Grand Canyon River Planning to Begin Anew

Posted: 06/19/2002
By: Jason Robertson

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June 13, 2002 - The Park Service is seeking your help to fix the Private Boater Permit Waiting List (now over 20 years long) and protect the special places and experiences you value in the Grand Canyon! As a result of American Whitewater's lawsuit, the Park Service's Colorado River management planning team has just released their Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Colorado River Management Plan (CRMP) in Grand Canyon National Park (GCNP).

This is your chance to help fix the Waiting List (now over 20 years long) and protect the special places and experiences you value in the Grand Canyon!

During this first round of scoping, the Park really want you to focus on the bigger picture. In other words, the Park needs your help understanding what you like about the river and your access opportunities now, as well as what you want the river and your visitor experiences to be like in the future. What are the conditions and qualities that you find special and want to see protected, preserved, and enhanced?

ADDITIONAL INFO

GET INVOLVED


SUMMARY

(condensed from the NOI: The National Park Service (NPS) is preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Colorado River Management Plan (CRMP) for Grand Canyon National Park. The purpose of this EIS/CRMP is to update management guidelines for the Colorado River corridor through Grand Canyon National Park. Grand Canyon National Park's 1995 General Management Plan provides a high level of direction for the park's developed areas. Additional guidance is needed to effectively manage the Colorado River corridor.

Completion of the EIS process will fulfill an agreement reached through a negotiated settlement of recent litigation between several organizations (including American Whitewater), individuals, and the federal government. The settlement requires the NPS to complete the EIS/CRMP by December 31, 2004.

This effort will identify and evaluate alternatives for visitor use and levels of motorized and non-motorized trips, the allocation and distribution of use for user groups, and a permit distribution system for noncommercial users. During this process, the NPS will develop and evaluate alternatives to address resource protection issues, potential resource impacts, user capacities, and mitigation measures necessary or desirable to avoid or minimize impairment of natural and cultural resources. The NPS will also consider alternatives that include no-action (status quo), no motorized use, and varying levels of motorized and non-motorized use.

Major issues include the following: Appropriate levels of visitor use consistent with natural and cultural resource protection and preservation mandates; allocation of use between commercial and non- commercial groups; the permitting system; the level of motorized versus non-motorized raft use; the range of services provided to the public; and, in consultation with the Hualapai Indian Tribe and other appropriate parties, the continued use of helicopters to transport river passengers from the Colorado River near Whitmore Wash.

The public scoping process will involve distribution of a newsletter or scoping brochure for public response and comment. Public meetings will be held at a minimum in Denver, Colorado; Phoenix, Arizona; Flagstaff, Arizona; and Salt Lake City, Utah. In addition to providing specific meeting dates and locations, the newsletter or brochure will describe the proposed project, the issues identified to date, the dates of public scoping meetings, and alternative concepts. Copies of that information may be obtained from CRMP Project Leader, Grand Canyon National Park, P.O. Box 129, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023, 928- 638-7945.


ATTEND THE PUBLIC SCOPING WORKSHOPS NEAREST YOU

Specific meeting dates and locations have not yet been finalized. However, we know that Public meetings will be held this summer (2002) in:

Denver, Colorado
Phoenix, Arizona
Flagstaff, Arizona
Las Vegas, Nevada
Salt Lake City, Utah.


SUBMIT YOUR THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS

We know you have strong ideas and feelings about how boating on the Grand Canyon is managed, so why don't you share your thoughts with the Park?

During this first round of scoping, the Park really want you to focus on the bigger picture. In other words, the Park needs your help understanding what you like about the river and your access opportunities now, and what you want the river and your visitor experiences to be like in the future. What are the conditions and qualities that you find special and want to see protected, preserved, and enhanced?

Since the Park is going to begin this planning effort with comments from the 1997 Summary of Public Comments there is little need to rehash old gripes, fears, or burrs. Instead, it is important to try to build new bridges between all citizen constituencies and interests and really work to prepare a plan that will stand the test of time and public opinion.

To comment on the Colorado River Management Plan:

You may mail comments to CRMP Project, Grand Canyon National Park, P.O. Box 129, Grand Canyon, Arizona 86023.

You may comment via electronic mail (email) to grca_crmp@nps.gov. Please submit email comments as a text file avoiding the use of special characters and any form of encryption. Please also include your name, email address, and mailing address in your message.

Note that the Park generally makes comments, including names and home addresses of respondents, available for public review unless you request otherwise.


PLANNING TIMELINE

February 5, 2002 NPS settles the lawsuit brought by American Whitewater and other plaintiffs and agrees to recommence the CRMP planning efforts and a schedule for completion.
NPS agrees to initiate planning efforts to update the 1989 CRMP within 120 days.
June 13, 2002 NPS announces its Notice of Intent to conduct public scoping workgroups during the summer of 2002.
August 13, 2002 This is the initial deadline for submitting scoping comments; however the practicial deadline will be in mid-September 30 days after the last public scoping meeting.
December 31, 2002 Rafting company (concession outfitter) contracts expire. The NPS is allowed under the January 2002 settlement to extend these contracts for no more than 3 years. The CRMP must be completed before permanent contracts may be negotiated and signed.
Summer 2003 The NPS planning team will release a draft EIS for public comment. Comments will be due within 60 days.
December 31, 2004 NPS Deadline for completing the EIS/CRMP.

Jason Robertson

635 Joseph Cir

Golden, CO 80403-2349

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