Grand Canyon Protection Act Passes!
the night of October 30, 1992 President George Bush brought to
a close the 3 year effort to pass the Grand Canyon Protection
Act (GCPA). Waiting until the last minute the President signed
into law the Water Bill, a package of 30-odd measures for the
western U.S. Had one more day passed, the bill would have been
the victim of a pocket veto, dying from lack of presidential signature.
And in the end, it wasnt debate over the Protection Act
itself that pushed Bush to the brink of veto, but the fact that
it was tied to controversial reclamation reform in the Central
Valley of California, a measure to allow federal water to shift
from agricultural to urban use.
With its signing the GCPA becomes law of the land,
and helps guide our efforts to adjust operations of Glen Canyon
Dam to protect the resources of Grand Canyon. As Arizona Senator
John McCain said in Flagstaff a short time before the signing,
a lot of the credit goes to the guides who realized that things
were not right and kept the issue alive. And to the thousands
of people who cared enough about the Canyon to take the time to
write or call their Congressman. We want to thank Senator John
McCain, Senator Bill Bradley, and Congressman George Miller for
their fierce support in Congress. And our hats are off as well
to Ed Norton of the Grand Canyon Trust for his untiring efforts
in Washington. A very special thanks go out to all of you who
made all those calls and wrote all those letters. We at GCRG are
happy and relieved; we feel we can now spend more time focused
on the local issues. We all deserve a great big "atta boy/girl".
What exactly does passage of the GCPA mean to those
who care about the river? It states once and for all that Glen
Canyon Dam shall be operated in such a manner as to protect, mitigate,
and enhance the resources of Grand Canyon National Park and Glen
Canyon National Recreation Area. As Ed Norton said, "It puts
a stake through the heart of the principle that power has primacy"
in operations at the dam. The Act also guarantees that interim
flows remain in effect until the Environmental Impact Study is
completed. Lastly it mandates that a long-term monitoring program
be initiated, with annual reports to Congress, to ensure that
the Canyon and River remain protected. On the minus side is an
amendment that transfers funding for the ongoing studies and the
cost of replacement power from the power users to the general
The question before now us is "What next?"
Will passage of the Grand Canyon Protection Act guarantee that
the Canyon is protected? The answer is no. While the GCPA will
set the basis for operations at the dam, that decision will be
made by the Secretary of the Interior upon completion of the EIS.
The management process and monitoring program that emerges from
the EIS will shape the future of the Canyon. It is important that
we continue to be active participants in the process. Although
the Grand Canyon Protection Act is a pillar on which we can lean,
it is not yet time to sit down.