Every year, more than 22,000 people run the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Amazingly, there is still a list of 8,000 private, non-commercial boaters who have waited up to 15 years to get on the ultimate whitewater run in the country.
That waiting list is among several reasons the National
Park Service has released a draft management plan and environmental
impact statement for the river. The plan will address protection of
camping beaches, allocation of trips between commercial outfitters
and private boaters, the preservation of wild and primitive
conditions, and relations with the neighboring Hualapai Tribe.
The Park Service’s preferred management scheme,
Alternative H, would cut down the waiting list by almost doubling
the number of private boaters through the canyon, increasing
overall user days from 171,000 to 218,000, and shortening trip
lengths. The alternative would also shrink commercial group sizes
and prohibit motorized trips during the winter. But the overall
increase in river runners would concentrate pressure on camping
beaches, and the Park Service would still allow outfitters to use
motors and helicopters during the summer.
Park Service will accept public comments on the proposed management
alternatives through Jan. 7, 2005. To read the draft plan or to
send comments to the Park Service, visit www.nps.gov/grca/crmp.