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News Developers say Escalade project at Colorado River confluence on track

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Jeremy Freeman, Jun 4, 2014.

  1. Jeremy Freeman

    Jeremy Freeman Staff Member

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    From the Navajo-Hopi Observer:

    FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - According to officials with the Grand Canyon Escalade development, this project is on track to go before the Navajo Nation Council for approval in June or at the latest in July.

    If the project gets council approval by the end of June, and the project gets through the permitting process, the project's developers plan to begin construction in the summer of 2015 with the goal to begin operation in May 2017. The Navajo Nation took over leasing requirements from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, meaning approval and permits for a project like this comes from the Navajo Nation.

    Confluence Partners, the project developer, refined the project to 420 acres located on the western edge of the Navajo reservation at the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers. The area is located about 100 miles by road from Interstate 40 and Flagstaff, Arizona.

    The development's main attraction would be an eight-person gondola tramway, which would deliver visitors to the Canyon floor in about 10 minutes. The length of the tramway is approximately 1.6 miles with about a 3,200 foot descent. A river walk with an elevated walkway would be constructed on the Canyon floor with a food pavilion.

    On the rim, a Navajoland Discovery Center, which would be overseen by an advisory board, has been added with an eye toward telling stories of Navajos' and other tribes' relationships to the Canyon. In addition, a multimedia complex and an estimated 47,000 square feet of retail and restaurants would be located on the rim. Future development could include a lodge hotel, boutique hotel, multiple midlevel motels (all of which could total about 900 rooms), an RV park and a general store.

    An all-weather paved road would be constructed. Water, power and infrastructure would also be available for the local chapter to build a community about half-way out to the site.

    Water for the project would come from Bodaway Gap.

    R. Lamar Whitmer, managing partner of Confluence Partners, said over the last year and a half he believes opposition to the project from Navajos has lessened. In meetings with Navajo Nation lawyers, Whitmer said the lawyers said the Nation has every right to develop this area.

    The president's office referred the Observer to Deswood Tome as a contact for this project. Calls and emails to Tome regarding the perspective of the administration and the Navajo Nation on the Escalade project were not returned.

    Finish reading the article at the Source
  2. Deagol

    Deagol too many hobbies

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    I CAN'T BELIEVE CERTAIN PEOPLE LIKE THIS KIND OF THING...
  3. Redrockhikerboy

    Redrockhikerboy

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    The Confluence is a special place and it saddens me to think about the development of that deeply spiritual area. I have visited twice on foot (hiked the LCR from Cameron about 18 years ago with beta from John Annerino's Seirra Handbook) and visited as part of a Tanner/Beamer out and back hike as well as on two river trips. With that said, the Navajo are a very economically depressed people and one cannot blame folks for attempting to survive, both economically and culturally. I respect the Navajo and wish the best for them as a people. I do wish, however, they were able to realize a way in which to take the money from the touristas in a fashion that is environmentally and spiritually friendly such as guiding canyons and various other landscapes and through an enhanced parks/visitation bureau.
    Funny...I thought Deer Creek was closed, officially, due to it being a sensitive area to Native people--a sacred place. The Confluence is too...but money trumps everything as it does in our overall culture (think dams, oil spills, and all the rest).
    I do hope this project--which has been in the works for some time-- is ultimately derailed by the Navajo's own commitment to the environment and the spirituality of the place...and that they are able to secure means for survival through other avenues.
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  4. Bootboy

    Bootboy Atwood Gear

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    Developers who are willing to trample on areas like this all to make money sicken me. I understand that people need to make a living but some places should simply be left alone. (See: Wildernes)

    A certain Joni Mitchell song comes to mind...

    The whole thing is stinky, sickening and sad.


    LNT
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  5. Austin Baird

    Austin Baird

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    I don't know why everyone is so upset. I'm sure that most of the money will make its way to the Navajo people and not get siphoned off to corrupt white men who are just using them as pawns.
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  6. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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  7. yetigonecrazy

    yetigonecrazy living legend

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    I am all for the majority of the project, except for the idea of reaching the confluence. Hotels, tourist centers, restaurants, I got not problem with that up on the rim. It's a desolate flat land above there anyway and if they want to develop their land in that way, let em. I am not sure that accessing the canyon below there is the answer, though, as that is certainly changing the entire mental "idea" of the Grand Canyon. Despite the development that has been made on all the various areas of the rims, the big thing is that everything below rim level has long been a land of wilderness and "there be dragons here". Even though it would only be in one place, that idea of the canyon floor being unreachable, or at least mysterious, would be forever broken.

    Unfortunately, part of me agrees with the various comments above about money making this happen. The only way you are going to bring people out to the canyon rim hotels/restaurants/tourist centers in the first place is with the draw of a main attraction. Simply showing up to look at it from another side isn't going to generate the huge income by itself- you need a centerpiece. And that is why I have fears for this project to go through.
  8. Deagol

    Deagol too many hobbies

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    I believe there is value to open spaces when close to unique, massive, significant features, even if "desolate" because this has it's own austere beauty. Of course, none of this is up to me.
  9. Redrockhikerboy

    Redrockhikerboy

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    The Confluence...calcium carbonate blue water of the Little C mingles with the deeper greenish water of the Colorado proper

    IMG_4818.JPG
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  10. Redrockhikerboy

    Redrockhikerboy

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    Just upstream of the Confluence...the Little Colorado
    IMG_4828.
  11. Redrockhikerboy

    Redrockhikerboy

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    The Ben Beamer cabin perched above the LCR

    IMG_4823.JPG
  12. Redrockhikerboy

    Redrockhikerboy

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    Water and Rock...the essence of canyons

    IMG_4825.JPG
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  13. Scott Patterson

    Scott Patterson

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    Since the Grand Canyon National Park and Navajo Reservation both claim ownership of the confluence (and the east side of Marble Canyon), is there a land battle over ownership? Could part of it to assert and confirm Navajo ownership of the land?

    Also the NPS has closed the mouth of the Little Colorado to camping because of "sensitive wildlife habitat". Is there an issue there?

    I'm just curious as to whether or not there is a conflict at all between the Navajo and NPS.

    I guess the Navajo could point to the development on the South Rim and say that there is no difference.
    Ram likes this.
  14. Ram

    Ram

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    Lovely photos. Seeing what can be lost helps.
    I like many am disturbed by the treatment of the native people's. Here we give them the worst land after breaking our word countless times over centuries. And now we want their (theyri're) canyons (Kabito area) and want to restrict their use of THEIR land in accordance with our wishes.....
    Still......
    Wilderness needs space. Chip away at it and you lose wilderness. It can't be made, only lost....
    But......
    what concerns me most is what is to stop the natives from putting in a launch up on the east side of Marble Canyon and do day trips down to this new resort in the bottom of the canyon. Then the wilderness quality of a third of the Grand Canyon is gone. And forever.
    Would I blame the natives for thumbing their nose and extending their middle fingers? No. Does it undermine their argument to close Deer Creek for spiritual reasons? Perhaps. I don't wish to lump all tribes into one big group. Complicated issues. I know what side I must come down on
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  15. Bootboy

    Bootboy Atwood Gear

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    I agree that our government has a deplorable track record with the natives but there is a lot to consider here.

    Would things have gone the way of the mega-development in the Grand Canyon had we not brought it under the paradigm of American wilderness (below the rim)?

    White man is here to stay and the land is ours to share now, so can we reasonably say that what was in the best interest of the land was to leave it to the natives to do with as they see fit? Or would it all be gondolas and casinos?

    I'm not saying one way or the other but it's certainly something to consider.

    The American concept of wilderness was unique in the world and though it has evolved, it has served as an inspiration to nations every where to protect beautiful places from the greedy hands of man simply for their intrinsic value as unique and beautiful places.


    LNT
  16. Deagol

    Deagol too many hobbies

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    we are all members of the same species.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2014
  17. Ram

    Ram

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    From Tom Martin...


    Tramway discussed at Navajo Nation Council

    Hi all, just back from a Window Rock, AZ, meeting of the Naa'bik'iyati' Committee. This committee is made up of all the members of the Navajo Nation Council, and handles intergovernmental relationships with non-Navajo, federal or state government entities.

    On the agenda today was a report from the Save the Confluence famalies presented by Ms. Dee Wilson-Aguirre and Ms. Pauline Martin-Sanchez. Also welcomed to speak during the report was Hopi Tribal Chairman Herman Honanie.

    Of the over seventy people in attendance were the Hopi Tribe Vice-chairman, almost the entire Hopi Tribal Council along with the Hopi Tribal Preservation officer, various members of the families that live out at the Confluence, and candidates for this year’s elections for open Navajo Nation Tribal Council seats.

    The Save the Confluence family members gave a presentation on the sacredness of the Confluence, how the tramway plan has caused infighting in the local Bodaway-Gap chapter where the development would occur, how expensive the development would be, how little revenue would return to the area, and how secretive the tramway developers have been in their planning, including plans for 3,000 acres of development.

    Hopi Tribal Chairman Honanie expressed his nation’s great concern for the preservation of the Confluence, and he stressed the significance of the entire Grand Canyon to the Hopi Tribe. Honanie reiterated the unanimous Hopi Tribal Council resolution in support of a tramway-free Grand Canyon given the fact that the Hopi Tribe are stewards of the Grand Canyon and do not want to see the area secularized.

    After the presentation, Navajo Nation councilmember Leonard Tsosi, member of the Navajo Nation Resource and Development committee, spoke in favor of the development. Tsosi noted that a resolution is being drafted in the president’s office in support of the development, though there was no mention of when the legislation would come before the council.

    Navajo Nation Councilman Dwight Witherspoon of the Health, Education and Human Services Committee then took the floor. Councilman Witherspoon noted that the Navajo Nation has gone to court to protect the Sacred San Francisco Peaks, and noted the need to protect other areas sacred to the Tribe from development.

    While this proposal to construct a tramway in Grand Canyon is contentious outside of the Navajo Nation, I came away with a better appreciation of just how contentious this issue is within the Navajo Nation itself.

    Tom Martin
    Co-Director
    River Runners For Wilderness
    PO Box 30821
    Flagstaff, AZ 86003-0821
    Hm: 928-556-0742
    Mobile: 928-856-9065
    tommartin@rrfw.org
    www.rrfw.org






  18. Ram

    Ram

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    An editorial in the Navajo Times

    http://www.navajotimes.com/opinions/2014/0714/070314letters.php

    Escalade project will desecrate sacred place

    There's a classic book titled "The Sacred and the Profane." It talks about
    things like humanity'
    s recognition of sacred spaces and mankind's ties to
    the universe. Something to be proud of are the examples used of Native
    peoples and how we identify our sacred places.

    This letter's longer title was "The Grand Canyon and the Proposed Escalade
    Project." It resembles the book title I mentioned.

    The Grand Canyon and its Confluence (where the Little Colorado River flows
    into the big Colorado) are "the Sacred." Escalade is "the Profane," with its
    scarring tramway down the wall of the canyon, other structures, the hundreds
    of thousands of tourists on the sacred landscape, human waste issues, etc.

    President Teddy Roosevelt said this when declaring the Grand Canyon a
    national monument in 1908: "Arizona has a natural wonder-- unparalleled
    throughout the world. I want to ask you to keep this great wonder of nature
    as it now is. I hope you will not have a building of any kind-- to mar the
    wonderful grandeur, the sublimity, the great loneliness and beauty of the
    canyon. Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at
    work on it, and man can only mar it."

    Although I'm not one to normally quote an American president, his statement
    resonates. Escalade is a graffiti-like profanity that will mar a sacred
    place, sacred not just to us, but to America and much of the world.

    Our and the Hopis' traditional elders and ancestors knew (since time began)
    to leave the Confluence unmarred. But the money takers and their investors
    are planning, in an instant, to desecrate a world-renowned sacred place.

    Escalade is, to many Navajos, another page in the continuing story of our
    compromised and backwards government. It's a compromise that betrays our
    reputation, our culture, our sovereignty, our dignity, and our future for
    narrow and inadequate returns for our entire people.

    Escalade has hardly begun to encounter opposition. The U.S., for example,
    tried to put two dams in the Grand Canyon in the 1960s. Millions of
    Americans, even school children through "My Weekly Reader," opposed them. If
    Window Rock approves Escalade, a federal environmental impact study is
    required. All of America can comment.

    What Escalade promoters don't understand, but Roosevelt did, is people come
    to see the Grand Canyon for what it is. They can go to Las Vegas for the
    profane. Escalade would cheapen the canyon's grandeur, as Roosevelt warned.

    "Save the San Francisco Peaks" but "Mar the Confluence" is hypocritical.
    We're all stained by the short-sightedness of a few. Our long-term political
    and economic futures are threatened by it. Good faith is the foundation of
    every economy, and ours is beginning to be desecrated by the idea of
    Escalade.

    While the money takers seek personal riches, our real economy is literally
    going down the drain -- controlled, as always, by the takers and the lawyers
    for the bigger benefit of outsiders. Others have written about this, and the
    fact that our people's economic enemies, inside and outside Window Rock, are
    very clever.

    The millions who defeated the 1960s Grand Canyon dams included
    conservatives, liberals, independents, and youth. If Window Rock is
    short-sighted enough to approve Escalade, opposition will most probably
    skyrocket.

    Janene Yazzie
    Lupton, Ariz.
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  19. Ram

    Ram

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  20. Ram

    Ram

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    Looks like we have gotten a stay of execution. Big exhale

    Confluence Partners miss a critical deadline, plan to delay Escalade a yearby Halne'é

    Controversial Grand Canyon Gondola Grounded for a Year
    Anne Minard
    7/17/14
    A tourist attraction proposed for the Navajo side of the Grand Canyon has been delayed by a year, because the controversial plan didn’t make it on the Navajo Nation Council’s summer legislative agenda.
    A Phoenix-based development group, the Confluence Partners, fronted the plan in 2012 to build Grand Canyon Escalade, which would occupy 420 acres near the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado Rivers, just east of Grand Canyon National Park. The development’s main draw would be the “Escalade” Gondola Tramway, carrying tourists to the Canyon floor. Once there, visitors could walk along an 1,100-foot elevated riverwalk, eat at a restaurant, or visit an amphitheater and terraced grass seating area overlooking the Colorado River. The development would also include a Navajo cultural center and retail and art galleries.
    Lamar Whitmer, of Confluence Partners, said all the necessary approvals are in place, and the legislation was delivered to the Navajo Nation three months ago. As a next step, it would have been assigned a legislation number by the Navajo Nation Speaker’s office, but Jared Touchin, spokesman for the office, said the legislation never arrived; he suspects there were legal issues that remain to be resolved. The deadline for consideration in the legislative Summer Session was Tuesday, July 8.
    Read more http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwo...ial-grand-canyon-gondola-grounded-year-155911
    Read more at,
    http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwo...ial-grand-canyon-gondola-grounded-year-155911



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