Grand Canyon: The Survey Results Are In!

Posted: 08/13/2002
by Jason Robertson

AW's Grand Canyon Survey Analysis

American Whitewater collected responses to our non-scientific online survey between July 9 and August 8, 2002 at www.AmericanWhitewater.org. Our purpose in conducting the survey was to gauge the pulse of our members and the boating public on several issues related to river management in the Grand Canyon. The respondents were self-selecting and elected to go to American Whitewater's website after receiving email notification of the survey's availability. 872 people completed the survey; 15 of these responses were incomplete and were discarded. 352 of the respondents were American Whitewater members (5% of membership). 175 respondents were Grand Canyon Private Boater Affiliation (GCPBA) members. The Park Service did not assist with this survey. However, American Whitewater will share the results of our survey with the Park along with the comments that we received.

Summary of American Whitewater Membership Responses

VISITS

55% of respondents have floated down the Grand Canyon.

Average date of last trip was 1997, median was 1999.

Of those respondents who have been down:

12% have been on motorized raft trips.
52% have been on non-motorized raft trips.
63% have been in kayaks with raft support.
27% have been on commercial trips.

WAIT LIST

97% do not find the Wait List acceptable and 96% want a new permit system.

36% have been registered on the Wait List.

41% plan to get on the Wait List in the future.

An additional 36% would get on the List if it was shorter.

The primary reason 80% of respondents have not registered on the List is its length.

The secondary reason 42% is that the $100 registration fee is too high.

Respondents would prefer to register for private permits via the web.

Their secondary choice is via email.

Other choices in decreasing preference are:

Fax
Phone
Mail or Operator
In Person.
Respondents would prefer a reservation registration system.

This is followed closely by a Weighted Lottery, then Lottery, and Wait List.

There was very little interest in a First-Come First-Serve system.

79% were interested in a hybrid system that provided two avenues for applying for permits.

62% felt that a 2-3 year wait was reasonable, 26% selected 1 year or less, 10% more than 3.

72% felt that they should be able to launch 1 year or less after receiving their permit.

MOTORS

87% believe that motors diminish the wilderness character of the river.

72% believe that motors diminish the paddling experience.

58% would agree to future use of cleaner, quieter motors, 38% would not.

70% would compromise on motors in a way that also protects the "wilderness quality experience", 27% would not.

79% would compromise on motors if the number of private launches increases, 17% would not.

Summary of All Responses

VISITS

56% of respondents have floated down the GC.

Average date of last trip was 1998, median was 1998.

Of those respondents who have been down:

18% have been on motorized raft trips.
68% have been on non-motorized raft trips.
39% have been in kayaks with raft support.
28% have been on commercial trips.

WAIT LIST

90% do not find the Wait List acceptable and 88% want a new permit system.

38% have been registered on the Wait List.

40% plan to get on the Wait List in the future.

An additional 31% would get on the List if it was shorter.

The primary reason 72% of respondents have not registered on the List is its length.

The secondary reason 36% is that the $100 registration fee is too high.

Respondents would prefer to register for private permits via the web.

Their secondary choice is via email.

Other choices in decreasing preference are:

Phone or Mail or Operator
Fax
In Person.

Respondents would prefer a reservation registration system.

This is followed closely by a Weighted Lottery, then Lottery, and Wait List. There was some interest in a First-Come First-Serve system.

73% were interested in a hybrid system that provided two avenues for applying for permits.

56% felt that a 2-3 year wait was reasonable, 23% selected 1 year or less, 10% more than 3.

67% felt that they should be able to launch 1 year or less after receiving their permit.

MOTORS

77% believe that motors diminish the wilderness character of the river.

65% believe that motors diminish the paddling experience.

55% would agree to future use of cleaner, quieter motors, 35% would not.

66% would compromise on motors in a way that also protects the "wilderness quality experience", 26% would not.

74% would compromise on motors if the number of private launches increases, 19% would not.

Observations

As a result of conducting this survey and of reviewing the responses in the comment fields, it is apparent that American Whitewater should conduct another survey addressing the issues of helicopter use at Whitmore Wash, allocation between commercial and private permits, daily launch patterns, cancellation policies, and other related concepts. Check back in late August 2002 for our follow-up survey.

Jason D. Robertson
635 Joseph Cir
Golden, CO 80403-2349