Grand Canyon National Park released the Final Environmental Impact Statement today for the Colorado River through the Park.
"The park ignored alternatives which would end the discrimination between user groups, equalize group sizes, maintain and enhance wilderness values, maintain trip lengths, bring the river concessions oligopoly into the free market, and operate in a run-of-the-river drought" said Tom Martin, Co-director of River Runners for Wilderness, a national preservation group.
"This plan, six years overdue, makes a sad mockery of wilderness character on America's premier river trip" adds Jo Johnson, also of River Runners for Wilderness.
Motorized use on the river increases in the park's plan, with more helicopters and more motorboats, while do-it-yourself river runners will have to speed through the Canyon faster then ever and will still be forced to stay off the river in the summer in deference to concessions operations.
Instead of re-distributing river access between the do-it-yourself public and the river concessions, the Park has sidestepped the issue by simply increasing use. Even its common sense proposal to register all prospective visitors and nominally adjust allocation between commercial and noncommercial rivers runners based on relative demand has been dropped from the final plan.
"While the river concessions have been discount-selling their river access on e-Bay and at Costco, access for the public who would like to do a river trip on their own is made even more difficult with the Park's proposed weighted lottery-gambling-scheme. At least with the waiting list, you were assured of a trip, even if you were aged by the time you got it" observes Martin.
To see the park's plan, visit http://www.nps.gov/grca/crmp
The release of the Final Impact Statement triggers a thirty day waiting period of no change, which will be followed by a Record of Decision.
RRFW will continue its evaluation of the plan and publish informational updates.