Do We Need River Concessionaires?

July 2002. Do we need river concessionaires in Grand Canyon National Park? Maybe not. What if the 16 concessionaires operating on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park were changed into Incidental Business Permits (IPBs)? This flexible model allows for businesses to offer support services from food packs to consulting to guiding in a very competitive climate to meet the various needs of backcountry wilderness travelers from Boundary Waters to Grand Canyon.

The analogy is in hunting. Once the hunter draws a permit, they can hire a hunting guide. The same applies to GCNP backcountry, where once an individual receives a permit to backpack, they can seek out a guide to accompany them. The guide holds a National Park authorized IBP. GCNP can issue as many IBPs as there are companies thinking they would like to provide services to the market. Such open competition allows the greatest economic good to the regional economy.


Nearly all river travelers use support services, whether it is shuttle services for a non-commercial trip, or a gourmet guided trip on a tour boat. Wouldn't it make more sense to allow folks to contract just for the services they need whether it's a commercial-style trip for a family that is willing to provide and cook their own food, or a noncommercial group that needs only a cook or boatman? There would be an explosion of employment opportunities for experienced river staff and substantially more sales tax dollars in the coffers of northern Arizona.

River concessions have actively blocked park wilderness protection for the last 30 years. Wouldn't it be best to have businesses that support the park's wilderness resource instead of attempt to exclude the river from wilderness protection? The present river concessionaires use their financial and political might to change the course of river management and block much needed reform in the Grand Canyon.

A new river support services paradigm could be a reality with YOUR HELP.Please take a few minutes to consider the issues and get involved. Protect Grand Canyon from entrenched commercial interests. Send your comments by September 20, 2002 or make them in person at one of the 4 scoping sessions. To comment by mail, send your thoughts, along with your name and address, to:

Grand Canyon National Park
PO Box 129
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023

or by email:

For more information on the scoping workshops, visit