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the newsletter of Grand Canyon River Guides, Inc.
volume 5   number 4 fall 1992
Grand Canyon Protection Act Passes!

ate 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 wasn’t 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 public.

   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.

big horn sheep