Grand Canyon shutdown protesters dispersed at Lees Ferry

2013-10-01T14:00:00Z 2013-10-02T08:42:57Z Grand Canyon shutdown protesters dispersed at Lees FerryBy ERIC BETZ Sun staff reporter Arizona Daily Sun
October 01, 2013 2:00 pm  • 

Law enforcement officials have dispersed a group of river rafters and others protesters who had gathered near the river entrance to Grand Canyon National Park at Lees Ferry.

The federal government shutdown blocked off the most popular input to the Colorado River today, resulting in dozens of would-be river rafters, fly fishermen and tourists being turned away at the road downriver of the Glen Canyon Dam. National Parks Service and Coconino County Sheriff’s Office law enforcement personnel are on scene.

Some rafters with permits were allowed to depart this morning, but a group of about 20 people who had permits to raft tomorrow are now protesting at a roadblock to Lees Ferry Road.

“Our group has spent over $30,000 to plan this trip and make it happen, now we are being told to go home by unpaid park rangers,” said Drew Huemmler of Philadelphia.

The group’s trip leader, Pete Wisniewski, had first applied for the permit to raft the canyon back in 1995, the same year that Grand Canyon National Park also shut down.

Marble Canyon Lodge owner Don Foster remembers that shutdown and says it also had an impact on his business then, as it is having now.

“I remember seeing the roadblocks before at the entrance to Lees Ferry and the guides getting turned away,” Foster said. He says there are several dozen protesters currently lined up along Highway 89A in the same area now parked with their equipment.

The Foster family has owned the lodge for decades and seen it turn into a business that caters to the river rafting and fishing community over the past 50 years.

“We started taking cancellations as soon as it looked like (the shutdown) was going through,” he said. So far, they’ve only had about a half-dozen room cancellations, but he expects many people are waiting to see what will happen with the federal government before they cancel long-planned trips.

Wisniewski said that there are currently about eight large-capacity passenger vehicles at the entrance being blocked out, with a total of 50 to 80 people gathered. He says his group plans to hang out and camp in the area with their equipment to see if the Grand Canyon reopens by tomorrow.

“It definitely has a lot of impacts on tourism in this part of Arizona with fishing and downriver,” Foster said. “It’s sad those people spend years waiting for a permit only to end up with a cancellation.”

For more on the local effects of the shutdown, see Wednesday’s Arizona Daily Sun.

Copyright 2015 Arizona Daily Sun. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(13) Comments

  1. drhughjorgen
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    drhughjorgen - October 14, 2013 6:23 am
    STEPHANOPOULOS: But Mr. Speaker, he says -- and he said it publicly on many occasions, that you came to him back in July and offered to pass a clean government funding resolution, no Obamacare amendments, that was $70 billion below what the Senate wanted. They accepted it. And now, you've reneged on that offer.

    BOEHNER: No, clearly there was a conversation about doing this.

    STEPHANOPOULOS: Several conversations.

    BOEHNER: Several. But--

    STEPHANOPOULOS: And you offered a clean resolution.

    BOEHNER: But I and my members decided the threat of Obamacare and what was happening was so important that it was time for us to take a stand. And we took a stand.

  2. drhughjorgen
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    drhughjorgen - October 14, 2013 6:19 am
    This does suck! I agree us rafters have respect for the campsites and river and we don't need Rangersto go down a river. I do protest you who get your news about this shutdown from Fox news and assume what their are saying is the truth. I don't want to turn this comment into a political fight but WTH people, You have to be intelligent enough to make political comments that are not just Fox news pablum. Why did Bachmann say she and TP are all giddy about Gov shutdown? Please read more.
  3. Dr Jerome
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    Dr Jerome - October 08, 2013 7:05 am
    Federal gov intentionally hurting the citizen,. as one insider revealed: “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.”

    And that quote came from the Washington Times, not some anti-gov website.

  4. Dr Jerome
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    Dr Jerome - October 07, 2013 7:43 pm
    I rafted down the canyon in 2009. Didn't see one single park ranger.between Lee's Ferry and Lava Falls. The boat hands had the utmost respect for the river and campsites.
  5. babykitty
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    babykitty - October 03, 2013 10:06 pm
    Thank you, Hazel.
  6. babykitty
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    babykitty - October 03, 2013 10:03 pm
    Why are these unpaid rangers armed, and why do they "need" to be there? Private river runners don't require a park ranger to show them how or where to launch. Signs and brochures certainly would suffice. Such a stupid situation, with the domino effect already having begun. A tantrum lead to this. Put this child in the corner to think about it, and let the rest of the country carry on as the rightfully free citizens they are.
  7. babykitty
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    babykitty - October 03, 2013 9:48 pm
    This is no little inconvenience to vacationers. My husband is one of 16 people who have planned for their river trip for over a year, securing the permit after 15 years of waiting for the lottery pick. Do the math for 16 people/21 days/3 meals per day/boats&frames/oars/PFDs/etc...tons more. Denied access to the put-in, unable to use their rightful permit purchased a year ago. Why were these places NOT barricaded or closed in the previous shutdown?! WHY ARE THEY NOW CLOSED?! Lawsuits are coming..
  8. jdog777
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    jdog777 - October 03, 2013 5:00 pm
    not true.... the ex-military cut the rope and walk right into the sites. NPS had no grace... because they put up the baracades. These folks should move to the river. It is the people's park... not the park service park.
  9. AdamW
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    AdamW - October 03, 2013 10:17 am
    I'm confused about the "unpaid park workers." Can anyone explain how the government is enforcing the closure of the public lands without paying the people doing the enforcing?
  10. Pete
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    Pete - October 02, 2013 10:22 pm
    What happened to WE THE PEOPLE??? After all, WE, THE PEOPLE, own the Grand Canyon, all the national forests, all the BLM lands, all the national parks etc.!!!!!
    Not wanting to get into politics but the US House has offered to negotiate with the Democratic controlled Senate but Harry Reid say NO! It is our way or nothing else. Doesn't seem like a democratic stand to me.
  11. David Seals
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    David Seals - October 02, 2013 4:11 pm
    It's a good thing. The rafters are ruining the River.
  12. Hazel
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    Hazel - October 01, 2013 5:36 pm
    NPS Rangers at war memorials in D.C. had the grace to allow visiting groups of ex-military in to the sites today, or at least not to react when they moved the barriers to let themselves in.
    Grand Canyon river runners can't just come back later this year or even another year. Launches are by lottery only. The rafters are prepared for a wilderness, look-after-yourself trip. There are no rangers to pint out the bathroom locations, to provide running commentaries of what they are seeing, etc.
  13. BrandyChicks
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    BrandyChicks - October 01, 2013 4:22 pm
    This is a absolute horrible mess! Pete and all my boater friends, I dearly hope that your trip of a lifetime isn't wrecked but some retarded government .....All who read this know that I have my fingers crossed for you, and for all of you that I don't know awaiting the same fate!!!!
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