Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Canyonlands National Park: The 1936 Version of Escalante National Monument

National Parks and Monuments in Distress

The original proposal for the monument would have included most of what is now Canyonlands National Park and Bears Ears National Monument...  This kills the idea that there has been no debate on the creation of Bears Ears.  There has been debate on the protection of these lands for many, many decades.

Many of the issues around Bears Ears were also being debated during the creation of Canyonlands. See the links below for a look at these debates.

The timeline of the creation of Canyonlands National Park from the National Park Service's (NPS) From Controversy to Compromise to Cooperation: The Administrative History of Canyonlands National Park:

1935: First National Park Service survey of “Escalante” region, including Glen Canyon, Cataract Canyon, Canyonlands basin,Waterpocket Fold and San Juan River Canyon.

1936: First Escalante National Monument concept introduced that covered more than 6,000 square miles and included the entire Greater Canyonlands region; plan harshly criticized in Utah.

1936: The Wilderness Society designated 8.8 million acre “Colorado River Canyons” region extending from Glen Canyon to Book Cliffs as largest roadless tract in continental United States.

1938: Second Escalante National Monument concept introduced that covered 2,450 square miles region along narrow swath surrounding Colorado River; revised plan severely criticized.

1940: Second Escalante concept repackaged as a “recreation area” by the NPS and Interior Secretary
Harold Ickes; bills died in Congressional committees before reaching floor for vote.

1942–43: Escalante surveys continued with more emphasis placed on the Canyonlands basin as a region distinct from the rest of the Greater Canyonlands region.

1944: Proposal for “Grandview National Park” circulated internally at National Park Service regional and national offices; plan never released to general public.

1952: National Geographic Magazine article on southeast Utah published which focused on the Canyonlands basin had the first color photos of the region to appear in a national magazine.

1956: National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management agreed to first of several memorandums of understanding regarding management of the Canyonlands region.

1957: Needles and Grandview Recreation Area concepts discussed at National Park Service as either
stand-alone park units or extensions of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

1959: First National Park Service survey of Canyonlands region focused on the Needles area.

1960: Senator Wallace Bennett (R-Utah) introduced first “park” bill for Canyonlands region which designated a Needles National Recreation Area.

1960: NPS Planner Leo Diederich conceived basin-wide park concept in Canyonlands region.

1961: Udall led political and media junket to the Canyonlands basin in July, then announced plan for a “Canyon Lands National Park” as part of a “Golden Circle” of tourist destinations.

1961: Udall withdrew one million acres of the Canyonlands region from entry.

1962: First Canyonlands park bill introduced by Utah Democratic Senator Frank Moss that encompassed approximately 330,000 acres.

1964: Canyonlands National Park bill encompassing 257,400 acres passed after three-year political tussle; signed into law on September 12 by President Lyndon Johnson.

1964: Bates Wilson named superintendent of Canyonlands National Park in October while remaining
superintendent of Arches N. M. and Natural Bridges N. M.; the three park units administratively
encompassed what was called thereafter the “Canyonlands Complex.”

1965: Canyonlands staff set up residences/offices in January at Squaw Flat and Willow Flat.

1965: Master Plan for Canyonlands completed in September that included large visitor centers, hotels, marinas, paved roads and an “amphithorium” at Grandview Point.

1968: Bates Wilson and others at the National Park Service expressed reservations about the Canyonlands Master Plan and began to recommend scaling back park development plans.

1971: Canyonlands National Park enlarged by 87,000 acres that included the Maze and Land of Standing Rocks, Davis and Lavender Canyons, creating a park totaling 337,540 acres.


Utah Historical Quarterly: The Canyonlands National Park Controversy (1991)

National Park Service - From Controversy to Compromise to Cooperation : The Administrative History of Canyonlands National Park (2008)

Bears Ears National Monument

Canyonlands National Park

National Parks and Monuments in Distress

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