Private boaters unite

  After witnessing one wrangle too many between private and commercial boaters in the Grand Canyon, Tom Martin decided to take action. This winter he formed the Grand Canyon Private Boaters Association, a counterpart to the nonprofit group for professionals, the Grand Canyon River Guides. "The park seems to know what it wants and Grand Canyon (commercial) guides have a pretty good idea what they want," says the association's vice president, Terry Hubbard, "but no one is speaking for the private boaters." With the revision of the 10-year Grand Canyon River Management Plan coming up, Martin is focusing on equalizing private and commercial river use and shortening the time spent waiting to raft. He notes that of the 800 launches made between April and October last year, only a quarter were private. In that same period, about 90 percent of the 21,000 people on the river were commercial users. With 6,500 people waiting to float the canyon, Martin knows there's a constituency for his group. The hard part is convincing independent-minded river runners to sign up. A $20 yearly membership fee will get you The Waiting List, the group's six-page newsletter, and the chance to win a Dagger kayak. Contact GCPBA at P.O. Box 2133, Flagstaff, AZ, 86003-2133 (520/214-8676) or by e-mail, gcpba@flagstaff.az.us.