6/18/2013 10:09:00 AM New route bypasses rancher's Skywalk road block Hualapai move to re-establish quickest way to Skywalk
Hualapai Tribe Chairwoman Sherry Counts, left, and Mohave County Supervisor Joy Brotherton review documents outside of the Kingman Bureau of Land Management office last week. Submitted photo
Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa Special to the Observer
KINGMAN, Ariz. - Hualapai Council Chairwoman Sherry Counts praised federal and local officials Tuesday for their help in getting permits to build a dirt bypass around a roadblock on Diamond Bar Road that a local built during a dispute.
"These elected officials took a stand for tourism and for the safety of all visitors to the Grand Canyon," Counts said. "On behalf of the Hualapai people - and the thousands of tourists who come to this region every day - I'm very grateful for their leadership."
The tribal council sent letters pleading for help to U.S. Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Flagstaff and Paul Gosar, R-Prescott. Several members of the tribe also pleaded with the Mohave County Board of Supervisors to intervene last week.
"I'm very happy. At least for now, people will be able to go to work and tourists will be able to visit the area," said Mohave County District 4 Supervisor Joy Brotherton.
Diamond Bar Road is the shortest route to Grand Canyon West and the Skywalk from Las Vegas. The only other route to the tourism attraction is another hour and a half away down Buck and Doe Road in Peach Springs.
The tribe needed permits to build and use a temporary dirt road on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in order to bypass a roadblock that Grand Canyon Ranch owner Nigel Turner built. The Kingman BLM Office granted the tribe a three-year temporary permit Tuesday morning for the road.
Turner is protesting the permit, saying BLM issued it without going through the proper protocols, such as completing an environmental impact assessment and accepting public comments.
He also said in a news release Tuesday that Diamond Bar Road is open and a temporary easement is not necessary.
Turner put up a roadblock in May and started charging motorists an "activity fee" of $20 for adults, $10 for children and $500 for tour buses to cross his property on the old road alignment.
The fee included access to activities on his ranch and helped pay for the liability of having people cross his private property, Turner said.
He claims the Hualapai Tribe is not following the stipulations set down in a 2007 settlement agreement that protects his guests and the environment during the construction of a new Diamond Bar Road alignment. He closed the road to all traffic two weeks ago.
Turner previously vowed to keep it closed until all road construction equipment is removed from his land and the tribe sits down with him to discuss the new road plans.
The Hualapai Tribe has been trying to improve Diamond Bar Road for the last 10 years.
It recently obtained money to finish paving the last nine miles of the 14-mile road and started construction on a new alignment of the road in April.