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Commercial development/Tram into Grand Canyon

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Canyonram
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Commercial development/Tram into Grand Canyon

Post by Canyonram » Mar 26 2012 8:11 am

Navajo Nation has announced plans for a huge commercial development on the eastern edge of the Grand Canyon Park. Plans include motel, restaurants, and a tram to take visitors down to the Colorado/Little Colorado confluence. Some of the details have been made available: http://azdailysun.com/news/local/state- ... 5b2d6.html

(If link doesn't work, web search on Arizona Daily Sun Tram objections mount)

I'd like to hear from the forum members---once again, a complex issue with no easy answers.

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Re: Commercial development/Tram into Grand Canyon

Post by azbackpackr » Mar 26 2012 9:05 pm

The only consolation in something like that, and in something like the Sacred Toilet Seat attraction elsewhere (you can guess what I'm talking about) the only real consolation is that long after the human race is gone, Grand Canyon will still be there, eroding away the rocks and the ancient ruins of civilizations long past...
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Re: Commercial development/Tram into Grand Canyon

Post by WilliamnWendi » Mar 26 2012 9:57 pm

chumley wrote:And to think this is being "planned" by one of the groups participating in the lawsuit for the so-called protection of the SF Peaks/Snowbowl. It reeks of hypocrisy
Gotta say I am a little stunned too. I don't mind development and capitalization but a tram in the canyon versus reclaimed water on mountain top? Not seeing much of a difference.
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Re: Commercial development/Tram into Grand Canyon

Post by Tough_Boots » Mar 26 2012 10:19 pm

@WilliamnWendi

If this area of the Grand Canyon is considered a sacred space, then there isn't a difference. If it is not a sacred space, then it is totally different. Either way, I oppose both. Make the tourists work for it!
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Re: Commercial development/Tram into Grand Canyon

Post by Jim_H » Mar 27 2012 8:39 am

The Navajo came in from the north and Alaska, or east over by the Sangres if you believe their myths. Either way, I have never heard one call the Grand Canyon Sacred. There are sacred mountains, and the Peaks are one of them. The Hopi, or some of the members of the Hopi, such as the maintenance guy at the place I used to live in Flag, have oral histories that cause them to believe they came out of the Canyon, either religiously or literally when they must have lived and farmed some areas down there. Either way, the Canyon can be sacred to some Hopi. The Navajo probably didn't even get over near the canyon in any significant presence until the late 19th or early 20 century, as a guess, since unless you are traveling down to the river, the area they propose to build this is far from high quality land. Dry, barren, probably no springs or very few, and low so very little vegetation. The only thing I question is the economic feasibility since it will be very isolated and who knows if construction costs will be paid back through profits, and will they end up having enough visitors? They should build a casino nearby, with a year round resort, maybe a small city, a coal electric station, lots of lighting; something really nice to attract people in their cars.
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Re: Commercial development/Tram into Grand Canyon

Post by hippiepunkpirate » Mar 27 2012 9:18 am

Jim_H wrote:The only thing I question is the economic feasibility since it will be very isolated and who knows if construction costs will be paid back through profits, and will they end up having enough visitors?
The Grand Canyon Skywalk is out in the middle of frickin' nowhere out on the Hualapai Reservation, and it is a tremendous economical success. Ask the average non-hiker/non-outdoors type person about the Canyon, and they'll probably babble something about the skywalk and little else.
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Re: Commercial development/Tram into Grand Canyon

Post by azbackpackr » Mar 27 2012 11:52 am

The Sacred Toilet Seat is in the middle of a lot of litigation. It is also cracking, has foundation problems.

The area in question at LCR is heavily visited by people on river trips, unless I am misunderstanding where it is to be.
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Re: Commercial development/Tram into Grand Canyon

Post by JimmyLyding » Mar 27 2012 7:42 pm

The Skywalk is quite a different animal than a resort/casino/tram to the bottom of the Grand Canyon development. The Skywalk is junior varsity compared to the monstrosity the Navajos are proposing. The article says the tribe is expecting 3 million visitors a year by 2015, up to 2,000 jobs and $40-70 million in revenue. That seems ridiculous considering Grand Canyon National Park attracted 4.4 million visitors in 2010. This does not seem like a good idea at all.

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Re: Commercial development/Tram into Grand Canyon

Post by Jim_H » Mar 27 2012 8:04 pm

Personally, I think the tribe is either after something else, or pretty naive.
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Re: Commercial development/Tram into Grand Canyon

Post by chumley » Mar 27 2012 10:45 pm

a + b = c. both of the above
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Re: Commercial development/Tram into Grand Canyon

Post by PaleoRob » Mar 27 2012 11:43 pm

This spot reserved for my thoughts on the matter. Coming soon - after I get about 24 hours of solid sleep.
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Re: Commercial development/Tram into Grand Canyon

Post by azbackpackr » Mar 28 2012 3:20 am

I am wondering, Rob, whether that water rights grab has anything to do with this project.
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Re: Commercial development/Tram into Grand Canyon

Post by Canyonram » Apr 01 2012 12:19 pm

The recent proposal to further develop Grand Canyon for tourist use is not at all unique in the recent 100 year history of the area as a National Park. When the first Anglo-European miners in the area realized that there was more $$$ to be made by mining tourists instead of mining for non-existent gold, the race has been on to build and cater to tourists. The current structures along both Rims (El Tovar Hotel, North Rim Lodge, Bright Angel Lodge, Desert View Watchtower, etc) were built to handle the growing tourist trade that now averages 4.5 million visitors per year (4 million to the South Rim, 500,000 to the North Rim). Trams into the Canyon have been done before---the most famous being the tram down to Hermit Camp from the South Rim to supply the Inner Canyon tent city built to accomodate wealthy tourists. A tram was built from the South Rim to Indian Gardens during the construction of the water pipeline.These trams (and other conmmerical developments) were dismantled as the National Park Service has attempted to follow President Teddy Roosevelt's advice:

This speech which President Roosevelt made at the Grand Canyon, Arizona, on May 6, 1903* shows how he thought people should treat the Grand Canyon (http://www.theodoreroosevelt.org/kidsco ... Canyon.htm).

"In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which, so far as I know, is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world. I want to ask you to do one thing in connection with it in your own interest and in the interest of the country - to keep this great wonder of nature as it now is.

I was delighted to learn of the wisdom of the Santa Fe railroad people in deciding not to build their hotel on the brink of the canyon. I hope you will not have a building of any kind, not a summer cottage, a hotel, or anything else, to mar the wonderful grandeur, the sublimity, the great loneliness and beauty of the canyon.

Leave it as it is. You can not improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it. What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children's children, and for all who come after you, as one of the great sights which every American if he can travel at all should see.

We have gotten past the stage, my fellow-citizens, when we are to be pardoned if we treat any part of our country as something to be skinned for two or three years for the use of the present generation, whether it is the forest, the water, the scenery. Whatever it is, handle it so that your children's children will get the benefit of it."


Note that Roosevelt is asserting that the responsibility for maintaining the primitive nature of the Canyon is our responsibility---the burden to keep the place 'sacred' is ours and not something that falls strictly on Native Americans. The proposal by the Navajo Nation to construct into the Canyon is criticized by some that they are forsaking their own guardianship of the sacred in pursuit of the dollar. At the same time the Navajo people are criticized for being mired in overwhelming poverty (and by extension, not doing anything about it---just look at all the derelict cars on Navajo Nation), they are shamed for looking at ways to bring jobs and opportunity to the Tribe. Native Americans are held accountable to the 'Sacred Earth' philosophy even as they struggle to survive in the 'Not So Sacred Earth' modern world. The real tragedy is Native peoples will indeed lose their identity in the financial exchange as more and more of Native culture and traditions are bartered away for a 'piece of the American pie.'

Meanwhile the dominant Anglo-European culture proceeds to lay waste to the environment. After all, the Christian Bible in Genesis 1:28 has given Adam/Eve and the rest of the human race this duty: And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”" It must be some sort of cultural shock to discover that the Navajo Nation is looking to assert their own dominion and to follow the same Biblical mandate. While the confluence of the Colorado/Little Colorado is considered 'sacred' by some Navajo tribal members, is it indeed SACRED to the Hopi people. The Hopi belief is that they (and the rest of the human race) emerged into this current world via a Sipapu (a natural salt dome that is approximately 8 meters high containing a spring) near the confluence of the Colorado and the Little Colorado Rivers. Reaching it requires a day-long hike along Salt Trail Canyon (or a 4 day round- trip from the South Rim via the Tanner Trail). The Navajo are thus not intruding on a primary sacred area within their Creation story with the proposed tram and hotel, they are simply ignoring the Hopi Creation and like their Anglo-European counterparts feel free to subdue and assert dominion---even if it is at the expense of another culture. Afterall, the Navajo were 'assigned' this border along the Grand Canyon by the US government even as the Hopi and Havasupai were placed on reservations that separated them from their traditional Grand Canyon roots. The San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff are part of the Navajo story---and one of the Four Sacred Mountains that define the Navajo place in the World---so it is no contradiction for Navajo Nation to be opposed to the ski slopes and recycled snow on the Peaks while at the same instant looking to build a billion dollar tourist trap on the edge of Grand Canyon.

Anyone opposed to the current Navajo Nation proposal should also look at the current way the Canyon has been exploited. We have a dam on either end of the Colorado River that has strangled the wilderness from the River----river rafting trips are now not much different than taking an extended log plume ride at Disneyland. While the Disneyland trip is for 15 minutes, they Canyon plume ride is for a few days. In both situations, you enjoy steak dinners and ice cream at the end of the day's ride. Planes and helicopters intrude overhead, their noise the clatter of amusement park rides. Mule trains move tourists into the Canyon with the pack animals leaving piles of manure along the trail. Fast food wrappers and soda cans tumble from the Rim and are found down into the Inner Canyon. Near extinct California Condors gather along the South Rim, comfortable with the close contact with humans---any notion of seeing a wild and rare creature gone since they are all equipped with radio tracking devices. Ditto the radio-collared mountain lions. Reintroduced Elk (from Yellowstone Park) create photo opportunities but also opportunity to have your vehicle smashed. The small town of Tusayan on the South Rim is looking at a major construction project of hotels/shopping malls. Uranium mining in and around Grand Canyon will continue should the economics play out for the mining industry---some 10,000 mining claims await development if the mining industry has their way. The Forest Service is preparing to cut old growth timber on the North Rim while the Park Service continues to play with fire and 'controlled burns.' Even the primitive wilderness trails deep into the Canyon no longer deserve the designation---enough hikers have taken these routes over the years that their boot prints have defined paths and destroyed the illusion of a backcountry experience. Stub your toe while on a hike and simply set off your rescue beacon and be helicoptered to safety. So many plastic water bottles were discarded in the Park, their sale within the Park had to be stopped. Enough human waste was being 'buried' within the Canyon by backpackers and river runners, the Park Service had to develop requirements to carry out fecal waste. The list goes on . . . .

Perhaps the only salvation would be to go 'Monkey Wrench' on all commercial development. Bulldoze all the structures and gift shops and hotels, rip up all the pavement and parking lots. To see the Rim would require a hike through natural forest, not a stop at the Imax movie theatre. Allow the constructed trails to crumble. Should you wish to hike into the Inner Canyon, come prepared to discover your route. Decommission the Glen Canyon Dam and allow the Colorado River to run free. Only until these things are accomplished is it 'fair' to stand against the Navajo Nation for their proposal for hotels/restaurants/tram. Afterall, they are only proposing to continue doing to the Canyon what the dominant culture has already done.

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Re: Commercial development/Tram into Grand Canyon

Post by JimmyLyding » Apr 02 2012 8:46 pm

That's quite a post, Canyonram. Rock on! However, my fundamental disagreement with your post is that any development is permissible because of both what happened previously and current despoilment. I just want to protect the Canyon as much as possible.

I don't want mining near the Canyon. I don't want any more development on either rim. I could even live with mules being either banned or operating in reduced numbers with the operators forced to clean up the animal waste. I'm definitely against logging on the North Rim. I most certainly don't want a development that's designed to attract 3 million visitors-per-year.

I would be against this proposed development if I were a Navajo because I don't think they will end up with something that lives up to expectations.

I'm very much in favor of Native American economic development, any development, as long as the cost to the environment doesn't outweigh the overall benefit, economic and otherwise. What happened to Native Americans frankly sucks. It was not done fairly, and the fact that it was done in the first place isn't fair. That doesn't excuse them from facing disagreement over how they use their land. I support environmentalists speaking out against proposed developments near the Grand Canyon, and I support environmentalists speaking out against development on the Kachina Peaks.

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Re: Commercial development/Tram into Grand Canyon

Post by Canyonram » Apr 15 2012 10:28 am

Hi Jim,

Of course my intent is to protect the Canyon. My 'defense' of the Navajo Nation proposal was meant to be sarcastic by making the comparison to what has already been done at the Canyon.

As long as I can remember, the Canyon as a natural wilderness has been under attack. One of my first environmental activist involvements was to work against the development of additional dams within the Inner Canyon. Many people do not realize that the Glen Canyon Dam (1963) was simply the first to be constructed with additional dams, Marble Canyon and Bridge Canyon, proposed for the Inner Canyon. The Glen Canyon Dam was meant to stop the silt/debri into Lake Powell (which is certainly working as planned---estimates are that 90-95% of all sediment is dropped behind the dam). The public outrage was sufficient to halt the construction of the two dams---at least as of 1968.

As our population grows and we demand our modern lifestyle, the Canyon will continue to be looked as an asset for development over a 'wilderness' location for a few extreme backpackers and other environmental activists. At some point more dams will be proposed for electricity, more water diverted to big cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas, more water squeezed for agriculture. I'm anti-nuclear power---will it come down to making a choice between hydroelectric power and a string of Inner Canyon dams to meet the power needs of an exploding population---or do we harvest uranium from the Colorado Plateau and build more and more nuclear power plants? Do we line the rim of the Canyon with windmills / solar panels to harvest electricity from the wind and sun?

The NPS currently limits Inner Canyon overnight hikes to 20,000 per year---not too many people taking that option to experience the Canyon. Also, realize how few members of our forum have an activist frame of mind when it comes to both learning about the environmental issues and then speaking out and becoming politcally involved. Only a handful have voiced concern over the Navajo proposal or continued uranium mining near/within Grand Canyon. Perhaps that is a realistic view of what we should expect regarding protecting the Canyon. When push comes to shove, a few million people needing water and electricity will overwhelm the interests of the outdoor and activist environmental handful.

Stilo, an Italian real-estate company, has been working to develop areas around the Canyon for over two decades. Now that the small community of Tusayan (about 500 permanent residents) has become incorporated, Stilo has been negotiating with Tusayan to put in a 374 acre development with rumors of shopping malls, spas, conference center, and a dude ranch. Where they will get the water is an unanswered issue. Perhaps they can use the runoff from the 10,000 uranium mining claims?
http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepubli ... sayan.html

The Hopi Tribe has voiced their opposition to the Navajo propsal:
http://navajohopiobserver.com/main.asp? ... M=48004.84

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Re: Commercial development/Tram into Grand Canyon

Post by Boscoaz » Nov 30 2012 8:50 am

Latest update on the new development. I didn't realize this was still being discussed.

http://cronkitenewsonline.com/2012/11/t ... ttraction/
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Re: Commercial development/Tram into Grand Canyon

Post by writelots » Nov 30 2012 10:33 am

Terrifying...that so many people would be gullible enough to believe that this is going to help their economy enough to justify the loss of one of the last wild places in the country.
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Re: Commercial development/Tram into Grand Canyon

Post by hikeaz » Nov 30 2012 10:56 am

As against this moving forward as I am, I don't think that the Navajos are doing anything that Xanterra (or any other concessionaire) would not do, given the chance.

The anglos "vanquished" the Navajos years ago, generally mistreating them even afterwards - gave them anglo laws (along with some dreaded diseases, etc.).
I applaud them for using what was thrust on them to their benefit, even if it is not to mine(ours).

I can tell you that it would certainly be quieter, less obtrusive and more centralized than the hundreds of daily chopper flights over the so-called 'backcountry' in the Canyon - by a LONG shot. The choppers are seen and heard almost everywhere in the Canyon (although they try to skirt the Village some to quell any riots by the residents) and negatively affect thousands every day - I doubt if .1% (that's a tenth of a percent) of the visitors to the park even know where the Little Colorado IS - even if they have heard of it.
A development at the L.C. could even lead to an improvement to the Blue Springs trail (and others)... with the hoards trying to save the tram fee and hiking in instead ;)
Last edited by hikeaz on Nov 30 2012 11:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Commercial development/Tram into Grand Canyon

Post by azbackpackr » Nov 30 2012 11:00 am

It's outrageous. I hope it never happens. To say that hikers and boaters cause as much disturbance as permanent tourist structures would is just ridiculous. Hikers and boaters are gone long before nightfall, since no camping is allowed there, and the place goes back to being free of human intrusion. Plus, people do not land there or hike there every day of the year. There are many days during the winter when no one stops there.

Comparing this with helicopter overflights is comparing apples and oranges. Those flights could possibly someday be eliminated, (hopefully), whereas structures will remain for a very long time. The Navajos have a new casino, people will go there. They have coal, they make money on that. They are a resourceful people, but this is going too far.
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Re: Commercial development/Tram into Grand Canyon

Post by big_load » Nov 30 2012 11:04 am

How soon are they starting tours of the Sipapu?

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Re: Commercial development/Tram into Grand Canyon

Post by Al_HikesAZ » Nov 30 2012 11:49 am

Whá'thé'hé'éy!!
Don't mess withTsélché'ékooh
Ahééhee'

As the article mentions there is a lot of conflict over the proposal. There was a big full page ad in the Navajo Times back in August advocating for the development. I'm sure there have been more ads, I just don't read the Navajo Times everyday.
It is less hurtful to the Diné bikéyah (Navajo Nation) then coal development. And people in the Bennett Freeze area are looking for ways to find employment. And people in the Bennett Freeze area hate the Hopitah Shin-nu-mu. And the Hopi call the Navajo "Tavasuh" which means "head bangers" or "beaters" and have no use for the Navajo at all considering them to be the worst sort of thieves.

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