GOOD NEWS ON HUNTING IN GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK
Submitted by Ted Williams on Wed, 05/10/2006 - 06:59.
May 9, 2006 GOOD NEWS ON HUNTING IN GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK Attempts by the Hualapai Tribe to hunt within the Grand Canyon National Park are dormant for now. The last meeting of the National Park Service (NPS) and the Tribe occurred in October 2004. The NPS wrote to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) that hunting was not discussed at that meeting. The Colorado River is the heart of Grand Canyon National Park. From Glen Canyon National Recreation Area to Lake Mead National Recreation Area, the Colorado stretches over 277 miles through the park. Adjacent to the west- side of the park lies the Hualapai Reservation. In 1997 the Hualapai asked the Interior Department Solicitor in Washington, D.C. to review the location of the reservation boundary in relation to the Colorado River and the park. On November 25, 1997, Solicitor John Leshy concluded that Hualapai Reservation extends north only as far as the south bank of the Colorado River. That line is also the park boundary. The 1997 opinion upset the Hualapai and, in an attempt to placate them, the NPS signed an agreement with the Tribe. The February 2000 agreement classified the Colorado River within the park, from bank to bank, from river miles 165 to 278 as an "Area of Cooperation." The Agreement established at least eight committees to plan for managing the "Area of Cooperation." Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) decided to investigate after learning that one of the committees was entitled the "Traditional Hunting Legislation Committee." For a year and a half, beginning on February 28, 2003, PEER used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to learn more about the Traditional Hunting Committee. The NPS refused to release any documents, based on a bogus claim that a presidential memorandum of 1994 on Government to Government Relationships with Indian Tribes constitutes a "statutory exemption" to FOIA. ( FOIA specifically exempts documents from disclosure if a statute – "(i) Requires that the matters be withheld from the public in such a manner as to leave no discretion on the issue…" 43 CFR 2.13(c)(3)). On January 20, 2004 PEER filed a FOIA appeal with the Interior Department. Finally, on June 7, 2004, the NPS relented and released to PEER the minutes of meetings between the NPS and the Hualapai Tribe from January 2001 through September 2003. On April 11, 2005, the NPS graciously sent PEER meeting notes for January, March and June 2004. The last meeting was October 2004. PEER review of the documents show that on April 4, 2001, a meeting of the "Traditional Hunting Legislation Committee," NPS and Hualapai members "…agreed to work together on federal legislation that would allow traditional tribal hunting…, by members of the Hualapai Tribe in accordance with Hualapai Tribal law, in the Area of Cooperation." Report of Committee. That would mean that hunting (primarily for bighorn sheep and deer) could occur from the high water marks of the south bank to the north bank of the Colorado for 113 miles of its length within the Grand Canyon National Park. The entire river lies within the Park and none lies within the Reservation. PEER found a January 6, 2004 Report by an NPS-hired consultant (Mary Orton Company of Henderson, Nevada) who has been guiding the Committees. The Orton Report states that "the group has agreed to work together on federal legislation that would allow traditional Hualapai hunting…, by members of the Hualapai Tribe in accordance with Hualapai Tribal law, in the Area of Cooperation." P. 3, January 6, 2004 Memo from the Mary Orton Company. PEER champions the principle that areas of the national park system have long been regarded as strict sanctuaries for wildlife in which hunting may occur ONLY where specifically provided for by Congress.