Humpback Chubs and Private Boaters in the Grand?
by Christina King
Pikes Peak River Runners (PPRR) and the Private Boaters Coalition have allowed us to communicate this event to many private boaters. We belong to the GCPBA, Utahrafters, Idaho Whitewater Association, Pikes Peak Whitewater club, Colorado Whitewater Association , High Country River Rafters (HCRR) and American Whitewater organizations. Each of these organizations help organize and voice private boater concerns in the Grand Canyon and other rivers across the country. The transformation of communication within the private boating community (through the internet) in the last 5 years has been astounding. Communication can happen in an instant and through multiple channels.
We arrived early to attend the GCPBA pre-event get-together and met many GCPBA Board members (see the pictures below). Thanks to GCPBA for the food and drinks. Ricardo, Warren and Tom made us all feel welcome and it was great to meet the GCPBA members in person. They shared a "Trashy Little Video" with attendees about a river cleanup trip on the San Juan.
Ricardo (Richard Martin-GCPBA President), Andy Horn (private boater), Warren Musselman (GCPBA board member), Tom Schiavone. (GCPBA volunteer coordinator) and attendees.
The CRMP open house began at 4 pm and we entered a large hall at the Denver Tivoli Center greeted by Living River representatives "the Humpback Chubs".
Ted Smith (former HCRR President) got a closeup visit from the Chubs. As we got further inside the hall, I saw many NPS employees and lots of information stations where private boaters got to write and discuss their input with NPS employees. The Grand Canyon Park Superintendent spent some time with us both listening and sharing information about himself. Mr. Alston is a former river ranger and avid boater. He rows his own boat in the Grand several times a year for work (and his name is on the private boater wait list). He was a river ranger in Dinosaur during the 1970's. He listened to our concerns for equitable access to the Grand Canyon for private boaters.
I went to each station and read the information and wrote down my input (along with the Chub). The hot topics seemed to be #1 Equal access and the excessively long waits to get private boaters on the river compared to commercial trips. Check out commercial companies that routinely have trips available for the Grand Canyon on a monthly basis whereas private boaters can wait up to 20 years for the opportunity to run it themselves.
Other issues that were documented were the no motors perspective and flow program (lack of sediment) in the Grand. I liked the 8 foot map of the Grand Canyon corridor that was laid out for private boaters to put their input on. Steve Hatch from Hatch River Expeditions (along with an outfitter lobbyist) attended and joined the focus group that Pete participated in. I joined a different focus group to see other perspectives and cover the bases. I was pleased to see about 150 private boaters and many boating friends from Colorado.
I introduced myself to Linda Jalbert who was involved in directing a Grand Canyon private boater perception research study that we participated in several years ago. One of the strongest perceptions I had was of how important personal communication can be at an event like this. Writing letters and email work to back up those issues in written form but face-to-face communication has a strong impact. A pessimistic attitude is understandable from the past history but you can either complain and not do anything or participate.
I vote to participate. Complaining accomplishes nothing and doesn't make me feel better. I tried to provide possible solutions with all of my comments and will look forward to see the results of this process. My input and interactions with the park service will start with a perspective of "positive intent".