Uprun of Grand Canyon Postponed - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 02-07-2014   #1
 
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Uprun of Grand Canyon Postponed

Hualapai plan for upriver trips runs afoul of Grand Canyon regulations; tribe postpones launch | Star Tribune

Hualapai plan for upriver trips runs afoul of Grand Canyon regulations; tribe postpones launch

by: FELICIA FONSECA , Associated Press
Updated: February 6, 2014 - 6:45 PM

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. The Hualapai tribe has shelved a plan to run rafting trips upriver in the Grand Canyon after it ran afoul of the National Park Service.

The tribe's reservation in northwestern Arizona extends for more than 100 miles along the Colorado River and includes the only road to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. But the National Park Service governs the waterway, and its regulations prohibit upriver travel on most of it.

Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga said the agency learned through a news release of the tribe's plan to take passengers about 3 miles upriver from Diamond Creek year round. The Hualapai's plan to launch five boats upriver per day also would have exceeded the limit on river trips.

"This is a regulation that applies to all river users, and it would be in direct violation of the regulations in the book," he said. "We'd rather not get to that point of trying to deal with enforcement but actually convincing them this isn't safe and it isn't a good visitor experience."

Dave Cieslak, a spokesman for the tribe, said late Wednesday that the tribe would hold off on its plans until it talks with the Park Service.
"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," he said. "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."

The Hualapai's daylong whitewater rafting trips that launch downriver from Diamond Creek are unaffected.

Hualapai River Runners manager Earlene Havatone said the tribe has done upriver excursions in the past and simply planned to reintroduce them on March 15.

The tours were billed as a cultural experience. Passengers would leave from a tribal lodge in Peach Springs and travel down a primitive road to the river's edge where they would board a motorized raft and travel upstream about 20 minutes to a lava cliff with petroglyphs. Havatone said passengers would learn about the Hualapai's encounters with the U.S. cavalry, traditional trading partners on the river and other cultural tidbits.
"A lot of people don't have that opportunity," she said. "It's an authentic experience."

The Hualapai's announcement of the river trips baffled groups representing both commercial river trips and self-guided trips. John Dillon, executive director of the Grand Canyon River Outfitters Association, said upriver travel above Separation Canyon, where two tributaries enter the river from the north and south about 40 miles from Lake Mead, clearly is prohibited by the Park Service. "We're not allowed to deviate from that plan," he said. "We can't just think of an idea we'd like to do and do it. I think that's where everyone had pause."

Tom Martin of River Runners for Wilderness said he's not entirely convinced that the Hualapai's plan won't resurface. He said it would create danger in having motorized rafts and nonmotorized rafts coming at one another in a stretch of the river that already is congested. River trips launching at Lees Ferry near Glen Canyon Dam either can take out at Diamond Creek or continue to Lake Mead in Nevada. Everybody has to "play by the rules, and if you're not going to play by the rules, we're going to have to respond," Martin said. "So when we see a statement that says 'we're going to postpone this,' we're still very, very concerned."

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Old 02-07-2014   #2
 
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Three miles from a road doesn't sound like wilderness to me.
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Old 02-07-2014   #3
 
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Good point! Unless you are in Alaska, almost all of the lower 48 states wilderness area boundaries have a road along the boundary somewhere. Three miles from a 20 mile long dirt road is common in many wilderness areas. Oh, and the article didn't include the Hualapai mentioning they want the tour to go up past Pumpkin Springs, or 14-15 miles upriver from the road.
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Old 02-07-2014   #4
 
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Hi,

Here's something RRFW and GCPBA can agree on.

Not only would this violate a long-standing internal Park regulation (dating to the 1960's) against uprunning above Separation, it would violate the CRMP.

And then there are other reasons, starting with the Park managing the river corridor as wilderness. Some may think that should totally exclude motors. But there are very few in the GC boating community who would agree uprun, round trip excursions are consistent with wilderness values.

Remember as well. The 210-224 corridor is sort of a parking place for trips waiting to take out at Diamond the next day. Envision how your final day on the river will feel if you have blue HRR snouts scooting up and down in front of your camp.

And yes, if the camel gets its nose under the tent (as in some ways it already has with the docks in the river at Quartermaster in trespass of Park-claimed terrain below the high water line) then the Diamond to Pumpkin route could be next.

FWIW.

Rich Phillips
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Old 02-07-2014   #5
 
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Hi Rich, good points. Here's another one not to forget. The Park also limits the number of trips on the Colorado River at any one time upstream of Diamond Creek in order to control on-river congestion and attraction sight crowding. In order not to exceed this limit of 60 trips at any one time, Grand Canyon National Park recently proposed reducing thirty public river trip lengths from 21 days to 18 days in the second half of April. The Hualapai up-run tours would blow that number right off the charts, as the "temporary" helicopter use at Quartermaster has blown up and out of control.

Yours, tom
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Old 02-07-2014   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k2andcannoli View Post
Three miles from a road doesn't sound like wilderness to me.
The smallest designated wilderness area in the US is less than 6 acres. Most wilderness areas are surrounded by roads, and the furthest you can get from from a maintained road in the lower 48 is ~20 miles (southeast corner of Yellowstone NP on the border with the Bridger/Teton National Forest.)

3 miles from a maintained road is actually quite far, sadly enough. Many areas that are closer to roads than that are managed for wilderness characteristics. It seems to me like the grand, of all places, should be managed for its wilderness characteristics. In my opinion, that should mean no more motors except for rescue. no new roads/trail development (beyond maintenance), and no tram to the little C.

I'd have to check a map, but my bet is that the confluence of the Little C is not much more than 3 miles from a maintained road in absolute distance. They are trying to build a tram to the bottom of it.

Thanks to those who helped put the brakes on the up running.
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Old 02-07-2014   #7
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Are the Hualapai just trying to take back what was taken from them or what? They could play rough, increasing the take out fees. Lots to think about.
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Old 02-07-2014   #8
 
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Hi Buck,

You put your finger on touchy subject. Some people will look at this as tribal land that white people have appropriated, and think we should concede to the tribes in cases like this. Others will have the opposite view. A lot of cultural and moral freight informs those beliefs.

But if you approach it from a current legal point of view -- noting that none of the tribes challenged the CRMP that embodies the current uprun ban -- there is little or no question the Park has full authority to regulate river operations within its boundaries. There is a sort of low level (never contested in court) dispute about where the boundary is -- middle of the river, bank, traditional high water mark, or elsewhere. But no rea challenge over the Park's on-river authority.

So for all practical purposes, the Park could continue to enforce its "no uprun" policy, as it has since the 60's. Whether they would actually do so in the face of direct Hualapai action is another question.

FWIW.

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Old 02-07-2014   #9
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I'm with you Rich. Just my nature, perhaps, to bring it up. Seems like continental natives from here to Alaska get a knee-jerk reaction whenever they try to do anything that encroaches on the landed gentry's entertainment. I hear a lot of bitchin' about the Hualapai fees but haven't had a negative experience, on a personal level, with anyone associated with the tribe ever. As more and more people encroach, we may just have to make space. But for now, I'm comfortable living with it the way it is. Probably won't make that many more downriver runs myself. Don't recall a whole lot of congestion those last few miles either, last time I was there. Just something to think about.
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Old 02-07-2014   #10
 
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Hi BJC,

No takings here. The Hualapai Reservation language of 1883 noted the boundary went north "...to the Colorado River" and "...along said river..." and in 1975, Congress set the boundary of Grand Canyon National Park on the south bank, while, of course, the Hualapai boundary remained unchanged as it was before 1975, to-and-along the river. The Park goes to the south bank; the Hualapai boundary goes north to the river; two ways of saying the same thing, namely that the river surface is in the Park.

As to increasing the Diamond Creek toll road fee, the higher they raise the fee, the more river runners float on by and go to the Pearce Ferry Ramp or South Cove.

Dave, Good points about roads and wilderness areas. The nearest "maintained road" to the proposed tramway, that actually gets bladed and repaired, is actually on the North Rim (Cape Royal Road). On the east side, it's eleven miles to the nearest rarely bladed dirt road.

As for putting the breaks on this, please send a thank you to Superintendent Dave Uberuaga, Grand Canyon National Park, PO Box 129, Grand Canyon AZ 86023. All we did was make sure we had a good handle on what the Hualapai were proposing, then make sure the NPS heard about it. The NPS has the clout here.

As Rich points out, this has not come to a pushing match yet. That said, I asked the head of Law Enforcement at the South Rim, Bill Wright, what I should do if i get photos of Hualapai doing up-runs above Diamond. He suggested photos be mailed to [email protected]

I am worried as the Hualapai say they are postponing this tour, not giving up on the idea. They also say they have done this tour in the past, and run up to Pumpkin Springs and beyond. In my 45 years of river running in Grand Canyon, I have never seen them above Diamond Creek. One report notes a deadhead uprun of two blue boats by guides to the river above the cable while they wait for passengers. That does not a tour constitute.

All the best, Tom

Tom Martin
Co-Director
River Runners For Wilderness
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