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Old 02-05-2014   #1
 
Tom Martin's Avatar
 
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RRFW Riverwire - Hualapai Tribe Announces Up-run Tours

RRFW Riverwire - Hualapai Tribe Announces Up-run Tours

February 5, 2014

On Wednesday, January 29, 2014, the Hualapai Nation announced a new tour offering of an upstream excursion of the Colorado River in Grand Canyon beginning this March.

A representative of the Hualapai Tribe stated that while they did not have full information about the tour at this time, the proposed tour will start at the Hualapai Lodge at Peach Springs, Arizona, and involve a 45 minute bus ride to the Colorado River at the mouth of Diamond Creek at river mile 226. Tour participants will then load blue pontoon boats, don lifejackets, and proceed up the Colorado River “about three miles,” according to a spokesperson.

According to representatives of Grand Canyon National Park contacted by RRFW, the Park was unaware of the new Hualapai tour until reading about it in the Hualapai Press Release. Park officials were quick to note that no up-running is allowed above Separation Rapid. Park Service representatives have contacted officials with the Hualapai Tribe and are awaiting additional information regarding details of the new excursion.

The northern boundary of the Hualapai Nation goes to-and-along the south bank of the Colorado River in Grand Canyon, following 109 miles of the Colorado River between river mile 165 and 274. While the reservation boundary follows the edge of the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon Enlargement Act of 1975 gave the National Park Service exclusive jurisdiction to manage all activities that occur on the entire 277 miles of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

Running motorized boats up the Colorado River in Grand Canyon above Separation Canyon at river mile 240 was banned in the 1960’s by the National Park Service for safety reasons and has not been allowed, outside of emergencies, for over 50 years.

Since the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1974, Grand Canyon National Park has managed the Colorado River in Grand Canyon for its wilderness qualities, even though Grand Canyon National Park has no congressionally designated wilderness.

In 2006, Grand Canyon National Park completed a contentious Colorado River Management Plan that reaffirmed the earlier ban and does not allow any motorized up-running of the Colorado River above Separation Rapid.

“This is a completely new motorized recreational activity in Grand Canyon National Park, and for it to occur during the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act would be devastating” said Tom Martin, Co-Director of River Runners for Wilderness. “We support Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent David Uberuaga’s firm stance to uphold resource protection of Grand Canyon National Park and continue the prohibition of this activity.”

The up-run tour would include a stop near petroglyphs that will require a short walk to view, though photos will not be allowed. The tour will then proceed downriver, back to Diamond Creek, where a bus would take participants back to Peach Springs.

Hualapai River Runners is not taking bookings for this new tour at this time, and is encouraging anyone interested in participating to call back in mid-March for cost and booking availability.

The Hualapai Announcement may be found here:
Adventure Overflow: Hualapai Tribe To Offer Year Round Grand Canyon Colorado River Adventure - PR Newswire - The Sacramento Bee

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Old 02-05-2014   #2
 
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One more blemish on an increasingly stresses river...
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Old 02-05-2014   #3
 
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Let's hope Superintendent Uberuaga can stand strong for the resource on this one.
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Old 02-05-2014   #4
 
cedar city, Utah
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Definitely not my preference for use of the river.

That said, I have to say I can't blame them. Its a brilliant idea for tourism revenue. And from a resource standpoint, what will be the harm to the river? Motor rigs already use the entire stretch of the Colorado so we can't really argue about any major pollution issues. Ecologically below there is doomed as it stands.

The user conflict seems to be the only potential issue. I wouldn't die on a cross for preserving those three miles but in then becomes on issue of how far are they going to push it (more miles upriver as time goes on). What is to stop them from pushing 10-20 miles upriver with motor rigs if we become complacent with this use. It will such to have more pressure on Diamond Creek but thats not a legal argument as they own the land.

Might give me more reason to consider pushing on down to Pierce if we have another trip in the future. I hate Diamond Down but giving them funds may not be in the river communities best interest.

Not sure where I will ultimately land on this one. I am definitely conflicted by the complex socio-political nature of this issue. One can't but understand them flexing their muscles for some level of independence outside the odd constraints they experience from the NPS. Me thinks I need to read up on the legal definitions of tribes and reservations before coming to any significant conclusions.

Thanks for update, Tom. One can only hope it goes the way of the tram.

Phillip
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Old 02-05-2014   #5
 
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Hey Phillip, thanks for your thoughts. I remember the novelty of seeing that first helicopter on the ground at Quartermaster back in 1996. We stopped and talked with the pilot and passengers, as we thought they were filming a movie. They offered us champagne. We had taken 30 days to get there, they had taken 30 minutes. We were shocked at how clean they were, and they were shocked we could have gone 30 days without a shower. 18 years later, there are now almost 1,000 (one thousand) flights from dawn to dark every summer day at Grand Canyon West (latest numbers from FAA).

On background, the Hualapai say they have been leading up-run tours for decades, and want to go to Pumpkin Springs at least. I have never seen this, and after asking around, neither have other river runners. In this case, the tour in clearly in Grand Canyon National Park, and brings in issues of safety, more crowding at attraction sites, and more motorization of a wilderness area. Thankfully, the NPS manages the water surface. All of it. Let's see what the NPS does on this one.

Yours, tom
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Old 02-05-2014   #6
 
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This just in. It may be good news. I'll try to reach Dave by phone tomorrow. Till then:

Hi Mr. Martin-

I'm Dave Cieslak and I work with the Hualapai Tribe. Please see below for our statement about the upstream tour issue (https://www.mountainbuzz.com/forums/f...urs-51408.html). We'd really appreciate you updating your post with my quote and please let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks very much!

-Dave

"For decades, the Hualapai Tribe has worked closely with the National Park Service to provide an unforgettable experience for thousands of visitors to the Colorado River. We respect the Park Service's concerns and will postpone the launch of these new tours while we review the regulations and discuss our various options. In the meantime, we invite tourists to enjoy Grand Canyon Resort Corporation's downriver River Runners rafting tour, which is celebrating its 41st season on the river this year." - Dave Cieslak, Hualapai Tribe spokesman

Dave Cieslak
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Old 02-05-2014   #7
 
cedar city, Utah
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Martin View Post
Hey Phillip, thanks for your thoughts. I remember the novelty of seeing that first helicopter on the ground at Quartermaster back in 1996. We stopped and talked with the pilot and passengers, as we thought they were filming a movie. They offered us champagne. We had taken 30 days to get there, they had taken 30 minutes. We were shocked at how clean they were, and they were shocked we could have gone 30 days without a shower. 18 years later, there are now almost 1,000 (one thousand) flights from dawn to dark every summer day at Grand Canyon West (latest numbers from FAA).

Yours, tom
Yeah, the idea of another 3 miles of QuarterMaster like degradation to user experience is less than appealing. The stretch from just above Quarter Master to Pierce sits as my least favorite experience on a river of all time. Gives me greater pause as Diamond Creek was the alternate that allowed for a comparatively peaceful ending to a trip. Seeing pontoons as you are wrapping up the prime multi-day float in the continental US would damper the experience for sure.

Hopefully the entire project never comes to more than a marketing idea for tourist ideas.

Phillip
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