LECHEE, Ariz. — The Navajo Nation has shared concerns about the National Park Service’s lack of communication for safety upgrades at Antelope Point Mariana in Page, Ariz.
Navajo Nation Council Chairman Seth Damon and Council Delegate Paul Begay said there has been communication and tribal consultation by the NPS regarding requested and necessary improvements to the launch pads, gangway ramps and utility lines during record low water levels affecting Antelope Point Marina.
In a 2021 report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Colorado Basin River Forecast Center, the amount of water at Lake Powell has dropped about 100 feet over the past three years due to severe drought conditions. As water depletion increases, Glen Canyon Dam has lost about 16% of its ability to generate electricity, potentially affecting 5.8 million homes and businesses in seven states.
Damon said council is urgently asking Glen Canyon Superintendent William Shott and National Park Service Director Chuck Sams to work with them now and said council is concerned about the lack of communication and the NPS’ continued delay in approving upgrades.
“The situation with this mega-drought is impacting our farmland, water supply levels and the second largest reservoir in the United States,” Damon said. “The Navajo Nation has economic investments in the area and Antelope Point Marina. It concerns [us that NPS and its] continued to delay and fail to approve fundamental upgrades to our Navajo boat launches, gangways, water, sewer, gasoline and natural gas lines that operate the Antelope Point Marina.
Covering more than 600 acres of land in the Navajo Nation, Antelope Point Marina during peak season employs approximately 400 employees, many of whom are youth.
In 1979, the NPS developed a General Management Plan (GMP) for the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (GCNRA) to manage the area and to cooperate with the Navajo Nation in the management and development of the South Rim at recreational purposes.
“This 50-year-old quadrilateral agreement is outdated and does not respect the sovereignty of the Navajo people,” Begay said. “It prevented us from developing along the shoreline because the park service has jurisdiction over a buffer zone surrounding Lake Powell. The National Park Service has ignored several requests for approval of our upgrades to boat launches, walkways and utility lines, posing a safety risk to Antelope Point Marina. Hundreds of young people are employed during the summer and thousands of tourists are in danger. This is total negligence on the part of the federal government and the National Park Service.
Antelope Point Holdings LLC (APH) is an authorized GCNRA dealer and Navajo Nation tenant. APH sent a letter in April 2021 to Shott seeking approval for two temporary dock projects at low water to accommodate larger boats to reach the lake safely.
After a late response from the NPS, the APH sent another letter in January requesting approval for visitor access to the main low-water walkway as the marina responds to lower water levels. water before the 2022 season.
“There are serious safety concerns at Antelope Point Marina, where the requested improvements must be made immediately,” said Resources and Development President Rickie Nez. “In the event of an emergency or injury to a tourist, the National Park Service would be held accountable as it ignored multiple requests for critical safety and operational upgrades. Tribal consultation by the park service is crucial as we are solving this growing problem that affects the economic viability of Antelope Point Marina.
Shott sent a letter to the APH on April 25 denying all requests and notifying all parties that the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Coast Guard had been notified of possible unauthorized dock installations and that any improvements not approved would result in citations and fines. He also acknowledged that falling water levels were affecting MPA, but noted that “adding property or infrastructure to an uncertain and shrinking resource is not a logical option.”
In a response letter last week, Chief Administrative Officer Mr Ken Runnels said low water proposals for Antelope Point Marina regarding the launch pad had either been refused or remained unanswered.
“Our requests are consistent with our concession agreement and improve overall public safety, well-being and access to the waters of Lake Powell,” he said. “Not allowing our ramp improvements and water slides and delaying approvals to improve pedestrian access has resulted in significant operational challenges for the marina. The National Park Service’s decision is entitled to secondary review as time is running out in this process.
According to congressional testimony provided by Assistant Secretary Shannon Estenoz for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the GCNRA will receive $31 million in additional federal disaster funding to fix boat ramps and related infrastructure to address reduced water levels at Lake Powell.
However, Begay and local leaders are frustrated with the NPS because this federal aid will no longer be used to address APM’s concerns.
The To’ Niltoli’ Task Force is working alongside the Executive Branch to coordinate a roundtable to address growing concerns from the LeChee Chapter and Antelope Point Holdings LLC to Interior Secretary Debra Haaland and National Park Service Director , Mr. Chuck Sams . A joint letter from the Navajo Nation government will report the situation to Congress and the White House later this month.