The annual GCPBA membership meeting was held Sunday, October 6, 2013, in Flagstaff, Arizona. As is tradition, GCPBA board members meet for the two preceding days. In addition, GCPBA President Wally Rist, and GCPBA board member Rich Turner, were in Northern Arizona several days earlier for a variety of meetings with Canyon relevant groups.
This was an unusual weekend for GCPBA. The weekend and meetings were dominated by the Government shut-down that had begun on October 1. The usual course of business was also altered by board member Richard (Ricardo) Martin’s retirement. Ricardo was the lone, remaining founding board member of GCPBA. He has been a leading and unifying factor for the Grand Canyon boating community for more than 20 years.
Wally and Rich arrived at the Lees Ferry barricade about noon, October 1, the day the shut down began. It was quite orderly, despite frustration levels being high. The parking lot at Marble Canyon Lodge (latter dubbed The Dirt Eddy) was already starting to accumulate river trips that were not being permitted to go down to the Ferry to rig or launch, as well as some news crews, fishermen, and just interested visitors. The trip scheduled to launch on the day of the closure had been checked out by the Lees Ferry ranger the evening before and encouraged to be gone by early morning (which they were). We knew that the decision to close the Park was made way above the GCNPS personnel level, and that little could be done locally. GCPBA had researched the same situation several years ago, when a similar shut down seemed imminent. At that time, GCPBA had offered volunteers to help with check outs and keep the scheduled launches.
Rich and Wally spent most of the rest of the day, and parts of the next few days, meeting with, e-mailing, and talking on the phone to park personnel, river runners at Marble Canyon, and numerous other interested parties, including Steve Hatch, President of GCROA (Grand Canyon River Outfitters Association). Despite everyone’s (including the Park’s) good intentions, the Park had been ordered closed and no trips, private, commercial, or fishing were permitted to launch.
Friday morning, October 4, Rich and Wally had what has become a traditional breakfast meeting with GCPBA member and owner of Moenkopi Riverworks, Brady Black. As usual, Brady offered a lot of insight into to what private trippers were expecting and experiencing, as well as unencumbered views as to how the CRMP was operating, how it might be improved, and of course, how the effects of the shut down might be mitigated. Current issues such as the Deer Creek lower gorge closure were also discussed.
Later that same morning there was a meeting with Lynn Hamilton, executive director of GCRG (Grand Canyon River Guides), where we discussed the shut down, as well as ways both organizations can continue to cooperate with each other to provide input to the Park on issues of mutual importance. A similar lunch meeting was held with Mari Carlos, President of GCRRA (Grand Canyon River Runner’s Association) and board member Jan Taylor. Later that afternoon, Rich and Wally met with Associated Press reporter Felicia Fonseca, who had written the Associated Press article, “Alcohol Dominated Private Trips,” as well as other Canyon Country stories. We offered her GCPBA as a source for verification and perspective for any of her Grand Canyon, and particularly river related, research.
Friday evening, October 4, GCPBA board members assembled at the Woodlands Hotel, spending several hours in very informal discussions, most of which focused on the shut down and other items of particular interest to each of us individually. It is a time of very open communication with numerous and varied opinions aired and considered.
The formal board meeting was brought to order at 8am, Saturday, October 5, 2014. President Rist welcomed and thanked the board members for their service and participation and presided over the weekend meetings. Board members present were Wally Rist, Rich Harter, Rich Turner, Dave Yeamans, Dave Mortenson and retiring board member Richard Martin. Rich Phillips and Earl Perry were absent for personal and understandable reasons.
One of the first items for business is always members’ ballots and comments. Dave Mortenson, and Rich Phillips were elected for a two year term running through 2015. Earl Perry was elected for a one year term. Board Officers were reelected in their current capacities. Most of the ballot comments were in the realm of thanks for all that you do. One remarked that board members had made nasty, on list comments about RRFW. Other comments were; stop LCR development, the need for balanced reasoning regarding Deer Creek type closures, beach sand, the need to preserve the use of fires, ranger check in procedures at Lees Ferry, camping above Phantom, shortening the motor season, and missing “The Waiting List” (a former GCPBA publication).
Wally and Rich reported on all the weeks meetings. It was noted that membership remains at about 400 with about 2,700 list serve followers. Wally also reported on the legal research that had been done regarding the proposed Escalade development at the LCR and Park boundary issues.
The remainder of the morning was spent getting ready for the NPS telephone call at 2:00pm. Steve Sullivan had e-mailed his apology for not being allowed to accept our invitation for him and park personnel to attend our meeting scheduled for that afternoon. Superintendent Uberuaga also had called President Rist on Friday, to apologized for not being allowed to attend our meeting. He did, however want a conference call to discuss an Accommodation Plan for those trips affected by the government shut down.
At 2:00pm, Superintendent Uberuaga and Chief of Law Enforcement Brian Bloom, called in. Mari Carlos, President of GCRRA was in attendance at our invitation. As we had agreed, we let NPS talk first. The NPS’s Accommodation Plan was generous and almost identical to the suggestions we had prepared. We added a few comments and suggestions, which the Park accepted. The plan is posted on, www.gcpba.org
The rest of the day, as well as Sunday morning, was spent discussing all the work that Ricardo has been doing, and which board members were going to pick up which of those responsibilities. Rich Turner discussed contacting members directly via a new GCPBA electronic publication using MailChimp. We also discussed our FaceBook page, fund raising, new board member recruiting, the written history of GCPBA, and the progress (or lack thereof) of the River Heritage Museum.
Saturday night we convened again for a farewell dinner honoring Ricardo. The theme of the dinner was the success of the 2006 CRMP, which Ricardo played an integral part in formulating. Mark Grishman, also an essential person in fashioning the plan, was there as well. Ricardo and Mark shared the history of the events that led to the compromises which made the plan possible.
Our General Membership Meeting convened at 1:00 pm Sunday, October 6, 2013. It was attended by less than 10 GCPBA members. President Rist presented a brief report on the state of the organization and a summary of our board meeting, focusing on the Accommodation Plan. The meeting was then opened for questions and discussions, most of which centered on the shut down. We adjourned at 3pm.