GCPBA President’s Letter – December 2018

Greetings All, Time to catch up on what’s been happening...

The Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association had its annual meeting October 4-6 in Flagstaff, AZ. The officers for 2018-2019 are:

President:  Rich Harter
VP: John Vrymoed
Secretary: Blakely LaCroix
Members at Large:
Dave Mortensen
Helen Howard
Wally Rist
Rich Turner

Issues and Concerns

The boundary dispute between the Hualapai and US Government has existed for some time and has laid dormant for many years.  As many of you know, the Hualapai have recently made their position regarding the boundary’s location known, by way of a public notice, stating that a permit is required for use of the camps on the left side of the river between RM 164 and 273.  This is of particular concern to the Board as it affects our boating community.  We have written to the Park stating our concerns. While there have been no new developments the Board is keeping close tabs on what may happen going forward.  As of this date we do not know of any boater, private or commercial, who has been impacted.  To our knowledge, the Hualapai have not carried out their stated intent to physically monitor any violations.

Along that line, John Vrymoed, the Board’s Vice President, made a power point presentation to the Board and the NPS, identifying the location of the high water mark.  The US Government cites this as the boundary without physically identifying on the ground.  John is a retired civil engineer with extensive experience in in water resource engineering.  The Board and NPS employees were able to see our Vice President’s PowerPoint  presentation on the high water mark and it was very informative. We will try and post that on YouTube or another platform so you can better understand the boundary of GCNP. The Board commissioned John to write an engineering report, which we will make available to you in the near future.  Similarly, we keep in contact with the Grand Canyon Trust as our concern over the Escalade project has not diminished. 

GCPBA, along with a number of other organizations, signed a letter opposing the proposed defunding of the Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center. The GCMRC is funded through the Western Power Administration – the proposed shift of $23 million to the General Fund was defeated. 

National Park Service Discussion

We discussed several issues with the Park Service such as having current printed copies of the regulations, and the 2 car limit per group at the ramp.  Some folks had accessed a non-NPS website to print out their regulations, which were outdated.  Others may have printed theirs at the time they were notified of a winning date – long before the actual launch.  To remedy this, the Permits Office will inform permit holders to print out the regulations one month before launch.   We printed a number of sets of regulations to be handed out by the rangers as needed.

We requested of them to allow that more space on the ramp be made available during shoulder and winter season for rigging and allow more than two cars per launch group be on the ramp.  They stated as long as the schedule allows, we will be granted more space to rig depending on the number of private trips launching. To be clear, this will be at the ranger’s discretion and as the schedule permits. We are also be keeping a close eye on any developments that may occur on that front.

On Saturday we had a presentation from Steve Sullivan from the River Permits Office.  I am ecstatic to report that, for the first time since the 2006 Colorado River Management Plan was instituted, we are projected to be at over 500 private trips launching for 2018! When the lawsuit was filed ~2000 we had 237 trips and used around 167, or roughly 67%. Today we are at 99%+ of 503 trips. While this is great news, we still feel there may be some room for improvement and we are studying the CRMP to see what, if anything, can be done going forward.

We had a spirited discussion with Steve about adding private trips at various times throughout the year.  His main comment was that it could not be done as an adaptive management of the current Colorado River Management Plan, but would require extensive research of how the trips would fit into the currently allowed Trips At One Time that the CRMP allows.  It could require a new management plan.

We were informed by the Lees Ferry personnel that the trash/recycle situation there was fast becoming untenable and we offered our assistance on that issue. It seems to be resolved for the time being but the rangers asked us to convey a couple of items for your consideration. Most importantly among those items was to ask all river runners to bring as little packaging as possible to the put in. While I know many of us shop for last minute items on the way to the Lee’s Ferry, and can’t easily dispose of recyclables and trash before arriving. It would make the Ferry an easier place to navigate if we could minimize what we bring that needs disposal of any type. It would also speed up your checkout if everyone had their ID ready, as well as all mandatory river items out for inspection prior to the ranger arriving.  It will expedite the check-in if all the required items are grouped together in one place as opposed to the ranger moving from boat to boat.

We are hoping all of you have a safe and wonderful Holiday Season and may you all get the trips you want next year.

Rich Harter

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