January 2003. The dates, times and locations for the next step in the Colorado River Management Plan have been announced. This step will involve stakeholder workshops and expert panels. The stakeholder workshops will cover the noncommercial trip permit system, and the spectrum of services to be provided to the public. Certain designated attributes (e.g. flexibility, simplicity, fairness, etc.) of a permit system and types of services will be rated against each other to understand what different segments of stakeholders consider to be important considerations. The Park and its CRMP contractor, SWCA, will use this expanded information in addition to scoping comments already received to craft the new CRMP.

The original concept included 10 designated stakeholder groups. Each group was to be comprised of 4 stakeholder representatives. These representatives would then participate in each of the interactive workshops. Some of the 10 stakeholder groups identified for inclusion were: non-commercial boaters, river outfitters, commercial clients, outfitting guides, wilderness groups, scientists, Native American Tribes, and ecological groups.

River Runners for Wilderness (RRFW), the Grand Canyon Wilderness Alliance, business interests and other stakeholders have voiced concerns about a lack in depth of the representation of the non commercial segment at the stakeholder workshops. While commercial boating stakeholder groups include river concessioners, commercial passengers, and river guides for a total of 12 stakeholder seats, non commercial boaters who include permit holders, passengers, non-commercial river running advocate groups and non-commercial support services all vied for a total of 4 stakeholder seats. Mary Orton, the contractor arranging these meetings, has acknowledged the noncommercial community may be underrepresented and is exploring options to address this concern raised by RRFW.

The expert panels' topics will cover allocation of user days among user groups--sure to be a lively topic--as one, and physical, social and ecological carrying capacity, group size and seasonality of recreational use of the river for the other discussion.

All expert panels and stakeholder workshops will be held at the Arizona State Capitol building in the Governor's Protocol Room, 1700 West Washington, in downtown Phoenix, and videoconferenced to a room--as yet unspecified--at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.

Expert Panel #1 will be held on Wednesday, January 29, 2003 from 2:00pm to 5:00pm and 6:00pm to 9:00pm. The two Stakeholder Workshops will be held Thursday, January 30, 2003 at times to be announced. The second Expert panel will held on Friday, January 31, 2003, and be from 8:00am to 11:00am and 1:00pm to 4:00pm. In addition, the sessions will be videotaped and made available to interested persons not able to attend the Arizona meetings.

All events will be open to the public, and the Expert Panels will allow for questions by the audience. More information will be coming your way as it is made available.