In a news release of July 23, 2003, the Grand Canyon River Outfitters Association (GCROA) speaks to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. GCROA noted "Grand Canyon National Park officials have so far refused to commit to identifying a preferred alternative when they release the Colorado River plan DEIS." The GCROA release goes on to state "If the NPS fails to identify a preferred alternative in the DEIS, at no time until after the new plan is implemented will the public have any indication of, nor will it have the opportunity to comment directly on, how the NPS is choosing to manage the Colorado River for years to come."
But according the National Park Service, this is not true. "I must correct a misconception in the (GCROA) Grand Canyon River News of July 23, 2003, concerning a preferred alternative for the Colorado River Management Plan" says Rick Ernenwein, lead planner for the CRMP. "The CRMP planning team is actively engaged in identifying the full range of reasonable alternatives for the plan, based upon the extensive information we have received from all sources and points of view, and is carefully evaluating the alternatives for impacts (both beneficial and adverse)." Ernenwein also noted "Only after all of that occurs can a preferred alternative be identified, so that impacts can be adequately considered, and it is simply too early to predict when that may occur."
RRFW has learned that Grand Canyon National Park continues to target late fall/early winter 2003 for the release of the Colorado River Management Plan (CRMP) Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
"However, regardless of when it occurs, be assured that NEPA requires that all interested parties have ample opportunity to review and comment upon a clearly identified preferred alternative well before any decision is made and implemented" observed Ernenwein. "As we have from the beginning, the NPS remains completely committed to extensive public involvement in this planning process, on the preferred alternative as well as on all other aspects."