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Taking Big Red
The Colorado River - Grand Canyon Water War
By Gaylord Staveley
2016; Fretwater Press; ISBN (paper) 978-1-892327-17-8
For more than fifty years, Gaylord Staveley has lived and worked "inside" professional river running, a period spanning the construction of dams on the Colorado River system, the explosion of whitewater boating as popular adventure travel, and the fray over who gets to use the river, what for, when, and how much. A river runner, naturalist, educator, historian... and almost river - everything, Gaylord has recently published Taking Big Red an in-depth chronicle of the issues the controversial, sometimes contentious issues in managing river use through the Grand Canyon.
Staveley discovered the Colorado River in 1956 and unexpectedly found himself operating the whitewater boating company established in 1949 by Norman Nevills’ Mexican Hat Expeditions. In 1969 the company's name was changed to Canyoneers, Inc. Today, Canyoneers continues as the oldest Colorado River running outfitter in Grand Canyon and Gaylord currently serves as the Canyoneers CEO.
Gaylord is not about to get rich selling many copies of this detailed account or river use allocation, but if you manage rivers... or if you are embroiled in the private vs. commercial use controversy you NEED to read this book. Staveley, involved in the issues from the beginning, has produced a readable historical account of the Grand Canyon permit process. The account analyses the positive and negative aspects of all sides of the issue - remember besides the boaters several agencies are involved! The book tracks water availability and flow history and the associated controversies, woven into the permit allocation issues.
I thought I knew a lot about the scope and difficulty of the permit issues, but I had no idea of the full, detailed depth of the history involved. These days, with abundant misinformation spewn about by self-proclaimed authorities on the Grand Canyon permit controversy this is a refreshing, accurate account by someone who was there: beginning to present.
Books by Gaylord include: Broken Waters Sing (Little Brown / Sports Illustrated, 1971); Ammo Can Interp, a boatman's "encyclopedia" (co-author and publisher, 2006); The Rapids and The Roar (Fretwater Press, 2015)
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