National Park ServiceU.S. Department of the Interior
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Conservation of Historic Grand Canyon Boats

Description: Plan, fundraise for, and implement a $250,000, three-year project to conserve 19 historic watercraft (boats/rafts/kayaks) and interpret them for the public . The boats have national historical significance relative to people and events connected to Colorado River exploration, recreation, and science. Eight of the 19 boats are currently located outdoors in the courtyard of the Grand Canyon NP's former visitor center, and have not had conservation care or protection from the elements for 30 years. The project includes conservation of the boats and documentation of the colorful history associated with them.

Geographic area covered: The boats are located at Grand Canyon National Park, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the John Wesley Powell Museum in Green River. Three of the boats are in field curation along the Colorado River. The geographic area of influence includes interpretation of river management and use along the entire Colorado River and its tributaries, and the place of river running in western exploration and recreation.

List of partners and relationships: The Grand Canyon National Park Foundation is the park's primary fundraising partner. The Colorado River Fund, a public charity serves as the repository and project manger for river concessioner franchise fees. The Grand Canyon River Guides Association is developing a collection of oral histories about the Colorado River and its use. The National Park Service (NPS) owns and has management responsibility for the boats.

Accomplishments to date: The Foundation and NPS agreed upon, a project concept, scope and timeline and formalized an agreement and respective project roles and relationships. The NPS Cultural Resources Manager is drafting a comprehensive project statement to meet resource protection objectives and has worked with the NPS Western Archeological and Conservation Center to evaluate the boats.

The Grand Canyon National Park Foundation formed an external advisory group of various river/boating interests which provided input to the Foundation on several aspects of the project including planning, fundraising, recognition, publicity and execution of the first stage of boat moving and cleaning. The Foundation proposed a phased project schedule, and an initial timeline for moving the first three boats for conservation in July 2003. The Foundation and advisory group representatives presented the proposed project to the Board of Directors for approval.

Key success factors:

  1. A common ground of respect and appreciation for the historic boats as a valuable resource and for the stories they tell, lead to a mutual desire to protect them.
  2. The knowledge, interest, and investment brought to the table by the Foundation through the advisory group.
  3. The link to others interested in the Grand Canyon, the Colorado River and river running.
  4. The chance to build our constituency for this project and reach out to this audience.
  5. Working together to formulate the project plan by bringing together the NPS, resource management, boating community, commercial interests, and fundraising and recognition expertise.

Frustrations: The age old challenge of who's responsible for what from a to z on this project, ranging from meshing visions for the project objective to how it will be implemented. Bringing together the sometimes disparate perspectives of the government bureaucracy and the private sector fundraising/friendraising organization.

Most important lessons learned to date:

  1. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
  2. Be flexible and open to new ideas/ways of doing things wherever possible.

What would you do differently next time: Dialogue could have started sooner to maximize benefits and avoid divergent plans.

Suggested resource materials:

For more information:

Name: Joe Alston
Affiliation: Superintendent, Grand Canyon National Park
Phone/Fax: : 928-638-7945

Name: Jan Balsom
Affiliation: Chief, Branch of Cultural Resources Management
Grand Canyon National Park
Phone/Fax: :928-638-7858

Name: Deborah Tuck
Affiliation: President, Grand Canyon National Park Foundation
Phone/Fax: 928-774-1760

Partnership category(ies) (check all that apply)

Fundraising _X_; Capital Improvements __; Facility Management __; Trails __; Design __; Program Delivery __; Visitor Services __; Tenant Organizations __ ; Concessioners __; Natural Resources Management/Restoration __; Cultural Resources __; Education/Interpretation _X_; Arts __; Information Services __; Transportation _X_; Mutual Aid __; Fire Management __; Planning _X_; Tourism _X_; Community Relations __;

Other ____________________________

Prepared by: Joe Alston Date posted: 8/5/03
Phone: 928-638-7945

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The Edith, secured in trailer for transfer
The Edith being unloaded at the boat conservation lab
Members of the GCNPF staff and advisory committee
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