RRFW Riverwire – Concessions Lobby Congress While Overwhelming Permit Denials Increase

March 10, 2017

Grand Canyon river concessionaires’ representatives from Hatch River Expeditions, Western River Expeditions, and Arizona Raft Adventures, accompanied by their paid Trade Association representative, have just completed their annual lobby week in Washington, D.C.

Ironically, while the highly subsidized river rafting companies lobbied to reduce pay for their employees, a six night motorized tour traveling 180 miles through the 280 mile long Grand Canyon costs about $3,000 per person, and is available in the prime summer season for purchase today.

Grand Canyon National Park plans to roll their contentious 2006 Colorado River Management Plan ahead for at least another decade as new ten year river concessions contracts are being put out for renewal this year.

All this is occurring while the 2018 do-it-yourself river trip lottery saw the highest participation ever as 6,650 river runners paid $25 each to apply for the lottery for 463 Grand Canyon river launches. In 2015, over 4,900 permit applicants competed for 472 available launches.

The 2006 Grand Canyon National Park Colorado River Management Plan introduced a completely new lottery permit application mechanism for do-it-yourself river runners. Prior to 2006, permits were distributed on a first come first served Waiting List. There are roughly 2,000 individual permit applicants still on that Waiting List, roughly 150 of which receive a permit annually.

River Runners for Wilderness again urges do-it-yourself river runners to directly request assistance from their Congressional Representatives in obtaining a permit.

Call to arrange a cordial, friendly visit to a Senator or Congressperson’s representative caseworker. At that visit, river runners should present a copy of proof of lottery participation and loss. Request that the caseworker send a letter to the Director of the National Park Service.

Your pre-written letter should simply state the river runner has been denied noncommercial access to the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park after applying to an annual lottery for several years, and that immediate access is readily available by paying a concessionaire. The letter should point out that this situation is unfair and unjust.

Include in your letter that denying access to many people who want to run rivers themselves, while ensuring access for over-priced guided tours that few Americans can afford, is wrong.

Include the following statement from the National Park Service Organic Act: “...no natural curiosities, wonders, or objects of interest shall be leased, rented, or granted to anyone on such terms as to interfere with free access to them by the public...”

Also important is to mention that you called a travel agent, Grand Canyon river concessions company, or you searched the web and can verify it is possible to book 16 seats on a river trip for the following year. Any date and any type of concessions river trip, oar powered or motorized, will do.

Include in your letter that you would like to exercise your right to run the river without having to pay a concessionaire, and simply ask the Director of the National Park Service to release vacant concessions space so that you may receive a permit to raft the Grand Canyon non-commercially. At the very least, Congress and the Department of Interior must become aware of Grand Canyon’s inequitable allocation situation.

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