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Havasupai Tribe Temporarily Stops Some Guide Services

(Screen capture via http://www.havasupai-nsn.gov/)
The Havasupai Reservation

The Havasupai Tribe, in Northern Arizona, this week stopped third-party guide services to Havasupai Falls. The tribe says it’s a temporary measure, while it works on the licensing process. Social media, over the past few months, has included photos of, and commentary on the poor condition of some horses used on the trails.

In an interview late last month, Don Watahomigie, chairman of the Havasupai Tribe, said the issue had been overblown.

"Well, just like anyplace else, people will see something out of the ordinary, and most of the pack animals are probably not worth taking pictures, because they’re healthy. But the ones that aren’t are noticed," Watahomigie said.

Watahomigie said tourism is critical to the tribe’s economy, and that the vast majority of the packers are tribal members, including those who are using horses unfit to be on the trails.

"Well, they probably are, but they’re, probably like some people anywhere else," Watahomigie said. "It’s hard to make ends meet, so they’re trying to do the best they can with what they have.

In a statement, the tribe said the new regulations will address issues including permit fees and private pack-animal reservations and eventually all reservations will be made through the tribe’s tourism office.

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Mark Brodie is a co-host of The Show, KJZZ’s locally produced news magazine. Since starting at KJZZ in 2002, Brodie has been a host, reporter and producer, including several years covering the Arizona Legislature, based at the Capitol.