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.


Is this the proper role of the park service? Does cutting through sandstone cliffs so boaters can maintain a short-cut on Lake Powell really constitute fidelity to the Organic Act?

The main problem is that Congress saddled the agency with this boondoggle of a water project in the first place. In most respects Lake Powell is a contradiction as a national park area in almost every way imaginable. For starters it has always seemed absurd to me that the NPS forbids visitors to tamper with cultural sites, when in fact the construction of the lake itself wiped out more Native American relics, rock art and cliff dwellings than a whole army of pot hunters could've ever achieved in a comparable time frame. It could actually be argued that at least the pot hunters preserve whatever relics they find, whereas the waters of Lake Powell have simply wiped them from the face of the earth for all eternity.

Whenever I look out across the inundated depths of Glen Canyon from Wahweep Marina and listen to the roar of personal watercraft, speed boats and touring vessels the last thing I think of is a national park. The Bureau of Wreck wrought this abomination upon the land, I say let them deal with running it as a water park. The NPS has no business operating a boaters theme park, much less cutting deeper canyons for their convenience and ease.


Good points all. Frankly, I think the region with its fantastic canyon country and ancient history would better qualify as an NPS unit if the lake didn't exist. I wonder if the NPS could swap Glen Canyon NRA for the BLM's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which really should be an NPS unit.

Some of the northern (non-water) sections which border Capitol Reef N.P. along the Hole-In-the-Rock Rd. corridor could be transferred to that park and other areas could be reconfigured into smaller sub-units that pertain to their own individual characteristics and unique geology and/or cultural significance. Some could possibly exist as Utah and Arizona state park land or be managed under Navajo tribal authority.

There's a whole world of possibilities once we begin to hike away from the shimmering surface of that now buried canyon.

Wouldn't that be true for all National Recreation Areas? Are they really fit to be units of the National Park Service? shouldn't they be swapped with the BLM against their National Monuments?

Some of my NPS coworkers and I never understood why National Wreck Areas are included in the system. Some, such as Whiskeytown and Lake Roosevelt, seem more suited to the USFS's multiple use mandate rather than the NPS's preservation slant.

Additionally, NRAs cost the NPS about $110 million in 2007 just to operate. That's money that could go toward operating the "crown jewels" like Yosemite or Yellowstone or working on the "maintenance backlog". I'd like to see NRAs transferred to other agencies (I understand they might have similar funding problems, but the use and mandate would match at least) or have NRA users (the boaters, the jetskiers, bikers, etc.) pay the bulk of the operating costs in user fees.

Oh, and restore Glen Canyon! Long live Abbey!

Not to mention how the presence of that much water in the middle of the desert has drastically changed the ecosystem. I agree this shouldn't be the Park Service's problem. Reservoir management and sport hunting management should be the responsibility of some organization other than NPS.

Kurt & MRC----these are the types of creative ideas and solutions that I've been in favor of for a long time now. Even though I am of the opinion that much more serious surgery needs to be done to the actual structure of the agency, it doesn't hurt to begin a process of stepping back and looking at ways of rearranging existing resources to better serve the public and the lands under administration.

When I was a ranger this type of talk was generally taboo because any reduction in lands under the NPS was seen as a threat to the existing order. I remember a conversation I had with a supervisor (division chief) who had worked at Glen Canyon before coming to my park. When I asked him what he thought of working at a boat ramp park he said that although he personally thought it was probably not an appropriate national park it was not for any of us to judge or publicly comment on. He also said that it had provided him with a job and a chance for promotion and that it was not for rangers to question the validity of a given park but only to administer whatever Congress saw fit to put under our purview. Since he was my boss I never brought it up again.

It would be nice if managers in the NPS would, from time to time, dare to be honest about their role as stewards and what is an appropriate parcel of territory to administer and what is not.

I wonder if the rangers in the soon to be created historic waterfall park in Patterson, NJ will be able to tell the public that their agency didn't think that it was a suitable site for inclusion. After all it is a piece of history that pertains to the site. I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts that it won't be mentioned in any museum display or park handout. As always, political expediency and career survival are the #1 goals of a life spent working for the NPS.

The NPS "preservation slant" is only how some interpret the Organic Act. I could argue that the NPS should have a "provide for the enjoyment slant."

In fact, I can't find the word preservation in the Organic Act. Though I do find words such as "conserve" and "promote the use of."

Devil's advocacy aside, the NPS seems to have much more urgent problems than to spend precious funds "planning to plan" in order to open a channel up to boaters.

I can't find the word preservation in the Organic Act. Though I do find words such as "conserve" and "promote the use of."

That's because from the draft to the official act, the word "preserve" was changed to "conserve", a largely rhetorical change. The act also mandates leaving parks "unimpaired" without any details of what "unimpaired" looks like.

The Organic Act has failed on many accounts; it was not based on science or research; it was bent to satisfy the demands of the railroad and burgeoning tourism industry.

The problems of today's NPS result directly from its past. Preservation was the core reason for establishment, but it wasn't interpreted as environmental protection.

It's time for a major revision or a new charter that mandates environmental protection, that uses the term "preservation" rather than "conservation", is based on scientific research, and provides environmental protection.

National Recreation Areas need not apply for membership.

I say, parks are for enjoyment not preservation. I say, conservation is exactly the right word. I say, "wilderness" is wilderness; a park should be just that "a park." I say, science and research are also institutions which have a history of being "antiquated, fundamentally flawed, and needs constant revision."

I say, we can define "unimpaired" until the glaciers return but it still won't resolve these issues.

I say, providing for human enjoyment is a profound and beautiful mandate. And if protecting the environment also provides for human enjoyment, it is even the more sublime.

Below I've reposted my earlier comments on this Organic Act matter.

"Frank and I have disagreed on this before.

But I still insist that the Organic Act has not failed. Yes, it is a paradox to conserve, promote the use of, and provide enjoyment for while leaving unimpaired. Yes, in order to fulfill such a mandate requires leaders possessing intellect, insight, and courage that the current NPS may not have or nuture. Yes, the NPS fails in small and not so small ways every day. But, all in all, the NPS has suceeded in its mandate by keeping the parks unimpaired enough to continue to provide for the enjoyment of billions of people over the last 150+ years. I don't buy into this doom and gloom scenario.

The Organic Act is not "antiquated, fundamentally flawed, and needs extensive revision" any more than the Constitution of the United States is "antiquated, fundamentally flawed, and needs extensive revision."

Hell, if anything's antiquated, it's evoking Edward Abbey. "

science and research are also institutions which have a history of being "antiquated, fundamentally flawed, and needs constant revision

Are you just attempting to throw off my blood sugar Haunted Hiker?

I'll agree with your final premise, that science, ALL diciplines of the sciences, are subject to a constant state of revision. That's what good science is, hypothesis continually being subjected to experimental review, and modifications to current "conventional wisdom" mind-sets due to evidence collected by good design, execution and analysis. Science is subject to an ongoing, evolving process, and is the sum of knowledge gained through the course of mankind's thinking abount, reacting to, and exploring his environment. Due to the data collected by a series of good scientific practices, we now know that a) the world isn't really flat after all, b) the Earth really isn't the center of the known universe, c) you can't kill microorganisms by freezing them, at any temperature, for any length of time, d) life doesn't "spontaneously generate", e) certain chemical reactions give off heat which can be harnessed for multiple purposes, while others require an influx of energy to initiate an reaction, f) the controlled splitting of an atom releases copious amounts of raw energy, get the point I'm sure. But the claim that these institutions have a history of being antiquated and fundamentally flawed, well, you've got the burden of proof on your side if you intend to make those accusations stick. Antiquated indeed.......absolutely NOTHING in our lifetimes has advanced faster than the quality of our lives derived directly from the knowledge brought forth by the sciences except our ignorance of the environment and our general arrogance as a species. Common, everyday mundane items such as microwaves, freezers, radio, CD/DVD's, analog and digital recording devices, computers, automobiles, healthier crops and a wider variety of them, synthetic clothing materials, plastic, rubber, steel, glass, procelain, air conditioning, jet and space travel, the advances to mankind's life directly accountable to the various sciences is almost endless. Not that all of these advances qualify as good......plastics are a blight on the environment, but without them, the cost of protecting and transporting goods would literally skyrocket. Microwaves are a truly useless innovation, originally intended solely as a method by which to rapidly increase the rate of motion in water molecules. Synthetic fibers are tear and wear resistant, color fast, but highly flammable and not really cost effective, but it saves the environment from the stresses of producing cotton. Automobiles? Don't even go there. Aviation brought the world closer together, so now we can fight about trivial things at incredible rates. But to write off the sciences as ANTIQUATED is absurd.

One can "say" lots of things, but what you've said isn't backed up by the history of the Organic Act, the history of national parks, the history of the NPS. It's pure pontification. (For more on the history of the above, please see Sellars' Preserving Nature in the National Parks.)

Also, research is not an institution; it's a process or a product. While I think about it, science itself isn't an institution; it is a systematic process for determining what is knowledge and what is not. Lone Hiker has done enough to show the absurdity of such assertions.

Finally, Abbey's ideas are anything but antiquated (i.e. obsolete); were they antiquated, national parks wouldn't be limiting auto traffic in places like Zion. No, I'd say that Abbey's ideas are highly relevant today more than ever.

Thanks HH for engaging me; I hope you see that I'm attacking your ideas and your assertions, not you personally. I think you're grrrreat!

Moving some dirt and rocks around the bottom of the lake is not such a big deal. Doing so will save it's total cost probably in the first year. When the drought ends, (which it can in a single year), it's all covered with water anyway. Safety is also a major concern and such is a major concern for the NRA managers, the NPS. Dredging this small cut will wave lives, property, trauma, lawsuits and peoples investments in THEIR chosen method of recreating.

As to the issues about NP's vs. NRA's and their joint management by the NPS. Well quite frankly a National Recreation Area is NOT a National Park! They should have very different management goals and the personel staffed at Rec areas should have a different mindset than what the NPS system provides. I think the Dept of Interior should create another division specifically aimed at managing rec areas and staffed with like minded people as well. They are different and require a different point of view in their management. (Yeah I said that twice)!

For you science and history lovers, May I recommend reading "Forbidden History" by J. Douglas Kenyon.

I agree with RRR's comments concerning safety, and economics ( saving money, time, and lives). There are more people using Lake Powell, on a yearly basis than all the wilderness areas of the whole west combined! I wish they would build more dam's up and down the Colorado River, not only for the recreational value, but for power generation that is clean and renewable. It would allow the dismantling of many filthy coal fired generating plants. As for the humpback chub, I say let them go the way of the carrier pigeon, and doddo bird. None of us will miss them.

There are arguments on both sides of this fence...but one thing cannot be ignored by either side. The proposed Castle Rock Cut would SAVE LIVES!! That is one point that cannot be argued or ignored in all of this. Lives are lost each year by boaters having to navigate the "Narrows" at Lake Powell. Opening the cut would alleviate this problem. Not to mention enhancing the efforts of rescue operations at the lake. You cannot put a pricetag on human life.

Whoa there Lone Hiker, I sure didn't mean to send you into Diabetic Ketoacidosis! But I sure love to get a man's blood boiling.

Read carefully, I said science has a "history" of being "flawed." My point being that it doesn't provide all the answers and many of its conclusions become obsolete. I would never write off science, but I wouldn't but all my eggs in its basket either.

Besides, weren't you the one who brought up the very lovely point that art and aesthetics can play a role in planning that, at times, can rival the practicality of scientific facts?

I have doubts that science is capable a defining "unimpaired" because there really is no such thing. It's a human idea more than it is a quantifiable goal.

Sorry Frank, I love you too. But even if Edward Abbey's ideas aren't antiquated, quoting him to make a point about preserving the environment is.

Kurt, an interview with the management at Chickasaw would be a good perspective to have here regarding the Rec Area vs. Park Service issue, and whether these areas really belong under NPS. They seem to have perennial problems with rowdiness, litter, boozefests, weapons, and the like, and I'd wager that it's a common thread among other Nat'l Rec Areas too.

Science, history or RA management alternative issues may make for interesting conversation but dance around the issue of shoving accumulated silt out of a previously excavated channel. Which is all we are really talking about here. There are no sandstone cliffs involved. Only a salt cedar infested silt flat. Take another look at the photo at the page-head. And when one considers that this clean-out operation has already been performed in the past and the resulting channel has been historically flooded more often than not, it is truly amazing that the time and money expenditure for an EA is even required. As for the pros and cons of the proposal, the benefits are obvious to anyone familiar with the lower end of Lake Powell. If all other advantages are set aside, the annual savings in fuel consumed and exhaust gasses released by diesel powered tour boats and freight carrying commercial craft, gasoline powered NPS vessels, and recreational boaters, with up lake trips totalling numbers in the millions each year, should provide reason enough for supporting the proposal. To oppose the work would suggest the support of some alternative agenda beyond the facts on the ground.

Hey HH-

Glad I could be of service. But let's say it was more of a heavy simmer than a rolling boil. I'll try harder next time.

Many scientific conclusions, as well as the ever popular public opinions, are apt to be drawn from flawed information. That's why, as mentioned by your's truly in post after post, I'm a BIG proponent of "good science", which lends itself to a far lesser degree of misinterpretation of data than do bad data and general opinion, but still ain't perfect by any means. Science is not now, nor ever was a source of perfection, in no small part due to the fact that we're constantly dealing with a state of flux in our knowledge base. As techniques and tools develop to assist in collection of additional volumes and more accurate evidence, hypothesis have to be amended, and that is a good thing. It goes a long way towards lending "street cred" to our field, showing our ability and willingness to admit errors were made that were based on previous sampling, but that these previous conclusions were the best we could do at the time, based on the evidence that was available at the time. Now, as access to better methodology evolves, we readily (and sheepishly) admit our past ineptitude, and take a stand behind the new, cleaner, more substantial body of evidence. That new stance will remain, until the next generation of technology and enlightenment bring us to the next intellectual level and we are able to scale the next mountain. All science is capable of is the best it can do at any given time with what it has to work with, just like every other facet of our society. I don't think that makes us evil-doers, or the products of a "flawed" system. If we are to be labeled as such, then every other aspect of our character is likely equivilently flawed as well. I seem to recall a story about a certain group of people about 2000 years ago, who killed someone in a rather barbaric manner, and almost immediately upon achieving their goal, some say, realized their mistake, and all anyone could say was "oops". In the current scientific climate we try and limit the "oops" factor to the best of our ability, but there are still folks out there who have a notion that publicity is more desireable than accuracy, and run off at the mouth long before enough evidence is gathered to render a competent verdict.

I'm not one to utilize a sole source of information to formulate my stance on any issue either. Science is nothing other than one arrow in the quiver. Limited scope produces limited and fundamentally skewed results. I'm in the discovery business, and we can't afford the "blinders on" view of the world.

By the by, I don't think it was I who endeavored to resolve the term "unimpaired" for you. I can list the "official" Funk & Wagnalls for you, and I have my own addendum to their terminology based on the focal point of the discussion, but I'm fairly sure I'm innocent of all charges on that topic. But you're right, even our path to the stars isn't unimpaired, what with all those little nuisances orbiting the globe these days. In a purist sense, they qualify as "annoyances" since you'd have to schedule departure so as to avoid them, so your point is well taken.

Next time I promise to really make your day and allow myself to achieve full-blown case of "The Bends"!!

HH: So if quoting Ed on preservation is antiquated, then quoting Thoreau or Muir on the same subject must be antediluvian! Quick! Someone tell that to the Sierra Club, which has this quote on its website: "The wrongs done to trees, wrongs of every sort, are done in the darkness of ignorance and unbelief, for when the light comes, the heart of the people is always right." Anyway, this is clearly a diversion from the larger issue that you have not addressed with anything other than pontification (the Organic Act has failed to leave national parks unimpaired). It would be like me criticizing you for ending a sentence in a linking verb instead of focusing on the real issue. ;)

May I offer another person that should be banned from the national park quotation lexicon: Freeman Tilden! His sappy blather has guided the interpretive process in the NPS for well over a half century and it's high time that the agency stepped out of its darkened shadow. I offer a couple gems from this supposed genius:

"The true interpreter...goes beyond the apparent to the real, beyond a part to the whole, beyond a truth to a more important truth."

"I have always thought of our Service as an institution, more than any other bureau, engaged in a field essentially of morality--the aim of man to rise above himself, and to choose the option of quality rather than material superfluity."

Tilden's work has not only faded into a quaint anachronism, but has mired the field of interpretation in its murky syrup for way too long. If Abbey goes-----I say Tilden too!

Haunted Hiker said: Devil's advocacy aside, the NPS seems to have much more urgent problems than to spend precious funds "planning to plan" in order to open a channel up to boaters."

As long as the process dictates that the NPS perform an EA to undertake what is specifically removing a couple of feet of silt and rock from the now dry lake floor, then so be it. The Castle Rock Cut widening project is a win for the environment (less gas and carbon generated by boaters) and safety (shaves at least an hour off first responder times). The NPS process has been perverted by environmentalist to slow down (aka preserve) the status quo at NRAs. In the case of Lake Powell, the Castle Rock Cut issue gives them hope that if the drainers stop this project, they can eventually get the Glen Canyon Dam removed. Pipe dream of the Abbey followers for a long time. It is time they get a clue, boaters have rights to the NRA they recreate in and we are going to make sure our requirements for safe/quick passage are recognized by the NPS in what should be a trivial administrative process to get the CRC open to boaters at 3600’

I fail to see why anyone would be against this project. It's a win for "Environmentalists" in fuel savings and reduction of exhaust emissions. It's a win for boaters and fishermen. It's a win for the NPS and the over all safety of those using the area in greatly improved response time to emergency and potentially life-threatening situations. What's not to like?

All we're really talking about here is the removal of some silt accumulation from a channel that has been deepened twice in the last 30 years. No virgin sandstone deposits are being threatened and there is no impact on either the paleontology, geology, or historical sites of the GCNRA. I say, "Git 'ur done!"

The only reason I can think of why anybody would oppose deepening the "CRC", is someone who has never been to Lake Powell. Someone who has never traveled up-lake through the "Maytag Straits" on a busy day in the summer. Someone who has never been hurt or injured (or heard stories about the same) up-lake and waiting that extra emergency response time for medical assistance.

The "CRC" has no cultural or historical significance. It has been deepened twice previously. When (or if) this prolonged drought ends, it will not be seen again. There will be no visible "scar" on the landscape.

The subject of Glen Canyon and Lake Powell is one that draws a very emotional response from a variety of people. If Glen Canyon was exposed all the way to the level of the Colorado River, I would love it. Now that Lake Powell has been filled, I love it far more. Those who would battle to drain Lake Powell simply do not understand that a huge part of the canyon is now available to thousands of people who would otherwise have no access to this national treasure.

Before Lake Powell, one had to be physically fit and probably reasonably young to brave the desert heat and sheer sandstone cliffs in order to see much of the canyon on foot. Now, with at least 3/4 of Glen Canyon still above water, it is all easily available to anyone, regardless of physical condition, age or even serious handicaps, all from the comfort of a boat. That to me makes Lake Powell an asset well worth supporting and even improving. I agree with the poster above who stated: "The only reason I can think of why anybody would oppose deepening the "CRC", is someone who has never been to Lake Powell."


Your second Tilden quote and accompanying commentary have me eager to post Simple Proposal #8...

An insidious transformation has occurred in the NPS. Many of its employees are now obsessed with shaping the worldview of park visitors.

Innocently enough, this started with trying to make visitors better "park stewards." You know, don't throw trash, don't pick wildflowers, don't feed the chipmunks. Fair enough.

But over time, the goals have morphed. Nowadays rangers are often expected to turn park visitors into "global stewards"...obedient soldiers who will march back home to fight the war against environmental destruction. I can see it now...Ethyl & Bill Dokes, retired grocery store checkers from Rapid City, roaring home in their RV while torching every billboard they see along the way.

Don't get me wrong. I'm very much against environmental destruction. I oppose population growth. I donate generously to private, non-profit organizations which acquire and preserve land. I also donate to organizations which fight for legitimate environmental causes. And, like verbose Freeman, I choose quality over material superfluity. Oh...did I mention that I oppose population growth?

But when I write my annual check to the federal government, I want my money spent on providing something in return. Regarding national parks, I want my money spent on maintaining trails, protecting wildlife from poachers, and replacing faded signs. I want my money spent on rangers who can tell me about their park...why it was established, how its ecosystems function, and what cultural treasures it holds. I'm also grateful to being informed about legitimate threats to the parks.

But I'm not happy when the government and its employees cross the line into trying to "shape people's hearts and minds" in a global sense. That role should be left to private interests, who receive their money through voluntary donations.

As I recall, shaping hearts and minds was a primary goal for the Iraqi people pre-invasion.

Simple Proposal #8: Think not what your taxpayer can do for you; Think what you can do for your taxpayer.

Bart, Thanks for sharing another simple, but elegant, Simple Proposal. I agree the NPS should stick to its mandate: preserving areas. "Shaping hearts and minds" can't be found in the 1916 charter.

But when I write my annual check to the federal government . . .

That's interesting. The federal government takes my hard-earned money each pay period before I even get to see, touch, or use it. Guess they figure if I had to write a check every year, I might not write one or I might not pay the full amount. They'd be correct; I'd subtract the percentage that goes toward the illegal invasion of Iraq and send in the rest. Let the people who want to pay for the invasion pay for the invasion, and let the people who want to pay for national parks pay for national parks.

Well said RainyRoads. I agree with you 100%. I am wheel chair bound. Because I can access Lake Powell by boat, I have seen wonders I would have never seen. I even got to see Rainbow Bridge once, when the Lake was Full. I have seen Dino tracks, petrified wood on the shore line from my boat. These things I cherish and am glad to be alive to enjoy them. The Park Service has done a wonderful job to make this park accessible to all. I have a few friends that hike the Lake and show me pictures of the things beyond the shore lines I have enjoyed seeing very much. It was not for Lake Powell I would have not known these friends who have helped me to enjoy the park even more.
But to make your point, Lake Powell part of the park is very small compared to the places people can go that is untouched. Many people use a boat to start there journey to get to these places.
So if digging out the cut makes this park more accessible and safe for ALL, I am ALL FOR IT.

Well said. I forgot to mention that point, boating at Lake Powell opens up GCNRA in so many ways. The bottom line is that getting the CRC open to navigation (assuming that Mother Nature will not cooperate next year) does greatly enhance the Lake Powell experience.

I'm sorry but our Government does not work that way. We are all in this together, our system of taxation does not allow individuals to "opt" out of funding for things they don't like. We have a representative system, we have delegated that power collectively to our Congressional representatives. It is up to them to provide for the stewardship of the park system and provide the funding to support our troops in the field until victory is achieved in the War on Terror.

Playing Devil's Advocate, although I do support opening up the CRC, I can think of a good reason why some people who boat on Lake Powell would be opposed to this project. I assume the GCNRA budget is constant and any funds allocated to deepen the CRC will mean that some park projects will not be completed or commenced. Therefore, uplakers (boaters out of Bullfrog, Halls Crossing or Hite) may get short changed and some of their pet projects will be put on hold for lack of funding. Since I assume this will be a zero sum game and the NPS won't throw additional dollars into GCNRA to execute the CRC project. I do feel uncomfortable with this situation and it is a shame. However, since close to two-thirds of the GCNRA visitors enter from down-lake, I guess that is the way the cookie crumbles. Sorry folks.

Castle Rock Cut in 2008!
San Diego, CA

Read the Constitution and you'll find that only Congress can declare war, and war can only be declared on another country, not an idea or an -ism. Read further and you'll find that the power to take money directly from people's paycheck is nowhere in the Constitution.


In all fairness to the writer, the word "War," as used above and in the expression, "War on terror," is a metaphor similar to "War on Drugs," War on drunk driving," etc. As such, it is commonly used to describe struggles against many things not requiring congressional approval. It was used extensively in the 50's through the 80's by both parties in the "War on Communism" and the ever-popular "Cold war."

As for the Income Tax, the U.S. government has been collecting income taxes since 1862 when Congress enacted the nation's first income tax law to support the Civil War.

The Constitution does indeed give the right to tax income and has done so since the 16th Amendment of 1913:

Amendment 16 - Status of Income Tax Clarified. Ratified 2/3/1913

"The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration."

But regardless of any of that, What are your feelings about the NPS plan to deepen a small shortcut between Wahweap Bay and the rest of Lake Powell? That is the topic, I believe.


I'm new to this site. I discovered it just a few days ago. I did not understand it to be a political forum however. Do you have a position on the proposed Castle Rock Cut at Lake Powell, or do you have some other drum to beat?

Pete K.

Just to be clear the 16th Amendment was never ratified by the required state legislatures, so it is an invalid law. It is theft pure and simple.

"Just to be clear" what Beamis says is not really true. A number of people (Most notably a Mr. Bill Benson) have challenged the validity of the process that took place adding the 16th Amendment to the Constitution. It was however ratified by Congress and as such it remains "The law of the land" until such time as it is removed via the normal legal process. That has not happened and simply because someone or some partisan group says it isn't legal and binding, that doesn't make it true. Definitely NOT so "Pure and simple," rather more like an "Opinion."

Now...can we get back to the topic at hand? That would be the deepening of the Castle Rock Cut on Lake Powell. While some may find discussions on Constitutional law interesting, there are many places on the web to conduct them. This, IMO would not necessarily be one of them. Just my opinion and, being a newbie, I don't want to upset anyone, but I am a frequent user of the Glen Canyon Recreational Area and Lake Powell, so the stated topic is important to me. Thanks!

Abortion is not in the constitution but it is a political, judicial and medical reality across the land. I am pro-choice BTW, just using this issue as an example of the error in your logic of a literal read of the U.S. Constitution.

Even if there is some legal or constitutional procedural ambiguity about the constitutional reality regarding income taxes, doesn't make it any less real. Every pay day a host of governmental entities take their share of my income.

Now back on the topic at hand, the latest buzz is that GCNRA will use funds set aside for park upkeep and maintenance, and the CRC project in my opinion falls under this category. Like I've said before, its a win-win proposal for all parties. Everyone should be writing to the NPS during the public input and urging the NPS to save money by waiving this whole absurd EA process.. Let the bull dozers roll!

Castle Rock Cut in 2008!
San Diego, CA

Conversations are fluid, and I have merely responded to certain elements from other commentors' writing. Conversations, like rivers, meander--but all is ultimately related. As for politics: As long as the NPS is controlled, affected, influnenced, framed by politics, then there are bound to be political discussions on this blog. As for being off topic: If you think I'm off topic, simply ignore my comments--rather than responding to them--and read the topics you find most relevant. Please don't try to control the various threads of the fluid conversation. As for my take on Glenn Canyon, if you read my earlier comments, you'll see that I support restoring the canyon which makes the cut unnecesary.

My many thanks to the NPT editors for providing a place for fluid, rambling, interesting discussion on issues affecting national parks. There's no other place on the web quite like it.

"Wars" on ideologies are never won.

Just a slight clarification; The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is NOT a "Park." It is a "Recreation area," and as such it is run under a very different set of rules. Some will disagree with those rules and others will call for a change to the status of "Park." The most extreme will even lobby for complete restoration to its pre-dam state, but for now, it remains a "Recreation area" and as such it is administered for the recreation and enjoyment of the general public, not according to a biased agenda of a small minority.

We're sorry to interrupt this debate for the following news update:

"Wars" on ideologies are never won.

And are ALWAYS lost. And there never was, or is now, just cause to spend billions of US taxpayer dollars, that could and SHOULD be spent improving our domestic issues, of which there are many, on a "war" that has and had no real point since it's inception. The REAL "war on terror" should have been fought in the mountains of the Pakistan / Afghan region, against an alleged "identified" threat, not in the deserts of Iraq against an idiot and his regime who were then and even lesser now a threat against this country and it's citizens. End that pointless conflict, and you can have all the monies you desire for improving the convenience of a few boaters in Lake Powell. Maybe mandatory boating safety classes and enforcement of boating regulations, along with making consumption of alcohol on US waterways illegal, would be a better usage of everyone's time and funding than additional digging, if the area is as hazardous as many posters have claimed.

The independent voice of political conscience reason is dead in this country. REVIVE IT NOW!

Now, back to the previously scheduled programming.........

Just to be clear: a Constitutional Amendment cannot be passed by Congress. It must be ratified by a two-thirds majority of all the state legislatures across the Republic. That is not my opinion but what is actually written in the Constitution.

The dimly remembered Equal Rights Amendment failed back in the 1980's because it was put up for a vote by the 50 legislatures of the U.S. and was not ratified because it failed to get the needed majority. That's how the amendment process works RainyRoads, contrary to your opinion or what the government says is legal and binding as the law of the land.

The fact that the U.S. government is run by thieving thugs who subvert the Constitution on a regular basis is not news. Calling what is clearly enunciated in this now largely ignored document an opinion does not change the nature of the crime or the criminals.

Reality check:

Those "Few" boaters to which Lone Hiker makes mention actually number in the neighborhood of about 2 million per year. Also, the funding for this project is scheduled to come from a fund collected "Off the top" from Aramark Corp. and represent a percentage of the concessionaire's profits derived from private business activities on and around the lake. In essence, those who use the lake are those who will be paying for the project. What's wrong with that? They have nothing whatsoever to do with Iraq, Afganistan, or any other conflict around the world and would not be increased in the slightest if any of those conflicts were to end tomorrow.

Let's keep it real, folks.

O.K., I'm getting sucked onto a tangent of which I really have little interest, but I would appreciate a simple clarification from Beamis who says,

'The fact that the U.S. government is run by thieving thugs who subvert the Constitution on a regular basis is not news."

That's some statement, Sir/Ma'am, especially when you call it a "Fact." If I follow your logic (?), it appears you are saying that every congress and administration this country has had, at least since 1913, has been corrupt. That would have to be the case according to your POV, since the 16th Amendment became law in that year (Illegally, according to you). If this is indeed the way you think, I would suggest to you that you have a very unfortunate view of the greatest country the world has ever known. Again, just my opinion and I'm new around here.

A great country yes! I agree.

Love of country is NOT love of government.

"The only good bureaucrat is one with a pistol at his head. Put it in his hand and it's good-bye to the Bill of Rights."------H.L. Mencken

O.K....whatever, but you still didn't answer the question. Here, I'll slightly re-phrase it:

In your opinion, has every government this country has had since at least 1913 been corrupt and run by a pack of "Thieving thugs?"

Geez, if what you say is true, you'd sure think that a country as great as ours would have had at least one single Congress in those 97 some years decent enough to abolish that illegal 16th Amendment, now wouldn't you?

For clarification purposes, the studies I've surveyed make mention of 2 million boaters as an annual visitation estimate and does not directly correlate to 2 million vessels traversing the waterway. This I understand with all clarity. But in the "real world" of business, of which I possess extensive experience, any corporation doing business in more than one location bases their fees for products, services, etc. on the sum cost of doing business. The entity in question must account for the sum overhead package, no matter what nature they be, in the base prices that are charged to the consumer. As you all should be aware, the Aramark Corporation is a national service company. For you to believe for one instance that their entire customer base will not feel the sting for this project is simply not realistic. All costs of doing business will be passed throughout the operating network, whether it is an increase in employee health care rates, pay raises, transportation related fees (e.g. fuel rate increases, maintenance costs, building of distribution centers, tax rates on properties), increases costs of raw materials, handling and processing, or the above mentioned "slush fund" designed to benefit a SMALL portion of their service base.

Speaking of keeping it real........


I'm not going to turn this into a libertarian rant, but think your faith in politicians is most certainly misplaced. Congress is not an institution that is widely hailed for its virtues nor is much of what goes on in the city of Washington for that matter.

There are many other violations of the Constitution, way too numerous to mention, that have occurred in the history of the Republic besides the illegal and immoral 16th Amendment. The most currently egregious example of this habitual Constitutional disregard would be the costly and bloody wars being waged in Iraq and Afghanistan without an official declaration from your beloved saviors on Capitol Hill, as is explicitly mandated in the Constitution. Go ahead, read it. I promise you it's all in there.

There is in fact currently one lone member up on the Hill who agrees that the 16th Amendment is unconstitutional as well as many other actions, decrees and levies of the lawless proponents of the Warfare/Welfare state. His name is Ron Paul and he is also running for president as an avowed constitutionalist. You might want to check out his campaign and stated positions. It might be an eye opener.

Being a great country has nothing to do with the government. We've manage to succeed, so far, in spite of it, most certainly not because of it.

Geez, if what you say is true, you'd sure think that a country as great as ours would have had at least one single Congress in those 97 some years decent enough to abolish that illegal 16th Amendment, now wouldn't you?

Tax revenues generated by this Act of Congress are to the Washington bureaucrats what nicotine is to many people.....a craving, an addiction to which they simply aren't willing or able to remove themselves from, no matter what the cost. Once the government began spending this revenue source prior to it actually being in the treasury, we were all done for. Now they simply can't and won't stop, short of a taxpayer revolt. Which isn't really a bad idea. They can't throw us all in jail, and since they don't have the stones to deport illegals, I feel safe as a citizen of this "great nation" in taking a stance against these types of injustices. As citizens, that's our responsibility, our duty. Or, you can choose to be a lamb heading to slaughter. The choice is all OURS.

Most of what the government does to us is on the shady side of unconstitutional, but this discussion is about the CRC. As the GCNRA is a national RECREATION area rather than a national park, recreation is the issue here. The cut has been lowered several times over the years. There are no artifacts that would be involved here. No time and waste of taxpayer dollars for an EA is needed. The safety of the people that pay to use this RECREATION area should be paramount. The savings in fuel, reduction of pollution, and time saved in responding to emergencies uplake demands that CRC must be open at the lowest levels of the lake.

This will be my last comment on the subject, as IMO it's miles off-topic and the topic in question is of far more interest to me. I will however make this final comment.

While Lone Hiker does indeed offer a few interesting ideas, he/she is dead wrong in making this comment:

"For you to believe for one instance that their entire customer base will not feel the sting for this project is simply not realistic."

The money has already been collected! It's part of the requirement for being awarded the concession to do exclusive business in the GCNRA, not an additional cost of doing business to be passed on to their (Aramark) customers in the form of higher prices, lower wages, reduced level of service, or anything else. The funds have already been collected and are discretionary, to be used by the NPS for any project benefiting those who use the GCNRA. That would be mostly boaters and fishermen like me!

Trying to keep it real. Enough said, at least by me.

I'm not able to follow this. NPS will pay for the project. Not Aramark. True, NPS will utilize revenue generated by concession operations to pay for it. So Aramark funds it indirectly. But since the NPS skim off the top of Aramark's operation is the same whether the cut goes forward or not, how does it affect Aramark's bottom line? The "SUM" cost of their overhead package remains X whether NPS spends the money on other infrastructure maintenance, repair or upgrade, or, whether or not they spend it on the Castle Rock project, right?

Pete K.

Yes Pete, that is correct. The "SUM" cost of their (Aramark's) overhead package remains the same, so not only Aramark, but even those who actually USE Lake Powell, will be the one's indirectly paying for the project.
As has already been said, "What's not to like?" Even Libertarians should approve of this one!