National Park Club Update

Marie Buck, CEO of WNPA, with Linda Harvey of SBR National Park Club at the presentation on Grand Canyon National Park. (Photo taken by Rob Lonjers)

Linda Harvey

Grand Canyon National Park lends itself to stories filled with adventure and personal experiences for anyone who has been to this natural wonder. Most people see the Grand Canyon from the South Rim or North Rim where the views are magnificent and there are numerous lookouts and historic places to visit along both rims. But there is more to the Grand Canyon than can be seen from either rim.

In January, the SBR National Park Club invited Marie Buck to describe some of the hidden treasures she has encountered that lie below the rim. Marie is the new CEO (since June 2022) of the Western National Park Association (WNPA). Prior to this position, she was chief operating officer of the Grand Canyon Conservancy.

Marie explained that she was first introduced to Grand Canyon National Park by her father, who took her on hiking and camping trips when she was a young girl. After meeting some river rafters one day who agreed to ferry her and her father across the river, Marie and her father decided rafting was indeed a great way to see the canyon. Rafting the river became their goal. After a few trips as passengers, Marie’s dad became part of a crew as he rowed through the rapids. In those days, Marie accompanied her father on the raft and she eventually picked up the skills of running the rapids. So far, she has made more than 30 white water rafting trips down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

Through words and photos, Marie described many of the amazing sights that can be seen by those who raft or hike in the canyon. There are waterfalls, birds, animals, and a silence that can only be found in the solitude of nature. The weather is not always clear and ideal. Sometimes she has experienced monsoon rains and flooding, or extreme heat. The most significant change Marie has encountered through the years is the drop in the level of the Colorado River. Her photos showed how the rapids become more dangerous as rocks become prominent with the low level of water. There have been discussions by the National Park Service (NPS) on whether or not to suspend rafting trips in the canyon.

Marie also spoke about the important work done by the WNPA. The WNPA has provided more than $136 million to the parks it supports through a partnership established in 1938 with the NPS, which is designed to advance interpretation, education, research, and community engagement to ensure national parks are increasingly valued by all. The WNPA supports 71 parks in 12 western states. The headquarters for the WNPA is located in Oro Valley and has a bookstore that is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Special note: Grand Canyon National Park has its own supporting association and is not one of the 71 parks supported by the WNPA.

The SBR National Park Club thanks Marie for coming to share her knowledge and her unique perspective about Grand Canyon National Park.

The club is planning a trip to the Grand Canyon in October. If you are interested, please check out the information on GroupWorks > SBR National Park Club or send an email to [email protected].