CAC Looks Ahead to 2014
2013 was a great year for the Coalition of American Canyoneers (CAC) and we appreciate all the dedicated canyoneers who contributed to our efforts. A few of the highlights:
• In April a team of nine canyoneers, along with Forest Service land management representatives, worked to maintain Yankee Doodle, a high-traffic canyon that is extremely popular with beginners. The crew, led by CAC member Michael Schasch, improved trails and helped close off paths through sensitive areas, in addition to cleaning up the canyon.
• The CAC held back-to-back fundraising events in Flagstaff and Tempe for the Coconino County Search and Rescue units. Working in conjunction with the Arizona Hiking Shack, Imlay Canyon Gear, Babbits, Petzl and Trimble Outdoors, we raised over $5000 for training and equipment for the SAR teams. Coconino County has hundreds of slot canyons, including many of the best technical routes in the world. FIX and Dan Ransom generously donated their incredible films, Down the Line and Last of the Great Unknown, and canyoneering pioneer Joe DeSalme shared his experience making the first descent through Insomnia Canyon.
• We also held a clean-up project at the Toroweap Overlook where, over the years, tires and other debris were tossed over the rim toward the Colorado River. Working with Grand Canyon National Park rangers, CAC board members Rich Rudow and Sonny Lawrence, along with eight other CAC volunteers, rigged up a tripod and two 1000-foot 12.5mm ropes to pull a truckload of tires and other debris up 800’ from the canyon below.
• CAC provided input and expertise on the Death Valley National Park Wilderness and Backcountry Stewardship Plan. As the Death Valley park administration was developing a new access and permitting system, we provided counsel and helped formulate a plan that protects the Park’s interests while maintaining access for canyoneers without a burdensome permitting system. We see this kind of cooperative development as a model for future policy efforts.
• We also worked together with the NPS on the Arches National Park Climbing and Canyoneering Management Plan. The plan, which was formally approved in December, features a free online registration system for canyoneers — considerably better than the Zion National Park system which is always considered in new NPS plans. It also includes an ongoing monitoring program, and the flexibility to make changes if conditions, usage or impact warrant it. See the CAC website for a summary of the Arches Management Plan.
• New name and logo: The Board of Directors voted to change the name of the organization to Coalition of American Canyoneers. While wanting to keep the brand recognition we had developed through American Canyoneers, this name emphasizes that we are an association with an eye on our membership needs and the essence of our mission.
Outlook for 2014
We’re very excited about 2014 and building on our success over the past year with the following priorities:
• Continue to represent the canyoneering community to maintain access. Whenever possible, we will work with the land managers in a spirit of cooperation, and emphasize access through conservation, education and safety. Where appropriate, we will rally the community to express their opinions to both civil servants and political leaders. In all cases, we will keep our members informed through our website, newsletters and Facebook.
• Raising money for those that support canyoneering. One of the biggest opportunities is Search and Rescue teams, which have seen dramatic increases in the number of canyoneering rescues over the past several years. These SARs are mostly staffed by volunteers and usually funded by counties with low tax bases and tight budgets. CAC raises money for SAR training and equipment.
• Supporting land managers in conservation efforts. This not only builds good relations between the canyoneering communities and land managers, but also helps preserve the natural beauty of our canyons, often in the face of increased usage and traffic. The first one this year is scheduled for April 5th in Robbers Roost. More details will follow, but we welcome all canyoneers to attend and help out.
Great Thumb, Grand Canyon National Park
Access to the Great Thumb Mesa in the Grand Canyon has been a matter of interest and concern to our members lately. Great Thumb Mesa impacts access to some extraordinary slot canyons, including Royal Arch, 140 Mile, Panameta, Matkat and many others. See the CAC Facebook page for Rich Rudow’s photo series! The issue has become timely based on a November 29, 2013 letter sent from GCNP Superintendent David Uberuaga to the chairman of the Havasupai Tribe which proposes a plan for only 10 Great Thumb access permits a year. The CAC believes that this is clearly inconsistent with the 1975 Grand Canyon Enlargement Act and have communicated our position to the GCNP. We are in the midst of discussions with Superintendent Uberuaga and park management and will keep members informed of our progress, as well as opportunities to make your opinions heard.
CAC Eliminates Annual Membership Fee
Our membership continues to grow and in 2014 we want to grow even faster. With that in mind, the Board of Directors has agreed to eliminate the annual $5 membership fee. Thank you to all those who have already joined and contributed. We hope this new approach will eliminate any barriers to membership for others in the greater canyoneering community.
Naturally, we’d still love your contributions. The website membership registration provides the opportunity to do so if you wish. We will also continue our practice of soliciting donations for specific projects, such as SAR fundraisers.
Tell a Friend
We are doing valuable work for the canyoneering community, focusing on maintaining access to canyons by supporting and working with land managers and engaging in helping to preserve the natural beauty of our canyons. In these efforts, our numbers — the total amount of members — impacts our effectiveness.
You can help by encouraging all canyoneers to take a few minutes and formally join our ranks. In fact, we’d like to challenge each CAC member to make a difference and recruit at least one new member by this spring. You could start by forwarding this newsletter to every canyoneer you know that might be a prospective member.