A Grand Canyon National Park News Release

October 1, 2004
For Immediate Release


Preferred Alternatives Outline Model
System for River Management

Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent, Joseph F. Alston, today announced the availability of the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) to revise the Colorado River Management Plan (CRMP) for Grand Canyon National Park. The National Park Service prepared the draft EIS for the CRMP under the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. Alston also announced that NPS would hold seven public meetings around the country to provide a comprehensive public review of the report.

Publication of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Notice of Availability (NOA) in the Federal Register on October 8, 2004 initiates a 90-day public review and comment period. Comments on the draft EIS can be submitted following publication of the NOA and will be accepted through January 7, 2005.

A complete copy of the draft EIS can be downloaded at www.nps.gov/grca/crmp. A CD with the complete document can be ordered online at the same website.

“This portion of the Colorado River is one of the longest stretches of navigable white water on earth, and one of the world’s premier river experiences,” Alston said. “Producing a draft EIS was a complex undertaking, and I am proud of all the hard work our park staff put into preparing this report. The document provides a comprehensive analysis of the river’s recreational use, and we are recommending some innovative alternatives to balance all the diverse management objectives.”

The proposed CRMP is a visitor use management plan that specifies actions to preserve park resources while providing recreational opportunities in the river corridor. The plan is designed to cover the next decade, and will also establish goals and objectives for a longer timeframe.

For the draft EIS, the Colorado River is divided into two geographic sections with a specific set of alternatives, including preferred alternatives, for each section:

1. One section covers Lees Ferry (River Mile 0) to Diamond Creek (River Mile 226), where the majority of commercial and private river trips start and end. A no-action alternative was analyzed as well as seven alternatives.

2. One section covers the Lower Gorge from Diamond Creek (River Mile 226) to Lake Mead (River Mile 277). This is a transitional area, starting in a primitive setting and ending in the more urban recreational setting of Lake Mead. It is handled cooperatively with the Hualapai Tribe and Lake Mead National Recreation Area. This is the first management plan for the Lower Gorge, where the situation has been complicated by drought conditions impacting downstream boat and passenger take-out options. A no-action alternative was studied as well as four alternatives.

Alternative H is the preferred alternative for the Lees Ferry to Diamond Creek section, providing six months of mixed motorized use and a six-month no-motor period (September through February). Of all the alternatives, it achieves the best balance between group size, trip length, launches per day, the total number of trips and people on the river at one time, and impacts on park resources. It has the highest total user-days and passengers in the summer, but one of the lowest total user-days and passengers the rest of the year. Commercial operators would have the same total user days as they currently do during the high use period of March through October. Non-commercial users would have more user-days and passengers than in any other alternative. Alternative H is one of the best alternatives for protecting park resources.

Alternative 4 is the preferred alternative for the Lower Gorge section (Diamond Creek to Lake Mead). This option increases the overall operations while reducing group size for all Hualapai River Runner trips. It also reduces pontoon boat operations from current levels. It spreads the trips out over a longer period of time to eliminate a peak use pattern, and includes the development of three new campsites for Hualapai use.

NPS will host a series of public meetings to receive comments about the draft EIS in each of the following seven cities, Las Vegas, Nevada; Denver, Colorado; Salt Lake City, Utah; Phoenix, Arizona; San Francisco, California; Washington, D.C; and Flagstaff, Arizona. The NPS anticipates announcing the public meeting schedule in early October.

Comments on the draft EIS can be submitted any one of the following ways:

* Mail to CRMP Project, Grand Canyon National Park, P.O. Box 129, Grand Canyon, Arizona 86023;
* Through the Park’s website at www.nps.gov/grca/crmp;
* Fax to CRMP project at 928-638-7797;
* Hand-deliver to Grand Canyon National Park; or
* Provide comments at one of the seven public meetings.

A summary of the scoping process and planning materials are available on the Internet at www.nps.gov/grca/crmp.