Page One – Let’s Go Boating!

GCPBA Letter to GCNP Superintendent Uberuaga Opposes Up-run Proposal

February 7, 2014

Dear Superintendent Uberuaga,

As a follow up to my earlier inquiry on this matter, I am writing as President of Grand Canyon Private Boater’s Association, to register our opposition to any prospective upstream boating in the Colorado River above Diamond Creek. We understand from media sources that the Hualapai tribe has considered including such a trip option through their Hualapai River Runners operation. We recognize that subsequent media reports indicate that the Hualapai have postponed their plans. Still, we are not content with that. This proposal should be promptly met with head on opposition before it can re-emerge.

GCPBA believes that any such upstream travel would constitute a serious breach of the Colorado River Management Plan and certain federal regulations. We also believe such activity would significantly impact the wilderness character of that portion of the river as well as violate a longstanding traditional prohibition against upstream travel above Separation Canyon.

Another point to consider is that the stretch of river from about mile 219 to mile 224.5 is one of the most crowded in the canyon. A node forms there almost every night as most trips position themselves for takeout the next day. Trips running upriver would add another crowd, in the node area and at the takeout. That makes the area immediately upstream of Diamond Creek critical for managing all river running in the GC.

Grand Canyon Private Boater’s Association will absolutely and vigorously support Park and DOI action opposing this, or any similar activity by anyone, not just the Hualapai River Runners. We believe that if this activity goes forward, it may lead to other CRMP infringements throughout the river corridor and possibly elsewhere in Grand Canyon National Park. The impact of these types of exploits can do nothing but have a severe negative impact on the character and quality of river running in Grand Canyon, as well as have major detrimental consequences for the Canyon ecosystem. We are hoping that quick preventive action by the Park, will influence the tribe to permanently drop consideration of this prospective trip offering.

Thank you for your continued willingness to work with GCPBA on matters of mutual interest. Please be assured of our cooperation in this important matter and understand that we will insist on rigid enforcement.


Wally Rist, President
Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association

GCPBA News – 10-30-13 – Grand Canyon River Office Releases Eight Year Update of River Usage and Lottery Statistics

Click here to open a pdf file of the eight year update:  River Stats 8 Year Update 10-30-13

GCPBA RiverNews 10.11.13 – National Park Service Enters Agreement with State of Arizona to Re-open Grand Canyon National Park

Here is the good news folks! Bon Voyage to those who get to go, sorry for those who have to make new arrangements, thanks to the Supt and his folks for taking a personal hand in the effort to make it work.

National Park Service Enters Agreement with State of Arizona to Re-open Grand Canyon National Park Service is in the process of negotiating similar agreements with other states

The National Park Service today announced that it has entered into an agreement with the State of Arizona that will allow Grand Canyon National Park to re-open and temporarily operate during the government shutdown.

Due to the lack of appropriations from Congress, the Department of the Interior was forced to close all national parks across the country last week and furlough more than 20,000 National Park Service employees who ensure the safety of visitors and the security of the resources.

Responding to the economic impacts that the park closures are having on many communities and local businesses, Secretary of the Interior Jewell announced Thursday that she will consider agreements with Governors who indicate an interest and ability to fully fund National Park Service personnel to re-open national parks in their states.

“This is a practical and temporary solution that will lessen the pain for some businesses and communities in Arizona during this shutdown,” said Secretary Sally Jewell. “We want to re-open all of our national parks as quickly possible for everyone to enjoy and call on Congress to pass a clean continuing resolution to open the government.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Arizona will donate funds to the National Park Service for the sole purpose of enabling National Park Service employees to re-open and manage Grand Canyon National Park.

The agreement funds Grand Canyon for a period of 7 days, running from Saturday, October 12 through Friday, October 18 at the donated amount of $651,000.00.

Entrances to Grand Canyon will open to the public beginning at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 12. These include the North Rim Entrance Station, the Desert View Entrance Station, and the South Rim Entrance Station. Visitors should be aware that during the first 48 hours many services will be limited.

As stated in the October 7 announcement of the River Permits Accommodation Plan, permittees who had launch dates three days prior to opening and including opening day, may choose to get a refund for permit fees and reschedule. River permit holders with the current launch date will have priority to launch on their scheduled date.

Xanterra South Rim, LLC and Delaware North Companies, Inc. will re-open concessions operated services with limited amenities for the first 48 hours. Guests with hotel reservations should contact Xanterra South Rim directly at 928-638-2631.

The North Rim will re-open for day use with limited visitor services available. The Grand Canyon Lodge operated by Forever Resorts will also re-open with limited guest services; individuals with lodge reservations should contact Forever Resorts 877-386-4383.

Public Affairs Office
Grand Canyon National Park
Kirby-Lynn Shedlowski

Launching at Lee’s In Fifty-Six (Katie Lee)
Great trips to all!


GCPBA RiverNews 10.07.13 – Grand Canyon National Park announces plan to accommodate river permit holders once government re-opens

Grand Canyon, Ariz. – The National Park Service at Grand Canyon National Park announced today that all river permit holders who were denied their scheduled launch due to the government shutdown will receive a refund for permit fees.

River permit holders will also be entitled to reschedule for a Colorado River trip with their choice of dates in 2013, 2014, 2015 or 2016. The permit holder will be required to submit their choices within 60 days of the government reopening. No more than three launches will be permitted in a day and the new trip must adhere to the trip length of the chosen season.

Permittees who had launch dates three days prior to opening and including opening day, may choose to get a refund for permit fees and reschedule with the same parameters as outlined above or launch after opening. The maximum number of launches will be adjusted to four per day for the first two days after opening. After that, the maximum will be three launches per day until the backlog has been cleared. River permit holders with the current launch date will have priority to launch on their scheduled date.

Commercial river companies that have scheduled launches during the government shutdown will be able to carry over lost user days that occurred under the government shutdown in the 2014 season. A user day is equal to one passenger on the river over the period of one day. Therefore, if a company was to launch with 10 passengers for 10 days, they’ll be able to carry over 100 user days in the 2014 season.

Twenty-one private river launches and six commercial launches were scheduled over the first two weeks in October.

“The Park worked closely with affected parties to develop this plan, and I appreciate their understanding and support,” stated Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga.

Details will be sent to each river permit holder outlining the options in the plan and any priority each may have.

The Park is also looking at options for other permit holders, and will provide information on any options it may offer in the near future.


Public Affairs Office
Grand Canyon National Park
Public Affairs Officer Maureen Oltrogge

GCPBA RiverNews 10.07.13 – GCPBA President Rist Comments On Park Plan

GCPBA applauds GCNP and especially Superintendent Uberuaga , and River District Ranger, Brian Bloom for its work in bringing together various stakeholders to assist in the formulation of this plan. Proudly, GCPBA was an integral contributor. There were others as well but it should be noted that the commercial outfitters were extremely helpful as well as sympathetic working with the NPS to accommodate displaced private river trips GCPBA thanks them all as well. It was truly a cooperate effort .

The Plan cannot address the re-openning of the Park. GCPBA understands that it will require congress, or maybe the DOI to do such.

We are well aware that the plan cannot eliminate all the pain, or inconvenience. We do hope it provides some relief for many.

Wally Rist
Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association (GCPBA)

GCPBA Letter To Sec of the Interior –

Reopen Launches At Lee’s Ferry

Sally Jewell, Secretary
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240

Via Email October 2, 2013

Dear Secretary Jewell,

I am writing in behalf of Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association, and the thousands of private river runners who travel through the Grand Canyon each year. My immediate concern relates to the current and future impact of Interior’s “shutdown” policy on boaters with imminent launch dates for Colorado River trips.

At present, and in each subsequent day of this shutdown, numerous private and commercial boaters are being denied access to river trip launch facilities at Lees Ferry, Arizona. This is an area managed by the National Park Service. Our representatives on site have been told that the policy requiring this closure was issued at a high level in Washington. Therefore we are calling on you to reverse this policy and allow trip rigging to resume today, and to permit long-scheduled launches of both private and commercial trips.

The reasons for doing so are simple – there is no actual resource saving involved, huge individual time and financial commitments by citizens are being squandered, and other Interior components are allowing launches on managed rivers despite the shutdown.

With regard to resource issues, the very NPS rangers who would be overseeing launch activity are being used to barricade the road to the river access point at Lees Ferry. Allowing launches would not require any manpower diversion or otherwise incur additional costs to the government. Likewise, Park-wide search and rescue personnel remain on duty to respond to emergencies that might arise involving river parties already on the river. Resumption of launch activity would not require further manpower in that segment of the Park’s workforce array.

The decision to prevent launches means that numerous individuals – who already have been issued a launch permit by the Park and who have invested large amounts of non-refundable money in a river trip (including those committed to a commercially operated trip) – are being subject to an unreasonable and logically indefensible government interruption in that trip. In some ways, this could be viewed as an unjustified seizure of their assets, since for many individuals rescheduling will not be an option. I should add that the related decision to prevent hike-in participants from joining trips at Phantom Ranch not only presents similar issues, but also creates potential trip safety issues. Participants intending to join a trip in this way may be critical replacement boat operators – substituting for others who were permitted to hike out midway through the trip.

Finally, we are reliably informed that other Interior-managed rivers not under NPS jurisdiction continue to allow launches of river trips, albeit without direct ranger participation in those launches. This is a logical and considerate method of implementing any applicable shutdown-related workforce restrictions, and we urge that process be immediately implemented at Grand Canyon as well.

Given there are less burdensome means available for Interior to comply with the terms of the current budget crisis, current policy should altered to allow launches and hike-ins for Grand Canyon river trips.

Thank you for your prompt consideration of this matter.


Richard Phillips, Secretary
Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association

Contact Arizona’s Governor - or you can call the Governors office – 602 542 4331

Contacting Congress -

In order to find your Representatives’ contact information, visit, enter your zip code and hit select.

This page will take you to your local representatives and senators. If you click on their name, it will take you to their direct contact information where you can call and either speak with him/her directly or leave a message. You can also email Erin Walls-Special Assistant to the Secretary of Interior at or Laura Davis-our Chief of Staff to the Secretary of Interior at

In addition to writing your own state representatives, please also send copies of your correspondence to Arizona and Utah legislators. (Thank you to Grand Canyon River Runners Association [GCRRA] for list compilation)


Senator John McCain
SR-241 Russell Building
Washington, DC 20510-0303
Chief of Staff – Pablo Carrillo –

Senator Jeff Flake
SR-368 Russell Building 20510-4521
Chief of Staff – Steve Voeller –

Congressman Ron Barber
1029 Longworth Building 20515-0302
Chief of Staff – Jennifer Cox –

Congressman Trent Frank
2435 Rayburn Building 20515-0308
Chief of Staff Randy Kutz –

Congressman Paul Gosar
504 Cannon Building 20515-0304
Chief of Staff – Thomas Van Flein –

Congressman Raul Grijalva
1511 Longworth Building 20515-0303
Chief of Staff – Amy Emerick –

Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick
330 Cannon Building 20515-0301
Chief of Staff – Carmen Gallus –

Congressman Matt Salmon
2349 Rayburn Building 20515-0305
Chief of Staff – Adam Deguire –

Congressman Ed Pastor
2465 Rayburn Building 20515-0307
Executive Assistant – Laura Campos –

Congressman David Schweikert
1205 Longworth Building 20515-0306
Chief of Staff – Oliver Schwab –

Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema
1237 Longworth Building 20515-0309
Chief of Staff – JoDee Winterhof –


Senator Orrin Hatch
SH-104 Hart Building 20510-4402
Chief of Staff – Michael Kennedy –

Senator Mike Lee
SH-316 Hart Building 20510-4404
Chief of Staff – Boyd Matheson –

Congressman Rob Bishop
123 Cannon Building 20515-4401
Chief of Staff – Scott Parker –

Congressman Jason Chaffetz
2464 Rayburn Building 20515-4403
Chief of Staff – Justin Harding –

Congressman Jim Matheson
2211 Rayburn Building 20515-4404
Chief of Staff – Margaret Joseph –

Congressman Chris Stewart
323 Cannon Building 20515-4402
Chief of Staff – Brian Steed –


GCPBA and American Canyoneers Submit Joint “River Assisted Backcountry Travel” Recommendation to the PARK

Among many things GCPBA does regularly as the voice of private boaters in the Grand Canyon, we stay in communication with other organizations that have similar interests. We also communicate with Park officials on a variety of important issues. One recent example is our cooperative effort with American Canyoneers, in making a joint recommendation regarding the river portion of the Back Country Management Plan , which is under formulation.

GCPBA stays busy. The following joint submission was the result of our Board members exchanging detailed information and viewpoints with American Canyoneers over a protracted period of time. Other river-related activities – such as tracking and researching the LCR Escalade proposal and the Long Term Experimental Management Plan for Glen Canyon Dam – are similarly demanding.

These projects are extremely important to the future of GC river running, and member dues and donations support our all-volunteer efforts. In addition to your financial support, we appreciate your moral support. You can help in both ways as an individual, and also by directing your boating friends to our website, . There they can join GCPBA and/or donate.

Wally Rist, President GCPBA

The Letter

Superintendent Dave Uberuaga
Wilderness Coordinator Linda Jalbert
Grand Canyon National Park Box 129 Grand Canyon, AZ 86023

April 11, 2013

Dear Superintendent Dave Uberuaga and Wilderness Coordinator Linda Jalbert,

Since November 2012, Rich Rudow, board member at American Canyoneers and Dave Mortenson, board member at Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association, have been jointly working through the issues concerning RABT (River Assisted Backcountry Travel), for the upcoming Backcountry Management Plan. RABT is the much preferred term to packrafting because we feel it better implies our mutual position and philosophy in regard to backpackers relying in part on river travel.

We understand that the Scoping Period ended June 27, 2011, that NPS has reviewed 581 comments and is well into the process of finalizing a number of alternatives regarding this portion of the management plan. Our purpose in sending you this letter is not to become belated comment 582. Our purpose is to inform you the two organizations stand united on the following aspects of what we think the final plan should include. It is our hope that it will closely parallel one of the NPS alternatives and that we can strongly support such with a united voice.

We are in full agreement that the purpose of RABT travel should be part of an overland route that other wise could not be safely and/or conveniently completed. We do differ slightly on the degree of difficulty and convenience which the NPS should consider — GCPBA being more restrictive, American Canyoneers being less restrictive. However, we see this as no more than a slight disagreement.

We are also in complete agreement that no part of the plan should openly or inadvertently “open the door” for casual, sporting use of the river. For example, a mini river trip floating from Lee’s Ferry to Cathedral Canyon and a hike out should not be granted a RABT permit.

GCPBA and American Canyoneers are not advocating for more backcountry use or expanded use of the River, as currently called for in the respective management plans.

Any use of the river will require either a backcountry permit or a river permit. We agree that a day user, who normally would not be required to have a backcountry permit, should have a backcountry permit if river usage is planned.

We both agree that Canyoneers or backpackers, like all other group types, can apply for a river permit in the weighted lottery and make that the focus of their river trip. Many do apply and run these types of trips when they win the lottery.

A “zone system” is the management approach of choice upon which we agree. Each individual zone would be defined along the river primarily by the accessibility to overland entrance and exit routes of the Canyon. The Zone system would be managed similar to current backcountry zones on a backcountry permit. Each river zone would have its own unique set of allowable uses and should include the number of people in a given zone at a given time, as well as overnights on the river portion. We also see the potential for some seasonal variation, with less restrictive rules during the winter seasons where river permit traffic is lower. River camping at traditional camps used by private and commercial boaters should be discouraged and be subject to the management restrictions in the river corridor that pertain to river runners. We are in agreement that zones would have different allowable uses defined by NPS, and may with time and management conditions require modification in delineated uses. We also support public comment on any changes, to help educate and inform users and improve possible decisions.

A great deal of collective experience, and details have been thoroughly presented and discussed with each other. We are quite pleased that GCPBA and American Canyoneers are able to work together to be able to present NPS with this mutual agreement letter. We are convinced it puts forth a very workable plan. Representatives of each group are available to answer questions and further discuss this with you. While submitted post Scoping Period, we hope the back country management plan team will consider it as part of its final decision. We look forward to hearing from you.

 Thank you,

Wally Rist

President GCPBA

809 W. Riordan Rd Suite 100 #431 Flagstaff, AZ 86001

Wolfgang Schuster,


American Canyoneers

2517 Hobbs View Circle Layton, UT 84040

Readers can view the actual letter here: Signed GCPBA_AC letter April 11, 2013

GCPBA Could Use Your Help – Help Us Help You

A reminder that GCPBA’s fund-raising effort is still active. It’s vitally important in helping us to stay in the arena when it comes to representing private boater interests. The three key areas where the Board anticipates a coming need for additional financial support are:

* The Long Term Experimental and Management Plan (LTEMP) for operation of Glen Canyon Dam, which in its final form will have a major impact on river related recreational opportunities on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

* The proposed LCR Escalade development, which (if not stopped) would result in an extensive resort-type development on the rim, a tramway to the river, and a restaurant literally overlooking the junction of the LCR and the main Colorado, as well as the potential for reduced or no access to the Little Colorado River Canyon for river runners.

* The Backcountry Management Plan now under development by the Park, which interfaces with river operations in important ways like closures (such as happened at Deer Creek) and impact of the increasingly popular sport of packrafting.

For those of you who have already donated, joined GCPBA, or renewed your membership, thank you for your generosity and support.

For folks who are new here, or who in the past have stayed on the sidelines, please help GCPBA through your paid membership, membership renewal, or a direct donation. Visit our new website: and look for the “Donate” link on the left side.

Thanks for your support.

Rich Phillips
Secretary, GCPBA

Welcome to the Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association NEW Website!

Our Goal:  Ensure the ability for all to obtain, on an equal and timely basis, an opportunity to experience a float trip through the Grand Canyon while protecting the resource.

The Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association was established in 1996 to provide the self-outfitted boating public with an advocate and a clear voice seeking to achieve fair access for the non-commercial river runner in Grand Canyon and the rivers of the Colorado Plateau region.

Important note to previous GCPBA website registrants – your previous username will still work on this new site but your password may not. If it doesn’t work, you will be taken to a page allowing you to request a new password that will be emailed to you. Once you are able to log in, you can change your password if you desire. We’re sorry for the inconvenience – building a new website is as challenging as running a heavy boat through Bedrock at low, low water.

Early Morning Full Moon – Launch Day at Lees Ferry, by Bruce McElya © 2012
Used with permission

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