Second Lottery Draws a Crowd

Grand Canyon National Park has just completed a noncommercial Followup Permit Lottery for the 2007 calendar year to raft the Colorado River in the park. The Followup Lottery ran from November 27 through December 4, 2006. The Followup Lottery had 45 available launch dates, thirty-one of which were in the January and February or the November and December time periods of 2007. The dates offered were still open from the first lottery held on October 23, 2006, and were a mix of trip dates that were not taken, forfeited or otherwise not filled in the first lottery.

According to the National Park Service, there were 1038 applicants for the 45 Followup dates, resulting in a 1 in 23 chance of winning. The initial 2007 lottery had 2,534 applications in the lottery for 197 dates, or a 1 in 13 chance of winning. The astonishing rise in the proportion of applicants to number of dates may be an indicator of river runners learning about the lottery scheme too late for the initial one.

As with October's lottery, the Followup was fraught with computer errors. Baffled losers from the initial lottery who signed up online for the Followup were greeted with the erroneous message "you are already on a trip this year" when they attempted to enter. National Park Service staff encouraged applicants who received this error message to try reapplying later in the week once the Park fixed the problem.

Although an option to be notified of future lotteries was offered, a number of individuals who had requested notification of future lotteries, including the Followup lottery, were never contacted by Park staff.

Individuals who listed additional participants, called potential alternate trip leaders or PATLs by the NPS, were placed on hold while the NPS reviewed the legitimacy of the alternate.

Although entry payment was waived for those who entered and lost the initial lottery held October 23rd, some applicants inadvertently paid again to enter the Followup Lottery. A small notice in the Followup application was easily overlooked, resulting in the collection of double payments by the Park.

According to the Park Service, the Followup Lottery results will be posted December 11. The announcement, on December 11th, will only allow the winners of the first trip in the Lottery, January 5, 2007, a little over three weeks to pull their river trip together.

The lottery is a new permit distribution system which only applies to the rafting public who does not use park concessionaires, and is part of the contested 2006 Colorado River Management Plan. The new plan, presently in litigation, offers do-it-yourself river runners an increased opportunity to get permits, nearly all of them during the winter months. It also mandates cuts in trip lengths throughout the year.