November 29, 2013
Chairman The Havasupai Tribe
PO Box 10
Supai, Arizona 86435
Dear Chairman Watahomigie:
Thank you for your letter dated June 24, 2013 regarding backcountry access across the Havasupai Reservation. My apologies for the delay in this response and I hope we can meet in the near future to discuss the contents of this letter and develop a plan to move forward.
For access across Great Thumb to Grand Canyon National Park (Park) backcountry, I understand your concerns about fall elk hunting and the ability to support access in the spring only. Based on visitor use patterns, I suggest that 10 permits are issued (no more than one per week) in the spring season, approximately the second week of March through mid-May. If you are amenable, I would like to request that you allow this access to begin in 2014 and continue into the future if it is successful in the first year.
I agree that the Park and the Tribe need to coordinate permitting from both jurisdictions. I have some thoughts about the potential facilitation role of the Park in permitting, and am also very interested to hear your thoughts so that we can develop the process together.
Regarding day use, I recognize your concerns for the Pasture Wash area and the potential impacts on Havasupai resources. Currently, people are required to have a permit for any overnight use in the Park including South Bass Trailhead and two designated campsites on Havasupai Point Road. As a clarification, my suggestion presented at our meeting earlier this year to discontinue day-use beyond Pasture Wash was specific to the area northwest of Pasture Wash, not the South Bass Trailhead and Havasupai Point. I agree that day-use should not be allowed northwest of Pasture Wash, heading towards Great Thumb. However, I would like to see day-use continue to the South Bass Trailhead and Havasupai Point.
In an effort to better manage day-use and overnight visitors in the South Bass and Havasupai Point area, I recommend that the Park and the Tribe work jointly to maximize our public outreach efforts. Outreach materials would educate visitors about the need to pay a tribal access fee, and what activities to avoid when driving through the reservation enroute to South Bass and Havasupai Point. It could also provide information about safety during hunting season. Education material could be provided to the public through the Park’s information bulletins, on the web site and through the Backcountry Information Office. A printed version of this information could also be provided to Havasupai rangers at the Pasture Wash ranger station to be handed out to those passing through the reservation boundary gate.
To work through these issues I suggest we meet and discuss in detail:
• How to implement permitting procedures for accessing the Park across Great Thumb in the spring;
• The effective date for allowing 10 permits for Great Thumb; and
• Opportunities to educate day-users passing through the reservation to access South Bass trailhead and Havasupai Point Road.
For long-term management of these issues that affect both the Park and the Havasupai Tribe, I believe we should be working jointly towards an agreement document for management of the Pasture Wash and Great Thumb area.
I value the relationship we have with the Havasupai Tribe and look forward to our next meeting. At your earliest convenience, please contact my office about scheduling a date to meet. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at (928) 638-7945 or Janet Cohen, Tribal Program Manager at (928) 638-7445.