RRFW Riverwire – GROUP ALLOWED TO LAUNCH - Mountain Buzz

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Old 01-31-2007   #1
Tom Martin's Avatar
Flagstaff, Arizona
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 928

January 31, 2007

Members of a non-commercial river party who had their permit revoked shortly before their scheduled launch on January 27, 2007 have been able to claim an unused permit.

The group had originally intended to launch from Lee’s Ferry, Arizona, for a thirty day rafting trip through Grand Canyon to South Cove at Lake Mead. On the morning the group was to launch, the river runners were approached by law enforcement officials and a drug-sniffing dog. The dog detected drug paraphernalia and according to a trip participant, three ounces of marijuana were seized.

Five of the trip’s members were taken into custody and appeared before a judge that afternoon in Page, Arizona. Misdemeanor possession charges were brought against all five individuals, who were released on their own recognizance pending a future court date.

Despite the National Park Service’s policy which allows any individual who has registered to call in and claim any available trip opening, a remaining member of the group, Mike Grijalva, was denied when he immediately requested to claim the aborted trip launch. Mr. Grijalva had previously registered for the lotteries held in the fall of 2006 and was eligible to claim any unclaimed or cancelled date.

The group was assured by the River Permits Office on the following Monday that there were unclaimed river trips on Feb 1, 2 and 4. However, Mr. Grijalva was again denied one of these permits on the basis of his association with the 5 individuals who were arrested and later released.

One of the river party members called Senator Harry Reid’s office, and one of his staff contacted Grand Canyon National Park officials on his behalf. Subsequent negotiations between Senator Reid’s office and Grand Canyon National Park officials today resulted in Mr. Grijalva being awarded an unclaimed launch date for February 2, 2007.

According to Mr. Grijalva, his initial request was to include all the trip participants, but the Park Service was hesitant to allow this due to the earlier infraction. Mr. Grijalva then requested that the nine individuals not charged in the initial investigation be allowed to participate in the new launch and this request was granted.

“It’s a shame the folks who were not implicated were initially denied even when they followed park procedures,” said Tom Martin, Co-Director of River Runners for Wilderness. “It shouldn’t take Congressional intervention to get them what they are perfectly entitled to as citizens.”
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Old 02-01-2007   #2
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 498
So what this seems to mean is the Park Service can ban individuals for misdemeanor offenses! Unbelievable. sj
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Old 02-01-2007   #3
Tom Martin's Avatar
Flagstaff, Arizona
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 928
good question

Hi Sj, i'm no legal scholar, but it does strike us as curious that the NPS would not allow the Five to go too. They will be tried in county court. Is it the NPS's place to penalize them further? Again, it would be interesting to hear some thoughts from folks with a law background. Tom
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Old 02-01-2007   #4
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
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A minor triumph that at least some of the group got to go, but to exclude the rest of the group still sucks major. Losing a grand canyon trip has got to be the one of the heaviest fines leavied for a misdemeanor. Unless the NPS has existing regulations that state that it can exclude people from the park for misdemeanor offenses this is still complete bullshit. As a reminder this is "OUR" land, the NPS is just regulating it. The courts take care of the legal stuff, and the NPS should take care of letting folks get down the grand if they had a permit.
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