Grand Canyon Region
One of the greatest natural wonders on Earth...
...should be protected with our greatest conservation tools.
Yet the Grand Canyon and its wild Colorado River are facing an uncertain future.
Running the Grand Canyon by boat has turned into an amusement ride in the world's largest theme park. The National Park Service continues to ignore its obligation to protect wilderness values in favor of commercial boating interests who run fast, noisy, crowded motor boats down the river to maximize profits.
Protected as federal wilderness, the untamed, natural wonders of the Grand Canyon would reign supreme--by restoring one of the most awesome river experiences in the United States, and by protecting the ecological resources that classify Grand Canyon as a crown jewel in our National Park System.
The Arizona Wilderness Coalition supports wilderness for Grand Canyon National Park that includes the Colorado River corridor.
Below is a list of concerns addressed by our Conservationists' Wilderness River Proposal, which addresses many of the concerns expressed by the park, commercial boating interests, and the general public.
Our wilderness proposal gives the same number of people the opportunity to take commercially operated tours each year, with the benefit of smaller, more personalized trips (20 as opposed to 40) and fewer encounters with other groups.
Our wilderness proposal would reduce the current crowding and degradation to vegetation and beaches by reducing group size and spreading out use into the loveliest time of year on the river - late spring and early fall. The result would be a halcyon retreat from the pace and pressure of urban life.
Our wilderness proposal retains concession services for those without the experience or desire to run the river on their own and can afford these expensive vacations. It simply shifts the allocation to non-motorized boats. Moreover, our proposal urges the National Park Service to expand the type of commercial services offered on the river to those that would allow more passenger participation and cost less.
Our wilderness proposal corrects the imbalance in allocation between commercial trips and those river-runners who don't need or can't afford such a service. It would double the number of folks who could take self-guided trips and reduce the enormous backlog of people who are now waiting as much as 20 years to get on the river.
Commercial oar-powered trips are the safest type of river trip - two independent studies have confirmed that. Professional guides on oat boats, responsible for four people rather than up to 18 on motor rigs, can accommodate passengers at all levels of physical fitness and ability. Passengers need only sit back, hold on occasionally and enjoy the delights of the canyon. On oar trips guides needn't yell over the noise of the motor; they can share their knowledge of the canyon and get to know their passengers better, thus providing more individualized service both on and off the river.
Our wilderness proposal gives folks the choice to take a trip through the entire length of the canyon in 12 to 16 days, or a 4-5 day trip through the narrow upper reaches of the canyon and hike or ride a mule out on the popular Bright Angel trail. It is also possible to join a trip at this point and spend a week on the expansive lower portion of the canyon. Both are equally spectacular, and offer many fascinating side trips that folks miss on the current motorboat tours that race through the canyon.