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On May 4, 2020, GCPBA President Richard Harter mailed a letter to Grand Canyon National Park which reviewed the 134 noncommercial river trips that were suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. They were scheduled to launch in March, April, May, and June of this year. There is a new announcement May 27 from GCNP that the suspension will not continue past the previously announced June 13 date.

Mr. Harter noted the disappointment of the more than 1600 potential participants involved in those trips after lengthy trip planning, and the impact on the Arizona economy (the private trip outfitters, shuttle service, Hualapai Nation, food & beverage stores, restaurants, and motels).

GCNP has offered the same launch dates and trip sizes in 2022 to those permit holders, or full refunds of fees paid. We applauded that, and we requested more from the Park:

1. Those permit holders of lost trips should be given first chances at all trip cancellations that will happen before their rescheduled dates, in advance of others in a normal follow-up lottery. If one of them gets a trip, their 2022 trip is then forfeited.

2. We proposed a partial replacement of these lost river trips, "adding small sized (8 or fewer people per trip) noncommercial river trips onto the March and October launch calendars, fifteen trips during each month, with none two days in a row...for the next few years"

At those times of year there is space for them per the Park's parameter of Trips At One Time on the river in the 2006 Colorado River Management Plan (we are currently far below the maximum allowed in those months), and there is little or no commercial river activity during those months. Conflicts between the two classes of trips will be nonexistent.

We felt that there should be an opportunity for them to have a river trip sooner than waiting for 2022. We were also concerned about those dates in 2022 now not being available for other potential river trip permitees. Mr. Harter wrote, "Those permit holders will be taking the place of others who would have wanted the same dates in 2022, some of whom might have been hoping specifically for a 2022 river trip, rather than any other year."

The Park responded May 18, agreeing with us. Superintendent Edward Keable wrote, "The proposal you have put forth has merit. The temporary addition of launching small...trips every other day in March and October will honor the CRMP's goals for maximum TAOTs while at the same time allowing some compensation for the loss of private trip launches due to the river closure. These temporary additions will expire at the end of 2022." This is 75 more trips for private boaters.

Also, in a follow-up phone call, Mr. Harter received assurance from the GCNP River Permits Office that they will devise a method of offering trip cancellations to the permit holders of the lost trips, as we requested.

GCPBA thanks Supt. Keable for his quick response and acceptance of our proposals. We will continue to communicate with the River Permits Office to implement this, and as needed on this and other issues important to private boaters.
 

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Kudos to the GCPBA for using their channels with the NPS and working to get more access for private boaters. Within the constraints of the CRMP it's really tough to add access, but this was an opening that provided a good opportunity.

-AH
 
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