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Glen Canyon NRA Officials Thinking Of Digging For Water


Dropping levels of Lake Powell are making it harder to get to and from Wahweap Marina. Friends of Lake Powell Photo.

Climate change, both short term or in the long run, can exact changes on the landscape. Native wildlife can vanish, non-native species can arrive, things we have come to know over a lifetime of visits can be transformed, if not made to disappear altogether.

How we react to these changes can have significant impacts, as well as be telling as to our overall stewardship of the land.

At Glen Canyon National Recreation Area the ongoing drought has revealed fascinating canyon-country landscapes that long have been inundated by Lake Powell. Cathedral in the Desert, said to be one of Edward Abbey's favorite haunts, has reappeared, drawing Abbeyites and the curious.

While there have been long-running efforts to drain the lake entirely, they have been staved off and today Lake Powell is one of the Southwest's premier boating areas. But in recent years the regional drought has lowered Lake Powell. While that has opened up some fascinating canyon landscapes that had been under water, the drought also has created some logistical problems for boaters.

For years, you see, boaters have used the so-called "Castle Rock Cut" to shorten a 12-mile trip when heading to and from the Wahweap Marina to such areas as Rainbow Bridge, Padre Bay, and Warm Creek Bay. However, that shortcut is only possible when Lake Powell is at an elevation of 3,620 feet; currently the lake is right around 3,600 feet. Boaters have not been able to use the cut since the 2003 season, and in recent years they've been asking the Park Service to deepen the cut.

So how can this problem be solved? Well, NRA officials are thinking of digging the cut even deeper than it is, a solution last resorted to in 1992 when it was deepened by about 8 feet. Before that, the cut was dug deeper back in the 1970s. The current proposal -- which doesn't yet have a price tag attached -- is to dig another 15 feet deeper along a half-mile-long section of the cut. This slice also would be about 80 feet wide.

But perhaps a more important question that should be considered is, "Should the cut be deepened?" Is this how we should respond to climate change, or long-term drought, by just digging a little deeper? Have we become so omnipotent in our environmental stewardship that we haven't been confronted by a problem we couldn't engineer a solution to?

For now, the Park Service is getting ready to prepare an environmental assessment that will analyze the potential impacts of digging the cut deeper on the area’s natural and cultural resources and the quality of visitors’ experience.

To help the agency prepare that EA, the public is being invited to submit suggestions on how the situation with the Castle Rock Cut can best be addressed and what issues and alternatives the EA should consider. You can forward your thoughts to the Park Service online at this site or by mailing them at Castle Rock Cut EA, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, P.O. Box 1507, Page, AZ, 86040.

Scoping comments must be received by December 4. Once the draft EA is prepared later this winter there will be another public comment period.


A few facts for the uninformed. There are too many boats in that stretch, but until CRC is open, it is the only way to access the rest of the 100+ mile long main channel or the 2000 miles of shoreline. How many of you realize that at full pool, the shoreline of Lake Powell is longer than the entire west coast of the US, from Mexico to Canada. When CRC is open, there is only a short wakeless zone through the cut. Then boats start to disperse into the side canyons. If you look at the photo at the top of this, the cut is through the flat area just to the right of the rock tower in the center of the photo.

A quick tutorial in the art of Creative Financing and the World of Contact Bidding:

With the NPS being the "limiting factor" in the final pricing structure of goods and services being charged within their jurisdiction, and vendor wishing to operate and represent the NPS is obligated to ensure their stockholders that acceptance of new contracts, whether for the NPS, school lunch programs, stadium concessions, airport concessions, etc. will enhance the overall bottom-line, not in any way, shape or form detract from existing profit strutures. While on some few operations, business is accepted (always short-term) at minimal profiteering or even under drastic circumstances, at a marginal loss, those contracts have a direct effect on the pricing charged to the consumer throughout the remainer of the corporate business units. That is why you might see a Target store, for instance, erected and operated in one location with a perpetually "empty" parking lot, designed to service a relatively remote local community, and retain the ability to keep their doors open, versus another Target store some miles distant with check out lines constantly 10 people deep. The "failing" store is supported by the corporate entity for whatever time they are willing to operate that location at an overall loss, as its sales and store profits cannot, on it's own merit, justify keeping the doors open for that "remote" community.

In the case of Aramark, many of you who are posting arguements against my knowledge of business practices and negotiations have all already lent enough evidence to my hypothesis.

For the corporation to successfully win a contract bid process, they must account for ALL the elements that will be under that all-encompassing umbrella entitiled "overhead". For a company (i.e. the contractee) to allow for a percentage of gross or net revenue to be allocated to the contractor, and NOT have a fail-safe built into the corporate cost of business leads to fiscal hemorrhaging and insolvency in the short-term, many times prior to the fulfillment of the contract period. For these reasons, smaller corporations, who do not possess the abilty to "hide", or pass along these costs further down the corporate stream, cannot effectively compete in these bidding wars and are more often than not eliminated from consideration. That again is why the names of these operators changes little as contracts expire and are rebid and renewed.

For a sports analogy, consider how many teams can effectively bid for a commodity such as A-Rod. Of the whole of the available options, the sum total of professional baseball franshises, how many are actually viable candidates to complete the bidding process considering the overall expenditure? MLB supports teams in Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Minnesota, and others through financial stipends resulting from contractual agreements with television and other sponsors. Without the "corporate" powers who can sustain themselves like the Dodgers, Cubs, Yankees, Mets, Braves, and Red Sox, do you really believe the Royals or Pirates would exist? The picture is the same with Aramark. Only by raising profits in other corporate entities can an contractual agreement such as the one at GCNP be allowed to perpetuate. Have baseball ticket prices remained the same since the inception of the $15-20MM dollar player? Neither have concession prices remained intact during these times, and those rates are not "locked in" by the owners, but the base costs are indeed a direct reflection of the food service suppliers and unit operators who support their corporate bottom-line and enable their infrastructure to survive and expand based partially on their contributions to the profit structure.

It was not I who stated that funding was to be collected "off the top" from the corporation. Nor was it I who made mention of how the NPS was to utilize the appropriated funds. Nor does it ultimately matter how or when the monies were collected and what their final disposition might be. those bits of information, factual or otherwise you can credit to RainyRoad. Incorrrectly stated by same is this ridiculous notion that only Lake Powell users are subjected to the "tax" from which the funds were to be drawn. It comes from the corporate entity and ALL Aramark customers across the corporation, from a pack of gum at the airport to a pack of peanuts at a ball game, and from the cost of milk at school lunches to watercraft rentals at the Lake.

I proposed no additional laws regarding operations, just enforcement of existing common-sense vehicular operating techniques. Or maybe inadvertently I did suggest "new" laws regarding alcohol consumption, but they are not new where I reside. Due to the many annual collisions, damage, personal injuries and deaths on our local waterways, we already have said laws on our books, as would and civilized locale, in order to properly deal with criminal vehicular activity.

And you're absolutely correct, I'm not stupid enough to join the masses on the lake during the holiday periods. Lake Powell is over-crowded, just as is Lake Mead, many major inland riverways, the California coast, the Florida Keys, the costal Gulf of Mexico, the Bays of Maryland and Virginia, and the Intercoastal Waterway of the Carolinas during prime season. Renting a "blue top" and converting me? Not a chance. That's akin to suggesting that I'd approve of having my local fuel costs adjusted to allocate funding for a road project in Juneau. Ain't gonna happen. If it's as dangerous as many claim, and I'm not insinuating that it isn't, and they insist on "riding the washtub" even in spite of these treacherous conditions, what does infer about judgement?

Again, my apologies for posting Simple Proposals that seem to be out of context (but maybe they really aren't?):

Nowadays NPS staff are charged with constantly writing plans and reports. Years ago we had to write plans and reports, but the number and complexity of these tasks seems to have mushroomed over past decades. Some staff seem to be doing nothing but writing plans and reports.

Certain folks are so busy writing plans and reports (along with attending meetings, implementing initiatives, and reacting to other bureaucratic processes and procedures), that time doesn't allow for anyone to actually read the countless plans and reports that are produced. These documents typically sit on shelves, gathering dust and slowly yellowing with age. But, unlike aging works of art, these black holes of information don't gain value over time.

Try a little test. Next time you're at a meeting, ask if anyone has recently read a plan or report which might serve as a guideline relevant to the discussion. I've been making a habit of this recently. It's amazing how many people who are eager to write plans and reports never refer to them later!

Yes, I know. Some will argue that these documents are essential, since they help highers-up to formulate budgets. But why do these processes seem to grow more time consuming, but less valuable, with each passing decade? Fifty years ago Chiefs of Interpretation, for example, actually had time to write reports on the wildlife they were personally observing in their parks. did THEY get any money?

Whatever you do, don't waste valuable time and tax dollars on plans and reports. Give them the minimal attention they command, and move on to those things that directly connect caring visitors to our fantastic national parks.

Simple Proposal #13: Plan for fewer reports...and Report on fewer plans

Sounds like there are to many boats.

Lone Hiker must have never been to Lake Powell, or at least not since the CRC became unusable. The hazards in "Maytag Straits" cannot be resolved with more laws. The problem is that it is a narrow channel with sheer rock walls along both sides that do not absorb wakes, but reflect them full strength back into the channel. Couple that with the hundreds of boats that use that channel and the result is like boating in a huge washing machine. The Aramark tour boats leave rollers that are sometimes over 8 feet from crest to trough. Despite his claim of a "few boaters, we counted over 200 oncoming boats in the 12 miles on a weekday in May. Lone Hiker needs to rent a "Blue top", and try it on July 4th weekend. I think that will make a convert of him/her.

Lone Hiker,
There is no siphoning. It's a set percentage of revenue the consessionaire agrees to pay for the right to do business in the NRA. The NPS strictly regulates the fees they may charge for ANY goods or services provided with-in the NRA boundaries. I do agree that Aramark may charge more at other venues. That's probably why a beer costs a minimum $5 at any of the myriad ball parks or concert halls they manage. I believe the whole point of this discussion was monies being diverted from the NPS budget. It is absolutely not.

I've owned a business before. I've worked for Aramark and the NPS. I find you comments about "gullible to a fault" and "the American sucker" highly offensive.


Whether or not funding has been allocated is a non-factor. In order for those funds to have been cyphoned "Off the Top" the have to have been appropriated from some revenue source. If the local fees in the Lake Powell area have remained the same, it is a fact of business that they have been increased elsewhere along the Aramark corporate umbrella. There is absolutely no such thing as a free lunch.

Faith in this manner of corporate pledge is indicative of the effect that marketing and corporate propaganda can have on consumers uneduated in the methods of doing business. I know from personal experience. Our holding company practiced the EXACT same techniques, quite effectively I add with tail between legs. But it works. And those who we were able to manage to control via this shell game were exactly the types of clientele that every American company relies upon.......gullible to a fault, loyal as the day is long. The American Sucker.

As I have witnessed over the years on other forums and blogs, whenever a posting goes contrary to the beliefs of folks over at they head over, join the offending forum / blog and post their values, beliefs etc..
I am not saying this is a bad thing, just that it makes interesting reading on their own bulletin board which one can find at:
National Parks Traveler on the Castle Rock Cut *LINK*
LPYC soliciting lowering CRC comments to NPS *LINK*, which states, "I just received a mass e-mail from Lake Powell Yacht Club soliciting our comments to the NPS comment site below. I added my 2.5 cents there already."
Fresh comments on the NP Traveler site are up., which states, "Forest and Mondofish, among others, have been heard from. Might not hurt for a few more to pile on and smother the green-goofay-eggheads with ,,,,,, OOPS! Sorry. That's hardly PC of me. Pete K."

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