Grand Canyon - GCPBA RiverNews 1/15/17 - Stow Away Motors For Diamond Down - Mountain Buzz
 

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Old 01-16-2017   #1
 
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Grand Canyon - GCPBA RiverNews 1/15/17 - Stow Away Motors For Diamond Down

GCPBA RiverNews 1/15/17 - Stow Away Motors For Diamond Down Allowed Again!

GCPBA has just received excellent news from Grand Canyon National Park regarding the use of a motor on fifty miles of flat water of the Colorado River in Grand Canyon from below Diamond Creek to the Pearce Ferry takeout. For those of you who don't want to row the slow current against possible wind, here is our announcement:

The Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association would like to extend our thanks to Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent Chris Lehnertz for an important adaptive management change she made to the Colorado River Management Plan. This change is very meaningful to noncommercial Grand Canyon river runners wanting to use the Pearce Ferry takeout rather than the Diamond Creek takeout.

GCPBA requested of the Park that noncommercial river trips again be allowed to stow a motor on a boat at the Lees Ferry ramp, to be used only below Diamond Creek on the flat water stretch of the Colorado River. We are now allowed to do so. Clearly Supt. Lehnertz heard us, and she approved and implemented the following change.

The new regulation reads, “Non-motorized trips launching from Lees Ferry in the motorized season may stow or pack motors from the launch but are prohibited from using them above Diamond Creek for any reason. Trip leaders must declare and acknowledge to the Lees Ferry Ranger that there is a motor and must sign a motor waiver form provided by at Lees Ferry by the Ranger. All equipment and registration as such for a motor vessel must be present.”

We have been talking with the National Park Service about this issue since 2006, when the Colorado River Management Plan was last revised.

New noncommercial river trip regulations that resulted from the 2006 revision did not allow stow away motors. After a conversation GCPBA had in 2006 with Grand Canyon National Park personnel, the regulations were rewritten to allow for them.

However, approximately 1-1/2 years ago, GCNP reversed this, putting back the "no stow" regulation. This was due to reported violations of the regulation; motors were reportedly being used above Diamond. Some violations were observed by river ranger patrols.

GCPBA immediately challenged this change and advocated for a reversal. After discussions with the previous Superintendent and Chief Ranger in 2015, and Supt. Lehnertz and current Chief Ranger Matthew Vandzura during 2016, including at GCPBA's October, 2016, meeting with GCNP personnel, we have secured the reversal.

GCPBA member John V. was another voice in achieving this change. His letter to the Park echoed our sentiments about this matter, and was no doubt helpful. It included, "I'm now physically taxed to row the miles from Separation to Pearce". (This is approximately 40 miles, and can be against upriver winds). "Picking up a motor (at Diamond) is not practical and is costly,... in the $700 range".

GCPBA greatly appreciates Supt. Lehnertz and Chief Ranger Vandzura for hearing our request and implementing this change. We look forward to continuing our relationship with the Park and encouraging further improvements and opportunities for private boaters to enjoy "the trip of a lifetime" on the Colorado River through Grand Canyon.


GCPBA RiverNews is a service of Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association.
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Old 01-17-2017   #2
 
Park City, Utah
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That's great news! Thanks GCPBA.
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Old 01-17-2017   #3
 
Salt Lake City, Utah
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I was "personally impacted" (i.e., affected directly) by this ridiculous "policy" last year (2016) and luckily was able to find an outfitter who was taking out a trip same day we passed Diamond. Cost us only $50 to have 5hp Lehr (propane) brought in but part of that may have been long time river karma.... and pickup was witnessed by Hualapai "ranger" I'd met year before while taking our trip out @ Diamond. He approved.
I was in midst of researching how to file a FOIA request to discover how this "rule" was adopted when this news announced. Don't really care who deserves credit (Ricardo? Wally?) but grateful sanity has prevailed - and will be saying so to new Park super + staff. WTF? - you can legally possess a FIREARM in our national parks (just what we need, National Rifle Association). But I can't pack a motor to use Diamond down?
Pay attention. This is a good example of getting rid of a silly and unnecessary "rule." If "...river ranger patrols..." observed violations (motors being used before DC that were carried down from above) why didn't they ticket the offenders?
Again, thanks GCPBA for whatever role you played! And to those who believe motors have no place on rivers: try rowing from Separation to Pearce with 40 mph upstream winds. I have, several times - and now only do that stretch with a motor!
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Old 01-17-2017   #4
 
Eugene, Oregon
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I may be in the minority but I wish the GCPBA would spend more time and energy equalizing the commercial vs private allotment and less time supporting motors. Maybe it should become the GC(motorized)BA. They seem to be way to friendly with the money grubbing commercials. Again my opinion seems in the minority.

Otter, I rowed against a very stiff wind on my way from Diamond to Pearce in March 2014 and while it certainly was difficult at times it was much more pleasant without the constant motor traffic. I guess I have a different idea of what an ideal GC trip should be.
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Old 01-18-2017   #5
 
Sacramento, California
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For each, the allocation between privates and commercials is equal to 150,000 user days annually. The commercials use pretty much their entire allocation while private usage is about 130,000 annually. Leaving about 20,000 user days unused. This is an aggregate for folks not filling out permit allotment and/or not using all the time allowed, i.e. solo boaters who have a 16 person permit.

The only "constant motor traffic" that I've experienced are the helicopter flights out of Las Vegas and the Hualapai 1/4mile river excursions at Quartermaster. Otherwise, it's just me and my little 4-stroke. You can either take out at Diamond, do a night float, row or motor to Pearce. My choice is the latter - nothing but smiling faces for folks being towed, kicking back and glad they're not having to row that miserable stretch!!
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Old 01-18-2017   #6
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Just wanted to say thanks to the GCPBA for all there hard work, with this regulation, and others issues( like opposition to the Grand Canyon tramway.

If I'm already running a trip during motorized season from Leese ferry to diamond Creek under my own power, I appreciate the option to motor down to Pierce Ferry. I enjoyed my row from Diamond down this winter... but the Camping has been pretty screwed up from separation down, do to that Dam, and once to Quarter Master Canyon, it really was like apocalypse now, with the Hualapi nation air tours.

Hearing my own motor for part of that time, instead of choppers, seems reasonable.
And if I'm rowing that section, I can be ok with some old river rat getting to save his back from head winds at the end, I would rather have that, then tourists flying over.

If separation down becomes a natural river again, and the Air tours ever stop for some reason, getting rid of motors there could be a good thing.

My opinion for what it's worth.
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Old 01-18-2017   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe W View Post
I may be in the minority but I wish the GCPBA would spend more time and energy equalizing the commercial vs private allotment and less time supporting motors. Maybe it should become the GC(motorized)BA. They seem to be way to friendly with the money grubbing commercials. Again my opinion seems in the minority.
Joe,

I'm not sure if you're aware but the GCPBA brought the private / commercial allotment into near parity at a time when we only had about half the outfitters' allotment; and decreased ourfitters' allotment while limiting them to the current motor season. The current Colorado River Management Plan (CRMP), while not set in stone, is only open for tweaks at this time. Reopening the management plan to "equalize" the allocation or ban motors may not go our way considering unused private boater capacity mentioned above.

As for the issue of motors, you're in good company with those of us who would prefer only oar powered trips at least to Diamond. However, having only oar powered trips would result in very long group to group contacts, thus making the Canyon seem more crowded. From what I understand, computer modeling indicated that under a "no motor" scenario, the pre-CRMP user day allocations would need to have been even further reduced to minimize the contact between trips and achieve an acceptable experience under Park guidelines. If you've ever been passed by a motor rig you know it goes by and is out of sight in a few minutes, whereas being passed by another oar trip takes a much longer time before they disappear around the bend. Another thing to consider is that the old allocation disparity was so bad that polling of private boaters in the early 2000s indicated that a great majority would prefer increased allocation over elimination of motors - so that's the route that was taken in the negotiations that brought about the current CRMP.

There are many folks out there that are dissatisfied with the current system, however, for private boaters it is still a vast improvement over the old management plan, under which private boaters only had about 58,000 user days annually. With the new CRMP, private trips increased from about 250 to about 500 trips yearly. The current plan is a compromise among many diverse stakeholder groups and yes, there are things we'd like to have differently if we could have our way. And of course, I think most of us would all love to have the Canyon to ourselves, muddy, warm, untamed, and unspoiled. However, the current plan is what we've got, there's a big dam upstream, and a lot more private boaters get to go there way more easily than before.

Happy Boating,

-AH
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Old 01-18-2017   #8
 
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Updated GCMP Release Date?

Please pardon my ignorance on GC Management strategies etc., but does anyone know when the updated GCMP will be released? Just curious if the aforementioned news regarding motors etc. was any part of that updated Plan that is pending release. I am interested in a rim to rim excursion to include packrafting a few stretches of the River. Currently, I understand that within the existing GCMP, packrafting is limited to 5 rivermiles max. In the new Plan, under Alt. C there could be a plethora of new possibilities available. I am interested/hopeful in seeing the mileage limits on Packrafts in the canyon increased or eliminated
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Old 01-18-2017   #9
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You might be thinking of the Backcountry Management Plan. That is going to have new rules for packrafting. It's not the same as the current river management plan. I don't know the time frame for the new BCMP. Call them at 928-638-7888.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Livenswell View Post
Please pardon my ignorance on GC Management strategies etc., but does anyone know when the updated GCMP will be released? Just curious if the aforementioned news regarding motors etc. was any part of that updated Plan that is pending release. I am interested in a rim to rim excursion to include packrafting a few stretches of the River. Currently, I understand that within the existing GCMP, packrafting is limited to 5 rivermiles max. In the new Plan, under Alt. C there could be a plethora of new possibilities available. I am interested/hopeful in seeing the mileage limits on Packrafts in the canyon increased or eliminated
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Old 01-26-2017   #10
 
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Here's to common sense prevailing! With all of the Hualapai motor boats down there not allowing private trips to motor out below separation seems just plain silly. And punishing all private boaters for the action of a few private boaters is so logically flawed it makes my head hurt. Thanks to GCPBA!
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