmise, making trips easier to get in the winter is too complex for a system already famous for its complexity ( and please cite NPS correspondence that allowing winter trips would be too hard to do) one could argue it would behoove the NPS to start attempting the change sooner than later.

all the best, Tom
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Old 04-03-2010   #6
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Originally Posted by Tom Martin View Post
If you did your homework, you'd see the NPS was only days away from making the change...until the GCPBA, GCRR, GCROA and GCRG intervened.

In the post above, and in the 8th paragraph of the original Riverwire you started the thread with, you state that GCPBA actively worked to prevent repeal of the one-trip-per-year rule. However, at the end of the Riverwire, you correctly state that GCPBA did not formally or informally submit comments on the issue. In future posts, please stick with the correct version of the events: that GCPBA did not actively work to prevent repeal of the one-trip-per-year rule.

For others who may be tempted to believe Tom's implications that GCPBA has sold out private boaters' interests and is doing the bidding of the motorized commercial outfitters, please bear in mind that, to paraphrase one former GCPBA Board member:

GCPBA has consistently taken the position that we are not going to take issue with individual parts of the CRMP until appropriate. We believe the appropriate time is when the formal review for the next CRMP begins.

Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 04-03-2010   #7
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Andy, please read the Riverwire again...

Hi Andy, thanks for your post.

The Riverwire clearly states the GCPBA, along with the three commercial groups, requested the NPS "postpone" the announcement.

Once the announcement was postponed, the GCPBA stayed mum as the riverwire points out.

GCPBA board members have "not" refuted the GCPBA participation in asking for a postponement of the announcement with the other groups.

That said, you have a great day, as we may have more in common then we know. Yours, Tom
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Old 04-03-2010   #8
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What gives with GCPBA?

Brady and Andy,

You guys are on the wrong side with this one.

I don't know what was decided between the outfitters and GCPBA or why, but it's clear that GCPBA decided to side with the outfitters here. That appears to be contrary to the interests of their members. This is especially true given that they typically frame their disagreement with RRFW as one of access versus preservation (suggesting that RRFW is over-zealous in their pursuit of preservation).

So now that RRFW is advocating for more access, GCPBA says no. What gives? Can either of you think of a good reason? Is there a good reason, or is it just an opportunity to poke a stick in Tom Martin's eye?

As for the outfitters, well, that's easy to see: fewer private launches means more potential commercial customers.
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Old 04-04-2010   #9
flagstaff, Arizona
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I don't like the conspiracy theories, and the sinister insinuations all the time Throw on the martyrdom and elitist stuff. It gets old. We don't have to be victims to get things done.

I'm for it. Sounds like RRFW is for it. It will happen without the finger pointing and sniveling.

Why not start out with something like this? Hey everyone the park is thinking about relaxing the 1 year rule in the winter? What do you think about it? Good or bad I want it all, please write me Tom Martin and I will organize some feedback.

Applaud you for your passion,

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Old 04-04-2010   #10
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We weren't involved

I find myself doing what I said I would not do, and that's get involved in any more discussions with Tom, as you'll never win, he will twist the facts and rewrite history, twist, manipulate and cherry pick facts to prove his point. I will however, promise that this will be my only post on the matter.

GCPBA has consistently taken the position that we are not going to take issue with individual parts of the CRMP until appropriate. We believe the appropriate time is when the formal review for the next CRMP begins.

That is our position, and has been our position. It will continue to be our position until the revision of the plan. We did not actively lobby for, or against this change that the NPS was considering. We submitted no comments, either formal or informal on the matter.

2 years previous, we had asked the park service in our annual meeting if this was something they would consider relaxing, and they decisively replied that it was not an issue that was open for consideration. Period. We dropped the issue.

When consulted, we replied that we knew nothing about it, were not consulted by the NPS about it, were not actively lobbying for any change to the plan, the next thing we heard about it was from the park service at the annual GCPBA membership meeting where they announced their decision.

There's nothing more to it than that. Period. No smoky backroom deals, no collusion with anyone as is implied in the RRFW Haywire.

We do work with other groups, in that we discuss issues that affect us and the boating community. Discussion of issues between stakeholders is a good way to get a wide perspective on how issues affect the various constituents and helps us and others determine how they might respond to an issue. The fact that we work with other groups certainly is not a secret and has, in the eyes of many, yielded positive results for the boating community.

Working in isolation like RRFW does seems not to have been a productive channel to row.

Tom points out that it's been 4 years into a 10 year plan, but what Tom neglects to point out is that in those 4 years, the lottery has been weighted by the waitlisters taking their pre assigned dates out of the lottery pool. It's my understanding that the park service realized this, and decided not to make the change simply as there was no evidence that the lottery, without the weighted dates of the waitlisters, was working or not. I'm sure the economy being in the shambles it is has an effect on the dates being used too.

So, there you have it, Tom's repeated attempts to vilify GCPBA and imply that we're against access, in bed with the outfitters, and the epitome of an evil anti private boater organization are nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to try to make RRFW a relevant force in the private boating world. He would like you to believe that cooperation and discussion is bad.

Other groups won't invite RRFW to discuss things as Tom has the "my way or the highway mentality" and won't consider things like cooperation and doesn't realize that sometimes concessions are a way to get at least some of what you want, if there's simply no way that getting all you want will happen.

His RRFW Haywires still continue to twist facts to suit his perception of how the world should run according to Tom Martin, and while interspersed with just enough fact to be believable, generally spend more time running down someone else to make Tom look like the knight in shining armor.

While I laud his passion, I am disgusted at his methodology. It's been long held that you can't build yourself up, by running others down. Again, this holds true.

Give it a rest Tom.

Marshall Nichols
GCPBA Secretary
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