Paul Tullis's Grim Tidings

Bitter musings on politics and policy

An environmentalist lawsuit I disagree with

with 2 comments

Green groups sued to ban motorized rafts and helicopters from the Grand Canyon, arguing, as reported in the NY Times,

that the use of motorized rafts on the Colorado River and helicopters to make passenger exchanges impairs the wilderness character of the park and that the National Park Service violated its management policies and federal law by allowing their continued use.

I don’t know what the NPS management policies are, but I’ve rafted the Grand Canyon twice and from what I saw there were definitely people down there on motorboats who wouldn’t have made the trip otherwise. Oar and paddleboats can be harrowing to say the least when running the Canyon’s huge and fast rapids, and are more dangerous by virtue of their smaller size and reduced power capability. I can only assume that helicopters provide similar access; the way down, from the most touristed part of the Canyon, is a long, steep hike with virtually no shade that’s hell on the knees. And people have died on other routes.

I say it’s worth it to get more people to see this unique natural wonder–the Canyon from its bottom provides a completely different perspective than the one from the rim–and that with the size of motorboats they can get a lot of people on with relatively little noise disturbance. Helicopters can be set on certain flight paths and their landing areas limited so as few visitors as possible see them.

What do you think?

Appeals Court Rejects Suit Against Motorized Rafts in Grand Canyon

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Written by ptullis

July 24, 2009 at 1:14 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Reminds me of Teddy Roosevelt’s style of conservation, where folks should respect the environment and tread lightly but still be able to hunt/fish/ride/etc, as opposed to the modern, more religious environmentalism.

    Mathew Hennessy

    July 24, 2009 at 4:45 pm

  2. There were neither helicopters nor motorboats in Teddy Roosevelt’s Grand Canyon, Matthew, and there were a quarter as many Americans in America.

    Jeff McMahon

    July 25, 2009 at 2:18 pm


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