Rededication Ceremonies, October 9th

   Secretary of Interior Babbitt, in his keynote address during the Park’s 75th Anniversary ceremonies at Powell Memorial on a gorgeous fall afternoon, painted today's management issues as similar to those surrounding the park's opening in 1919. Then, like now, the focus was on concessions, reclamation, the return of fees to the park, and, the hot issue then, transportation. It’s easy to see why. Five thousand visitors on horseback or in the occasional Model T or more commonly by train, were one heck of a lot of folks in a park with a budget of $40,000!

   Today NPS' Grand Canyon budget is $12,000,000. Just shy of 5,000,000 individuals visited in 1993. The majority spent a mere 45 minutes staring into the vast, unimaginable chasm far beneath their feet. As far as is known, not one person floated the Colorado in 1919; approximately 22,000 did so in 1993. And, curiously, transportation is still the big issue. Just now it is airplanes and river crowding, parking and emissions. Such are the times. But these days discussions on how to best address management issues revolve not only around partnerships between regulating agencies but, more importantly, on protecting the biodiversity of the Colorado Plateau en toto. In his speech, Babbitt called for a comprehensive regional plan for the 21st Century. Management decisions effecting Grand Canyon can only play a pivotal, far reaching role, should Babbitt’s vision secure a foothold.

Shane Murphy