The Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon, It has been a locale for human use and occupation for millennia, with ruins and artifacts from inhabitants dating back nearly 12,000 years, In the early 1800s, trappers and expeditions sent by the U.S. government began to explore and map the canyon. It was first afforded Federal protection in 1893 as a Forest Reserve and later a National Monument, achieving National Park
In the early 1800s, trappers and expeditions sent by the U.S. government began to explore and map the Southwest, including the canyon. Although first afforded Federal protection in 1893 as a Forest Reserve and later as a National Monument, the Grand Canyon did not achieve National Park status until 1919, three years after the creation of the National Park Service.
The Grand Canyon has been home to Native Americans for thousands of years. About 10,000 years ago, paleo-hunters were known to have hunted big game throughout the area. More recently, hunter-gathers lived in the area until about 1000 BC. Archaeological findings, such as pottery found in the canyon, have been carbon dated to 4000 years ago.
Ancestral Puebloan people moved in around 500 AD. They cultivated corn, hunted bighorn sheep, rabbits, and deer, and made intricate baskets. Their basket making skills lead archaeologists to call these people “basket makers.”
The park contains nearly 2,000 ancestral Puebloan sites including the impressive Tusayan Pueblo which was built in 1185 AD. By the late 1200s, the early Grand Canyon Native Americans abandoned their homes. Some speculate that an extended drought prompted this mass exodus.
In the 1300s, the Cerbat (ancestors of today’s Havasupai and Hualapai Tribes) people moved in along with the Southern Paiutes. A century later would see the Navajo and the Dine (relatives of the Apache) people settling in and around the canyon. Today, the Navajo’s reservation is located along the eastern section of the Grand Canyon.
By the late 19th century, the conservation movement was increasing national interest in preserving natural wonders like the Grand Canyon. National Parks in Yellowstone and around Yosemite Valley were established by the early 1890s. U.S. Senator Benjamin Harrison introduced a bill in 1887 to establish a national park at the Grand Canyon. The bill died in committee, but on February 20, 1893, Harrison (then President of the United States) declared the Grand Canyon to be a National Forest Preserve. Mining and logging were allowed, but the designation did offer some protection.
President Theodore Roosevelt visited the Grand Canyon in 1903. An avid outdoorsman and staunch conservationist, he established the Grand Canyon Game Preserve on November 28, 1906. Livestock grazing was reduced, but predators such as mountain lions, eagles, and wolves were eradicated. Roosevelt added adjacent national forest lands and re-designated the preserve a U.S. National Monument on January 11, 1908. Opponents, such as holders of land and mining claims, blocked efforts to reclassify the monument as a National Park for 11 years. Grand Canyon National Park was finally established as the 17th U.S. National Park by an Act of Congress signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson on February 26, 1919.
Bisbee Daily Review
Bisbee, Arizona Oct 18, 1905
Twenty-nine American bison, the last remnant of their race, were in Los Angeles recently for transportation to the Grand Canyon Reserve, where it is hoped they will multiply, and the almost extinct buffalo again be made numerous.
It is probable that these buffalo will not be placed where they will be easily accessible to sightseers at the Grand Canyon, for the reason that good results cannot be obtained if they are constantly under the eye of the curious.
These animals are the property of “Buffalo” Jones, who has made a study of the habits of the bison four a quarter of a century, and who has done much to prevent the species from becoming extinct.
Fully twenty years ago, out in western Kansas “Buffalo” Jones began the work of gathering into one common herd the remaining specimens of the buffalo to be found on the Western plains. There Dodge city, he established a buffalo domain and there first began his experiments in the crossbreeding of the bison with domestic cattle.
It was there that the animals known as the cattelo the cross-breed, was proven to be a Hardy animal, well fitted for the semi-arid and stock grazing countries of the western states.
It is the idea of Jones that these cattelo may become of much use and that they may fill a need not exactly met by the ordinary breed of western cattle.
The buffalo in Los Angeles were shipped from Monterrey Mexico. They had been roaming a large preserve many miles back from that point, and were on the way to their new grounds, where it is hoped they will increase.
In the herd are three handsome bulls. They had become much bewildered by all the noise and confusion of car travel and to the engines, clanging bells and grinding wheels, and they have lost much of their restlessness which shows itself out of captivity. But even now, it is said they are easily stampeded.
THE GRAND CANON NATIONAL GAME PRESERVE Zoological Society Jan 1907
Even to most persons who are interested in conservation work it will be fresh news that in northern Arizona the Government has established a game and forest preserve equal in scenic wonders as well as in area to the Yellowstone National Park. It is called the Grand Canyon National Game Preserve, and it consists of the Kaibab Plateau and Buckskin Mountain on the north, the first portion of the canyon of the Colorado, and also a great area southward there of. It contains, in round numbers, 2,019,000 acres, or 3311 square miles. It includes all of the area formerly comprising the “Grand Canyon National Monument,” and fully twice as much more.
The country south of the Colorado Canyon is comparatively well known, but to most Americans the Kaibab Plateau is a veritable terra incognita. It is in that wild and rugged region of broken country, rocks, hills, valleys, brush and a splendid pine-clad mountain plateau looming up over all, that “Buffalo” Jones has located his herd of American bison and “cattaloes,” for his latest experiment in breeding a valuable strain of bison blood into range cattle. Fortunately for those interested, there has recently been published about that region a book of thrilling interest. It is Zane Gray’s “Last of
the Plainsmen,” published by the Outing Publishing Company. It is valuable as a general view of a wild and almost unknown region, and also as a record of the almost incredible exploits of Mr. Jones in catching alive nine pumas, by strength of nerve, arm and lasso !
Already the Grand Canon Preserve contains a few mountain sheep, many mule deer, and far too many “mountain lions.” Buckskin Mountain and its environs would make a fine sanctuary for elk, but it would be necessary to introduce them. The lower slopes would graze ten thousand bison, but very few persons would ever see them. With the lapse of time and ‘cattaloes’ it will be in order for the National Government to purchase outright the pure-blood bison of Mr. Jones and his partners, and let them alone where they are, to found another national herd.
Bisbee Daily Review
Bisbee Az. Feb 7 1911
ANTELOPE ARE RECEIVED AT REFUGE
In the Wichita and the Grand Canyon game refuges the government has not left the matter of caring for game protection wholly to the states, but has established national reservations on which an attempt will be made to breed game. The Wichita is notable for the fact that it has a small herd of buffalo upon it which the game Warden regards as the apple of his eye. They were donated by the American Bison Society and shipped from the New York zoological garden in 1908. They then numbered 15, and have since been increased by the addition of 10 calves two of the original herd, however, died in the first year. To the buffaloes are now added the antelope.
Arizona Daily Sun
Tucson, Arizona Oct 13 1911
The national game preserves, which are administered generally by the department of agricultural, comprise the Wichita and Grand Canyon preserves in Oklahoma and Arizona, and the national bison range in Montana, and were set aside by special acts of Congress. As indicated by their names they are established primary for the protection of game. The Wichita game preserve has an area of approximately 57,000 acres, 12,000 acres of which is fenced buffalo pasture, and about 20,000 acres are enclosed by a substantial wire fence.
The executive departments of the government have been doing their best to get Congress to preserve big-game of the United States with a view not only to numbers but to variety. (the rest is on bird sanctuary’s)
Grand Canyon National Park, Along With Yellowstone, Has Bison Problems
Yellowstone National Park isn’t the only national
park with bison issues. Far to the south, Grand Canyon National Park officials are trying to better manage bison on the park’s North Rim. Actually, they’re trying to get the animals off the park’s property on the North Rim.
The root of the problem dates back more than a century, to 1906, when a rancher by the name of Charles “Buffalo” Jones bought some bison to breed with his cows with hopes of producing “a superior, more robust breed of livestock, the ‘cattalo.'”
Unfortunately for Buffalo Jones, the experiment was a failure. But not all the resulting “cattaloes” were removed from the federal lands on the Kaibab Plateau. Today, the descendants of this hybrid group are managed by the Arizona Game and Fish Department as wild game, with a limited hunting season each year.
Unfortunately for the Park Service, since 2000 these hybrid bison have moved from the U.S. Forest Service lands up onto the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. “The herd now numbers more than 400 head, with the majority staying within park boundaries year round,” park officials note. “Unfortunately these extremely large grazing animals are fouling sensitive and critical water sources, trampling and removing delicate vegetation, and compacting fragile soils.”
During a teleconference Wednesday with reporters, Grand Canyon Superintendent Dave Uberuaga said the cow-bison hybrids have caused grazing problems on the park’s North Rim, impacts to lakeshores, and “there’s been some archaeological impacts as well.”
With hopes of reaching a solution to this problem, Grand Canyon officials are initiating a public scoping period for a bison management plan. Possible solutions range from fencing out the animals to culling, as is done in parks with elk population problems, such as Rocky Mountain National Park.
Genetically, these animals are nothing special, according to a list of “Frequently Asked Questions” the Park Service prepared. While officials on the conference call Wednesday couldn’t break down, percentage-wise, the genetic makeup of these hybrids, the FAQ sheet noted that, “Recent genetic testing indicates the current population continues to have historic cattle genetics, though no outward physical characteristics of cattle have been observed in over 20 years. Genetic science also indicates that these bison do not possess the highly diverse or unique genetics for furthering the conservation of the species, compared to other wild bison herds.”
Still, there are proponents for allowing the animals to remain on the North Rim inside the park.
“Cattle genes are now ubiquitous in North American bison: small amounts of cattle genes are found in the majority of national, state and private bison herds in the United States. While some of those bison are domesticated, others are wild despite gene contamination,” reads an op-ed piece that ran in the Arizona Daily Sun. “The Grand Canyon herd should be genetically tested, and their behavior studied. Individuals of the Grand Canyon herd with excessive gene contamination or strong domestic behavior could be eliminated. Doing so would present a rare opportunity for Grand Canyon National Park to contribute to the genetic heritage of the America bison.”
Nevertheless, Superintendent Uberuaga said the Park Service would like to see an agreement “to move them off park lands, onto Forest Service lands where they would be able to be huntable wildlife.”
The first opportunity to begin to craft such a management plan will be during a 60-day public scoping period beginning when the Notice of Intent is published in the Federal Register. Scoping will provide the public and other interested parties the opportunity to participate early in identifying the range of issues to be considered when the NPS studies the potential environmental impacts of managing bison in the park; to identify topics and concerns that should be addressed in the EIS; and to bring forward any new information that NPS may not be aware of that would be useful in preparing the plan and EIS.