In a January 12, 2004 letter, Arizona Senator John McCain has reaffirmed his support for the ongoing Colorado River Management Planning effort (CRMP) and stated his opposition to legislation that would interrupt the CRMP. The letter was written to Representative George Radanovich, Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Recreation and Public Lands. Representative Radanovich is proposing a new wilderness recommendation that excludes the Colorado River. Grand Canyon National Park staff have responded to a request from the NPS Directorate to prepare the necessary documentation, as requested by Radanovich's office.
Senator McCain makes it clear "that the proposed wilderness legislation for Grand Canyon National Park is premature and should await the completion of the ongoing CRMP revision process. It is the implicit requirement of an EIS process to "answer [the] many questions" associated with controversial subjects such as management of one of our nation's most cherished national parks."
In the letter, Senator McCain refers to the January 2002 settlement agreement in a lawsuit brought by conservationists and river runners, where the National Park Service agreed to resume the CRMP revision in order to resolve numerous access and wilderness issues. Senator McCain notes "as part of the settlement, the court and stakeholders agreed that the use of commercial motorized boats on the river would be among the issues addressed by the National Park Service (NPS) in a renewed planning process. The river concessionaires were a party to this settlement."
After reviewing the planning process to date, including the mention of the agency amassing over 50,000 comments, Senator McCain points out the "planned release of a draft CRMP within the next few months will undoubtedly produce additional public comment. This outreach process should be encouraged, not short-circuited before all the complex issues are fully explored by the public, the agency, and ultimately Congress. I strongly discourage initiating any legislation that would interrupt or re-direct the current public process, in which so many citizens are invested."
River Runners For Wilderness thanks Senator McCain for taking this leadership role in ensuring the Colorado River Management Plan will move forward without special interest meddling.