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April - June 2011

Woods at NAU

Atlas Annoyed

Good Copter, Bad Copter

A Quiet Mt. Humphreys?

Wilderness Bull

Backcountry Plan 2¢

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

   Woods at NAUI first encountered the work of Tom Woods when I read about the "Great Depression of 1921."  [Or, watch the excellent video posted up on YouTube, or read Bob Murphy's account in the Freeman.]  I liked it so much, I used some of this material as part of my annual contribution to the Economic Outlook Conference, organized by the business college at Northern Arizona University (NAU).

     Then, I fell into the Mises Academy, an on-line series of courses with an Austrian bent.  Although I had heard of its most famous member - F. A. Hayek - I knew next to nothing of this school of economic thought.  Over the late spring, summer and fall of 2010, I signed on for six of their courses.  One of the first was a course on the Great Depression, taught by Tom Woods.  I had been using some material on this subject in my money and banking classes for a couple of years (The Forgotten Man and Rethinking the Great Depression).  So, this was an excellent opportunity to add to my knowledge and to learn more of the Austrian perspective.  During the course, the topic of "nullification" came up, as Woods had just published a book on that subject.  He was also going to be teaching a class on the subject, so I decided to enroll in that one as well.

     It was a great class.  It is really a history class, which is Woods' expertise, and it is difficult for me to branch out beyond economics, especially in the middle of a school semester, but it was fascinating.  In the late fall of 2010, he spoke at Grand Canyon University, in Phoenix, and I drove down to see his presentation.

     Ever since then, I had thought about getting him to speak at NAU.  But, my enthusiasm waned a bit as the months rolled by and my attention was diverted to other matters.  Then, an Arizona state senator proposed that a committee be formed, in the legislature, that would consider whether certain federal laws should be nullified (which would then go to a vote before the legislature).  And, editorials popped up, along with misinformed letters.  So, I was re-energized, decided to strike while the iron was hot, and made arrangements for Tom to speak at NAU.

     So, on April 6th, he came to town.  Before the talk, I arranged to host him for dinner with some of the students in the NAU Conservatives (which I serve as the faculty advisor) and my new public choice class.  Pictured above (click to see a bigger image), clockwise from my empty seat, are Jacob, Shantell, Tom Woods, John, Beth, Christian, Carolina, Meagan, Rachael and Dustin.  It was a great time and I am sure that all of my students enjoyed this opportunity to meet with, and talk to, Tom Woods.  [They also liked the fact that I was subsidizing their meal!]

     The event was great.  About 175 people were in attendance.  I was hoping for more, but that's a good crowd.  Bob at Reclaim Liberty has posted a podcast of the speech!  Elisha at the Flagstaff Liberty Alliance was active in drumming up support and even staged a rally out in front of city hall!  And, the local paper featured a very positive story on the event, on the front page!  There were also a lot of letters and most were positive, which surprised me a bit.  Overall it was a great time, but it did wear me out with the logistics and arrangements.  I think I will content myself to being a follower while I restore balance to my life!

Related blog:  Nullification, AZ

Wednesday, May 5, 2011

   Atlas Annoyed - I don't know if it is some kind of cosmic joke.  If it is, I just don't get it.  I have seen Atlas Shrugged twice and been sorely disappointed both times.  Not by the content, but by the presentation.  I saw it in Phoenix and couldn't believe that the movie could be so dark.  Not in a figurative manner, but really hard to see.  It was like taking a picture at dusk with your flash turned off.  The outdoor shots were OK, but all of the interior scenes were just hard to see.  I pored over the reviews on the web and came to the conclusion that it wasn't the film, since nobody else commented on that.  Instead, I figured, it must have been the movie theater.  Seeing as how there was only the one place showing this movie in all of Arizona, it seems like a shame.

     So, I was prepared to wait until the DVD comes out and then see a well-renditioned copy of the film.  But, then, a local entrepreneur managed to make arrangements for the film to come to Flagstaff for a single showing.  I went, hoping to get a better presentation, but, alas, I am starting to shrug something fierce.  I can't say that it was too dark, but being in the second row may have something to do with my perceptions.  But, it was not sharp and clear.  All of the wide shots were made up of fuzzy little objects.  The drive to Wisconsin looked like a silver smudge moving across the screen.  The close ups of the actors were fine, as the distorting effects were minimized as a consequence.  But, everything else was blurred.

     And, then there was this distracting effect of cutting off the tops of people's heads.  In at least a half dozen scenes, there is a speaking character whose head, above the nose, is completely off screen.  Yikes!  Is this just a bad joke?  I sure hope it isn't some kind of artsy-fartsy attempt to make a statement.  If so, it doesn't work.  And, I really don't believe that was the intent.

     What am I to conclude?  Well, even though there were only 300 copies of the film distributed for theatrical release, I must have seen a bad copy.  I am quite sure that the one I saw in Flagstaff must be the same one shown in Tempe.  And, the theaters compound the problem with poor projection equipment and lax oversight with regard to the quality of the product.  This isn't the first time that has happened, but I couldn't be more aware of the seeming irony given that this film is about how smart and driven people, who make our lives better in a thousand different ways, are constantly being degraded and torn down by shallow and incompetent fools.  Apparently, these shallow and incompetent fools are responsible for producing, distributing and showing this movie.  We have seen the enemy and he is . . . pretending to be one of us!

     On the other hand, this morning I watched a movie I had recorded on my DVR.  It was called, "Hunter Prey," came out just last year (I had never heard of it) and was being shown in high def on Showtime.  With a budget only 3% as large as Atlas, it was crystal clear, easy to hear and light years better than what I had just seen on the big screen.  And, at 53 inches, watching on my TV is a very acceptable alternative to the big screen at the theater.  Maybe it is just time for me to totally give up on "going to the movies."  Granted there is the socialization element, and the sound, but there is so much quality variation that I am just not sure it is worth it.  Better to wait a few months and watch a really good copy of the film.  Maybe it is time for me to return my Harkins loyalty cup!

     I think that a well-lit, well-framed copy of Atlas Shrugged (Part I) will be great to have and to watch.  The theatrical version was a total blow out.  If they really do Parts II and III, I am pretty sure I'll wait for the DVDs.  But, after watching a second time, I do have one other complaint about the film - Dagny Taggart's heels were too tall.  It took me a while to realize that her clunky style of walking was due to this fact.  But, there is a scene where we get a close up view of the heels (did I mention that I was in the second row?) and they must have been 6 inches.  Maybe the intent was to make her real tall and tower above everyone else.  Maybe.  But, it really is just impractical for her, and not at all consistent with how I remember her character from the book.  More suitable for going out clubbing than for a crisis manager.  Is this really any way to run a railroad?

Friday, May 13, 2011

   Good Copter, Bad Copter - The National Park Service has released an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) with regard to overflights at the Grand Canyon.  This process has been going on for years, and I wrote a blog, Noisy Grand Canyon?, in 2006 in response to their original scoping session.  I also wrote an editorial during one of my stints with the local paper on natural quiet, which is the driving force behind this effort to restrict overflights.  The EIS release was accompanied by some open houses on the topic, and, as usual, Flagstaff was included.  So, I went.  At the time I was wrapping up a hiking story for the paper and asked the editor if he would like an editorial on this overflight issue.  He was interested and, in fact, had already received an editorial blasting the park service's proposal as being woefully insufficient.  It took a few weeks to get this one done, due to the crush of my other obligations, but with a comment period open until June, it wasn't necessary to rush.  I submitted it in early May and it ran, side-by-side with the other editorial, on Wednesday, May 11:

Flights promote access, diversity
by Dennis Foster

The National Park Service is currently considering new overflight rules for Grand Canyon. In general, the proposals are intended to constrain and regulate the air tour industry in ways that will do little to improve and enhance the experience of visitors to this scenic place.

Indeed, considering the wide array of human interactions with the Grand Canyon, you would be hard-pressed to find any activity that has less of an environmental impact than do these overflights. Less than the visitors to the rim, the hikers below the rim or the boaters on the river. And, certainly less than the NPS helicopters that fly below the rim, whose impacts are excluded from this proposal.

However, the Park Service has been charged by Congress to restore "natural quiet" to most of the Grand Canyon. Exactly what this means is contentious. It doesn't necessarily mean quiet as you and I would understand it. And, while I would consider humans as part of nature, that's not what they mean, either. Suffice to say it really boils down to competition among various special interests and how they want to control the Grand Canyon experience.

Among those special interests are my brothers and sisters in the backpacking community. You may be surprised to learn that they are a selfish and greedy lot, who would like to have the Grand Canyon all to themselves, without the inconvenience of other people intruding on "their" special place. It would be a huge mistake to assume that they have some singular insight about the canyon. If that was true, then my 30-plus years of hiking the canyon would give me more influence than I have, assuming I have any. I do more than tolerate the fact that other people will want to experience the canyon in ways different from me; I embrace this diversity of experiences, and consider them all equally valuable to the human condition.

I do not envy the balancing act that the Park Service has to maintain. I agree with much of what they have already done - no air tours over the corridor area, nor over the developed areas of the rims, nor at the beginning and end of the day. There should be separation as well as accommodation.

But, their current proposal goes too far. They want to create seasonal shifts in the two overflight corridors, closing each for half the year. And, they want to expand the daily curfews to 15 hours a day, in the summer, and 17 hours a day, in the winter.

These particular restrictions will have the effect of increasing the congestion along the overflight corridors, potentially doubling the traffic on those routes when they are open. When I quizzed an official at the open house about this point, they seemed surprised by this simple math.

Further, the imposition of a daily cap and the raising of the minimum elevation level in the flight-free zones appear to be solutions in search of a problem, and without any but the most arbitrary of reasoning.

More troubling is the bureaucratic mandate of so-called "quiet technology" within 10 years. Wouldn't it be nice if the government could just wave a magic wand and make aircraft quiet? I don't know anyone who is opposed to such technology, but the question is always going to be one of costs and whether the tradeoffs make it a worthwhile proposition. I am content to let the market determine the extent and pace of the introduction of such technology, rather than some bureaucracy.

In the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, Alternative A is identified as the "No Action" alternative. That is a bit of a misnomer, as it leads to "substantial restoration of natural quiet ... over ... 53 percent of the park." That meets the Congressional mandate and should be acceptable to everyone until we revisit the issue again in 2021.

Dennis Foster has a Ph.D. in economics, has hiked the Grand Canyon since 1977, has testified before a congressional committee on Grand Canyon management issues and has taken two helicopter tours of the Canyon.

     I think that my commentary speaks for itself and doesn't need any elaboration.  The other editorial, by Deanna Wulff, really seemed to make my point.  She was all about banning helicopters because they intrude on her ability to enjoy solitude in the canyon.  Her tone and opinion didn't surprise me, but I will make a few comments nonetheless:

Solitude at night.  She relates her experience of being ill-prepared for her first hike in the canyon and spending a night "under the gentle moonlight" in "quiet solitude."  OK, I get it.  And, I have lots of cool experiences with the quiet that fills up the space at night.  But, that isn't going to change.  There are no overflights (of the touring variety) allowed from one hour before sunset to one hour after sunrise.  [The current EIS wants to push that to a couple of hours.]

The entitlement problem.  She writes that she "moved to Flagstaff, so I could hike in the Grand Canyon . . . Unfortunately, I discovered the assault of a flyover zone."  So, we can establish that these overflights came before Ms. Wulff arrived, yet she seems quiet comfortable imposing her view of what is acceptable, and unacceptable.  Although I have labeled this the "entitlement problem," perhaps I should have labeled it the "arrogance problem."

The flyover zone.  The uninformed reader will probably think that helicopters fly over the entire canyon all the time.  Of course, they don't.  They have two specific flyover zones and Ms. Wulff doesn't acknowledge that one can seek out fantastic hiking opportunities elsewhere in the canyon out of earshot of these helicopters.  But, not necessarily out of earshot of all helicopters.  Pictured to the right is a park service helicopter flying way outside of these zones which we encountered on our recent hike through "the gems."  It was searching for an ultralight vehicle and its pilot that went missing a couple of days before our hike began.  We saw it fly up and down the canyon once, or twice, each of the first three days of our hike.  [Go see a map of the areas searched by air!]  This kind of noise is not included in the EIS.  At the open house I attended, an official told me, "It is a matter of health and safety."  Well, I can't argue with that, having been the recipient of just such a health and safety visit.  But, I think it is disingenuous to restrict the "noise" of the commercial overflights when there is noise from these NPS flights.

The world is full of noise.  Well, sure, but she infers that there is no quiet anywhere.  Quite absurd.  Here in Flagstaff, a short drive can take you to innumerable quiet locales.  And, with great scenery to boot.  And, that is true even in the big city.  I used to live in Honolulu.  On the weekends I would hike up the Manoa Falls trail and it didn't take long to feel like you were light years from civilization.  That has been true pretty much anywhere I have lived.  Ms. Wulff's characterization is just exaggerated ranting and raving.

The wishes of the one versus many.  You couldn't find a more apt example of the desires of the few (hikers) trying to overwhelm the desires of the many (tourists).  Yet, Ms. Wulff asks, "Should an individual have the right to fly over the Grand Canyon at the detriment to everyone else?"  She has the question phrased backwards.  It should be, does she have the right to an absolutely quiet Grand Canyon to the detriment of the thousands that also want to see its majesty and beauty?  Apparently, the answer is, "Yes."

An arrogant philosophy.  She ends by claiming that, "[t]he park should be approached with reverence."  Says who?  Says her, and others of her ilk.  And, does that make her right?  No, it only makes her arrogant.  She can enjoy the park in solitude if she is willing to work at it.  She is being accommodated by the current rules imposed on overflights.  But, that just doesn't seem to be enough for her.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

   A Quiet Mt. Humphreys? - This past weekend, hiking buddy John Eastwood, his new dog, Buddy, and I took a trek up Mt. Humphreys, the highest point in Arizona (12,600+ feet).  We could see snow on the peaks, but thought we'd make it to the top without much trouble.  I did bring along a pair of Kahtoolas, and, in retrospect, John should have as well.  We mostly encountered snow along the shady, northerly-facing part of the trail that winds its way through the forest.  There, we were often trekking across packed snow that was 3 to 4 feet above the trail.  It was cold, and everything was quite solid on the way up.  We left the lower parking area at the Snowbowl Ski Area at 7:45 a.m. and headed up alongside the chair lift, until we reached a road.  From there, we followed a ridge up until we met the trail.  So, we cut off some snowy sections, but we still had quite a bit to cover before popping out onto a southerly-facing section that then climbs above the tree line and to a saddle, between Humphreys and Agassiz, where there is a good resting spot out of the elements.

     And, elements we did have!  The saddle is at about 11,500 feet and John had seen a weather forecast for 50+ mph winds at that elevation, with a daytime high of only 35 degrees.  It was very windy over the whole trip and especially so as we neared the summit.  That got me to thinking about the whole "natural quiet" issue, about which I just blogged with regard to the Grand Canyon.  You see, that phrase does not mean quiet, even though advocates imply that to be the case.  It really means that all the noise you hear is not man-made.  And, today we had lots of noise.  So much so, that it was hard to hear each other even when yelling.  At the summit, we guestimated that the winds were blowing upwards to twice has hard as we had been experiencing.  Maybe that would make it about 70 mph.  It felt like we could easily blow over the side, which causes one to crouch down low and take steps with great care.  I determined that if the wind is able to blow your hiking pole sideways, it's blowing too hard!  We stayed at the top for hardly ten minutes.  I was reluctant to taking off my pack and dig around for something to eat.  I just didn't trust that something might blow away, into the Inner Basin.

     I did get a chance to pull out my phone and send a photo to friends and family.  But, even just taking off my gloves for a couple of minutes practically gave me frostbite!  Not the cold so much as the wind.  I wore my balaclava from the saddle to the summit, and then back down to the saddle.  Brrr.  Once back to the saddle, we grabbed a spot that is always leeward here and had something to eat and rested for the better part of an hour.

     Coming back down, we decided to make an earlier departure from the trail, to avoid all the snowpacked sections, or, at least, many of them.  So, we reached a switchback and started down.  We were quite successful at this, and hardly had to cross any snowy areas.  Indeed, we were usually following some multi-colored ribbons that someone had strung up in the trees, perhaps to mark this more direct route through the woods.

Click on any photo to see a larger image. 

Starting hike from Snowbowl. 

"ASU 1962" along short cut way down. 

Snowpacked trail in shady spots. 

Past the saddle, bundled up! 

From the summit to Agassiz 

John & Buddy at the summit.
A view into the Inner Basin.  Dennis & Buddy at saddle. Agassiz and the ski runs.

  It was a long day.  We started at 7:45 a.m., reached the summit at about 12 noon, were back down to the saddle at 1:15 p.m., where we rested until 2 o'clock.  Then, we packed up and headed down the trail, reaching John's truck at about 4:30 p.m.  It was a nice hike for me, even if it did take all day.  It is the first significant hike I have done without my neoprene knee sleeve in over a year.  It felt good and I look forward to more hikes this summer.

Wednesday, June 18, 2011

   Wilderness Bull - The National Park Service is beginning the process of revising its Backcountry Management Plan for Grand Canyon.  They held a "scoping" session on the campus of NAU and I went to look over their material.  As I was considering their proposals (which are only tentative as of now), I was struck by how convoluted and contorted their plans were and I realized that this was all due to one key issue - most of the land in the park is "proposed" for wilderness designation in accord with the 1964 Wilderness Act, and the NPS manages those lands accordingly, even though Congress hasn't made any decision in this regard.  So, I asked the editor of the local paper, the Arizona Daily Sun, if he would be interested in a guest editorial on the issue of wilderness, as opposed to me writing something about the backcountry plan itself.  He was, and I did.  Surprisingly, I sent it off a bit after noon on Wednesday, June 8 and he ran it the very next day, and he used my title, which is unusual.  Here it is:

Is “Wilderness” Necessary in Grand Canyon?
Dennis Foster

Imagine biking along the road from the iconic Desert View Watchtower to Cape Solitude, stopping periodically to soak up the vast panorama of the Grand Canyon from atop the Palisades of the Desert.

Imagine driving along the Boundary Road, west of the Grand Canyon Village, in order to hike out to Mescalero Point or Piute Point or to the natural arch at Jicarilla Point.

Imagine driving out to Francois Matthes Point in order to camp overnight on the north rim overlooking Cheyava Falls, the highest waterfall in Grand Canyon.

Imagine all you want, but none of these activities is permitted at Grand Canyon National Park.  That’s because park officials want some 94% of the canyon’s 1.2 million acres to be considered as “wilderness” and managed according to the requirements set out in the 1964 Wilderness Act.

That probably sounds pretty benign.  After all, who could be against wilderness?  Well, I am.  Such a designation requires an act of Congress.  It mandates virtually no human presence, and certainly nothing permanent.  It prohibits any kind of mechanical conveyance, including bicycles.  And, any changes would require another act of Congress.

Congress has not voted to make any of Grand Canyon “wilderness.”  No president, since Nixon, has forwarded a recommendation to Congress asking for Grand Canyon lands to become wilderness, nor has any Interior Secretary make such a recommendation to the President since 1971.  Both of these steps are part of the protocol established by the Wilderness Act.

Yet, the park service has determined, as part of its own internal policy, that “proposed wilderness … will be managed to preserve their wilderness character and values undiminished until Congress acts on the recommendations.”  The fact that Congress has not acted on these proposals for nearly 40 years has become irrelevant to this management decision.

But, that means the park service can really operate beyond the law and treat lands as wilderness just because they want to.  Even if Congress rejected such a proposal, I suspect a new proposal would be made and they’d continue with business as usual.

Applying wilderness designation to national park land is excessive.  These lands are already well protected.  While the Wilderness Act includes national parks, it seems more focused on other lands.  Indeed, there are numerous wilderness areas astride the Grand Canyon, including Kanab Creek, Saddle Mountain and Paria Canyon.  Near to Flagstaff there are the wilderness areas of Kendrick Mountain, Kachina Peaks, Munds Mountain and Sycamore Canyon.  Altogether nearly 5% of the United States is in wilderness areas.  Arizona has some 90 such wilderness areas.  The Grand Canyon does not need to have a “wilderness” designation in order to meet its mandate to preserve its character for future generations.

In July, the Grand Canyon is getting a new Superintendent, Dave Uberuaga.  It appears that he may be at the canyon for many years to come.  He also appears to be receptive to the idea that we don’t need to close up the canyon to preserve it.  I would encourage Superintendent Uberuaga to consider having the park withdraw its recommendation for wilderness designation and return us to an era of responsible management where we can accommodate the visitor experience without loss of the park’s values.

Perhaps then we can do more than imagine camping overnight on an isolated north rim viewpoint, or access remote parts of the canyon without having to hike across miles and miles of forests, or riding a bicycle out to Cape Solitude.  Perhaps we may even come to do more than imagine a reestablished Hermit Camp, catering to hikers as it did a century ago.

Dennis Foster has a Ph.D. in Economics and has many hiked thousands of miles in the wilderness areas of Grand Canyon since 1977.

     I was able to do pretty much all I wanted with this editorial.  I probably could have made a stronger pitch to the new incoming superintendent, but he hasn't even gotten here yet!  The web responses were interesting and many were supportive.  I was kind of surprised that some people get the idea that the park doesn't need wilderness designation to be managed that way.  And, I really hate the idea that it would take an act of Congress to allow bicycles on the Cape Solitude road.

     To the right is the current map the park is using that shows their proposed wilderness areas.  It is linked to the 2010 update on their proposed wilderness document.  The map doesn't show the existing wilderness areas around the park and only identifies some of the other lands without any context.  For example, the lands to the east are Navajo and the tribe doesn't allow any development there.

     A few readers took issue with the fact that I am an economist.  It shows how little most people know about the subject.  Perhaps that will be the subject of a later editorial?

     My editorial triggered a responding guest editorial, "Grand Canyon a deserving wilderness," authored by some local environmentalists.  Their editorial lays out some of the facts and issues surrounding the wilderness issue, but didn't address my contention that it is unnecessary in order for the park to manage these lands in this way.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

   Backcountry Plan 2¢ - The National Park Service was soliciting comments for their revision of the backcountry management plan for Grand Canyon.  I previously blogged on the bigger picture here, Wilderness Bull.  But, with the deadline finally arriving (Monday, June 27), I did post off the following comment on-line:

Grand Canyon Backcountry Management Plan
Comments submitted on 6/27/2011

First and foremost, the park needs to reassess its wilderness policy.  Rim access to remote parts of the canyon should not be made more difficult, as has been the case for many years.  For example:

1. Motorized and non-motorized access to Cape Solitude.  Maybe some parts of the year can be reserved for hiking only, or for hiking & bikes only, but some accommodation should be made here.  It would be insane to hike out here in the middle of July, so why not allow vehicles then?

2. Motorized access along the boundary road.  It used to be open to the public, and getting to it is not especially easy, so why not leave it open?  Paying $25 to drive through 1.5 miles of Havasupai lands is just extortion.  Superintendent Alston told me that the park was considering clearing the old road from Dodd Tank to Lauzon Tank to Pasture Wash.  That would be an improvement, although the whole boundary road should be open.

3. Years ago I got a permit to camp at Francois Matthes Pt., on the north rim.  My dad and I drove out there and had a great time.  Today, you can't drive out there.  Why?  You also can't drive out to Tiyo Pt. (so I am told).  Why?  What is the point of closing off these roads?  By keeping people away, what have you accomplished?  Explain this!  And, don't say you're doing this to preserve the park for future generations, because it seems clear that the intent is to close these areas off permanently, so nobody gets to enjoy them.

The new plan should do more to create and maintain mid-level use area in the canyon.  A full-fledged campground at Hermits would be a start, along with some major improvements to camping sites between there and Indian Garden.  Cottonwood campground is often "sold out" during popular times and could be easily expanded.

All the inner canyon campgrounds should be market priced, and probably the best way to do that is by privatizing their operations (with different owners!!!!).

Current party limitations in more remote areas are absurd.  Letting two solo hikers monopolize Nankoweap is untenable.  It would be better to impose and number limit, than a party limit.  This past spring, my 3-person group was permitted for the same areas along the gems as an 8 party group and guess what?  We were on exactly the same itinerary for 3 days, with all of us camping together in Ruby and Slate (the third day, we decided to camp atop the Redwall on the Boucher trail rather than at Boucher creek).  I would also allow people to buy up slots if they really want a solitary experience (maybe on a rising scale; say $5 for the 1st slot, $10 for the 2nd, and so on).

Toilet facilities can be dramatically improved in a lot of sensitive areas, and that doesn't mean the awful tank toilets.  From Glen Canyon Dam to Lees Ferry there are fantastic facilities, maintained by the concessionaire.  It seems to me the same could be done in Grand Canyon at many crucial places - South Canyon, Nankoweap, Little Colorado, Tanner, Hance, Clear Creek, to name but a few.  Given that they are along the river, those users (and hikers) could have a fee that goes to their maintenance.  Also, for areas away from the river, or where hikers predominate, charge more for camping and provide better facilities (Horseshoe Mesa, Hermit, et al.).  The addition of the toilet at the 1.5 Mile house on the BA Trail many years ago still strikes me as having taken a remarkably long time to accomplish!  The ones at the 3 mile house and at the river were long overdue, and make for that much better of an experience.

With regard to backpacking permits, I would suggest consideration of a three tiered system, as follows:
Tier 1:  Permits for designated camping spots in the Corridor and Threshold use areas.
Tier 2:  Permits for open camping in Primitive areas.
Tier 3:  No specific permits necessary for Wild areas.  Require that backpackers file an itinerary with the park (obtaining whatever permits are needed for Tiers 1 & 2).  If use rises dramatically, a wild area can be changed to a Primitive area.

Revise the permitting process.  The fact that it has devolved into a random draw based on fax arrival times is a signal that something is terribly wrong here!

Finally, some have suggested the introduction of predators into the wilderness areas of the Grand Canyon - wolves and bears.  Please, don't do it.  Then, I'll have to start hiking with a gun, and I don't want to have to do that!  It is an example of the "law of unintended consequences."

Thank you for considering my comments.

     Yes, I do use too many exclamation marks.  But, since they mostly ignore whatever I have to say, I suppose I feel like the added emphasis might actually pay off.  OK, probably not.

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