The Sept. 3 news story "A Cramped Grand Canyon" reported on air and land congestion, but there's also a problem on the water at the Grand Canyon.

If an average citizen, wanted to get on the Colorado River in his own boat and applied for a permit today, he could expect to shove off in about the year 2015. That's because the river has become monopolized by commercial operators. What's more, 80 percent of this traffic is motorized, and passengers usually are ferried in and out via helicopter. Naturally, all of this activity robs the river of the peace and quiet that should be part of any national park experience.

We applaud the Park Service's efforts to eliminate traffic jams and reduce the racket overhead, but the agency has allowed the motorized raft companies to call the shots on the Colorado River. Twenty years ago, the Park Service proposed that the river corridor be made part of the National Wilderness Preservation System, which would rule out the use of motors there.

As we celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Wilderness Act this month, it would be an appropriate time for the Park Service to move forward with this plan. If we're going to make the Grand Canyon as grand as it can be, such a step is essential.



The Wilderness Society