Colorado River Management Plan

Colorado River Management Plan (CRMP) Trashes Wilderness, Fair Access and Adds Reams of Red Tape for Noncommercial Boaters

Grand Canyon National Park released the long-awaited Colorado River Management Plan (CRMP)/Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on Nov. 9, 2005. Unfortunately, it preserved all the worst elements of its preferred alternative H and adopted some even worse ones. The waiting list, with its embarrassing mass of patiently-waiting future permittees, is on its way out--a full 66% of waiters on the list were thrown to the "weighted" lottery--according to the Park's own determination--with mounds of red tape with little compensation for years of waiting. While the Park rejected an all-reservation system as unfriendly to concessionaires and too complex, the 2006 CRMP instituted a never-before-attempted weighted lottery for noncommercial river permits.

While the 2006 CRMP allowed for a substantial increase in user days for noncommercial boaters, it comes largely in the non-summer season and at the expense of resource preservation and is still far short of fulfilling do-it-yourself demand. The bulk of new non-commercial river-running access (1,500 people) comes in the November to February "winter" season. Meanwhile, for the motorized concessionaires, it is essentially business as usual. They gained more user days, and retain their huge share of summer use. The proposal to require 4 days to Phantom for motor tours was dropped, ensuring that quickie-trip profits continue unabated. And still, guide use is not counted against outfitter allocation.

While the Park marked admirable mention of striving to make administrative, educational and scientific trips as wilderness-compliant as possible, incredibly, there was no attempt to evaluate how motors could be removed to smooth the path to wilderness designation and comply with Park Service policies. NPS wilderness policies direct parks to treat proposed wildernesses such as the Grand Canyon backcountry and river, as if they were already designated, pending a vote by Congress.

As for the helicopter shuttles, the park not only refuses to restrict them in most months, but inserted language declaring that they have no ability to do so since the helicopters use tribal lands, conveniently ignoring the parks absolute ability to regulate helicopter exchanges.

The Parks demand-measuring all-boater registration proposal was dropped. It would have adjusted commercial allocation according to true demand. This omission locks in the status quo split allocation for the life of the plan, which could be 20 years, and dooms noncommercial boaters to continued discrimination and disenfranchisement. The 2006 River Plan instituted a one-visit-per year policy for all river runners, commercial and noncommercial alike (excluding guides) year round, including the dead of winter when there are no concession services.


CRMP Reading Guide

Readers of the River Plan will recognize the FEIS Volumes 1 and 2 as similar to Volumes 1 and 2 of the Draft EIS but revised for the final plan. Volume 1 includes the Purpose and Need for Action, Alternatives (Including the Park's Preferred Alternative), and Affected Environment. Volume 2 includes Environmental Consequences and Consultation and Coordination.

The plan is approximately 1500 pages in length, divided into Volumes 1 and 2, with Appendices.

You can download the entire Colorado River Management Plan here (9MB).

You can download the Final Record of Decission here (400KB).

You can download Volume 1 of the Final Environmental Impact Statement here (3.3MB).

You can download Volume 2 of the Final Environmental Impact Statement here (5.2MB).


You can download the Non-commercial river regulations here (1MB).

You can download the Concessions river regulations here (1MB).

You can download the Hualapai Nation River Running Standards here (5MB).

You can download the River Plan Programatic Agreement between Native American Tribes and the NPS here (200KB).

You can download the Administrative River Trip Protocol here (700 KB).

You can download the Minimum Requirement Analysis here (30KB).

You can download a brief review of river mamagment between 1916 and 1956 here (8Mb).

Adobe Reader Version 5 (available free) is required, but Version 6 to 10 provide robust searching capabilities.


The following information includes River Plan Comparisons and RRFW Riverwires on the CRMP.


RRFW Riverwires on the CRMP process

CRMP Timeline
Date Action
October 1, 2004 Release date of Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS)
October 8, 2004 Publication in the Federal Register
90 days from October 8, 2004 to January 7, 2005 (extended to February 1, 2005) Public comment period with public meetings
February 2, 2004 to July 2005 CRMP team evaluates comments, revises alternatives and chooses one for implementation
November 9, 2005 Park releases Final EIS
December 9, 2005 End of 30 day no-action (and no comment) period
February 17, 2006 Signing of the CRMP into policy (Record of Decision)