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6/4/2013 6:00:00 AM
Tribe pleads: Stop 'outrageous' Skywalk toll road
Mohave officials take no action Monday, will meet with both sides
L-R: Sherry Counts, Jennifer Turner
L-R: Sherry Counts, Jennifer Turner

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - Members of the Hualapai Tribe pleaded with the Mohave County Board of Supervisors Monday to do something about a local businessman who is charging visitors to the Skywalk a toll to cross his property.

"This toll is outrageous," said Hualapai Chairwoman Sherry Counts. "It has caused harassment and intimidated our visitors. This needs to be worked out in a reasonable way."

Nigel Turner, the owner of Grand Canyon Ranch, has been charging $20 per person, $10 per child and $500 for each tour bus that uses Diamond Bar Road to cross his ranch. The tolls were in effect for the weekend of May 18 and the Memorial Day weekend.

He says the money compensates him for the damage to his property caused by visitors to the Hualapai Tribe's Grand Canyon West tourist attraction, which includes the Skywalk, a glass walkway that juts out from the edge of the Grand Canyon.

Because the topic was brought up during the Board's call to the public, the supervisors were unable to respond to tribal members.

Turner's actions are affecting the tribe, the city of Kingman and the rest of Mohave County, she said. Visitors stay in local hotels and eat at local restaurants. The whole incident is creating a negative image of Mohave County and Grand Canyon West in the minds of visitors, she said.

"I ask that you place an injunction on Grand Canyon Ranch," Counts said. "We have a long history of working together. Please assist us."

"It's cost us around $100,000 in toll fees," said Jennifer Turner, the CEO of the Hualapai Tribe's Grand Canyon Resort Corp. The tribe has its own fleet of tour busses that make the drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon West. That figure doesn't include tourists who drive themselves to Grand Canyon West or tour buses that are operate independently of the tribe, she said.

Turner said she was also disappointed in how Mohave County Sheriff's deputies were handling the situation. Mohave County Sheriff's Office deputies were posted at the entrance to Turner's toll road both weekends. Turner has also hired private security officers to assist in collecting tolls.

"We met with county staff three weeks ago and were told that the county would back us up. The following week, things changed 180 degrees," said Erin Forrest, the Hualapai Tribe's engineer for the construction of Diamond Bar Road. "This has been an ongoing battle with Mr. Turner. Why are the traveling public being penalized? They're totally innocent. It leaves a bad taste in peoples' mouths."

Turner sued the county, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 2004 over the original plans to pave Diamond Bar Road. He claimed the increased traffic to Grand Canyon West would damage his business, as well as wildlife and local flora. The lawsuit was settled in 2007 with Turner receiving around $750,000 in exchange for a new road right of way and some concessions such as underpasses for cattle and horseback riders.

For Boulder City, Nev. tour operator Brenda Halvorson, the tolls are an increase in the cost of doing business that she can't recoup from her customers. She promotes tours for her companies - Papillion Airways, Grand Canyon/Scenic Airlines, Grand Canyon Helicopters and Grand Canyon Coaches - nationally and internationally. She already has around 40,000 passengers signed up for the year who have paid in advance.

"It's costing me $500 per bus," she said. "That's not included in the price of my tours. This is starting to damage my reputation."

Supervisor Joy Brotherton said after the meeting that she wanted to see all the information regarding the situation before making a comment. She said she plans to add the issue to the next Board agenda and invite both sides to attend.

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Related Stories:
• Turner closes Skywalk road, gets arrested for alleged threats
• Mediation try on toll road to Skywalk fails

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Article comment by: nnp .....

If 85% of the Skywalk visitors are from China, then the Hualapai tribe should hire a couple of greeter/tour guides who are fluent in Chinese. It would be good for business, and in fact, the employees' wages would probably be offset quite easily by increased purchases at that site (another idea, Hualapais - do some homework, and find out what foods/gifts Chinese folks prefer, then market these at the Skywalk facility). Íf you want to humour them wit a little joke at the end of their visit, just remind them that none of their conversations were bugged. You'll probably get some nervous laughter out of them.

Posted: Monday, June 10, 2013
Article comment by: Skywalk Vendor

I see a lot of people complaining about what the tribe charges people for admission to the Skywalk Bridge. 85% of Skywalk tourist are from China, a country that has lined it's pockets with American jobs. Everybody shops at Walmart and contributes to China's economy so quit complaining about the admission fees when these people are not hurting for money.
Nigel Turner is just mad because nobody takes an interest in his ranch.

Posted: Sunday, June 9, 2013
Article comment by: Tribe, Bring in the Feds Under Civil Rights Violations

This is madness. If this road has been turned over to the county, then it is a public access road.

This Turner guy needs to be arrested along with all those "private security" people.

This area has long had a reputation as rip off city. Auto repair scams are well known. Now tourists are being shaken down. What image is one left when they are confronted with men with guns blocking the road demanding a "toll". I wonder what would happen if the tribe sent its tribal police in great numbers and "escorted" these vehicles through this road block. Perhaps then Sheehan would act. Shame on Sheehan and the county attorney for allowing this.

Posted: Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Article comment by: Patriot WES

How is it the "Tribe" can show up to complain to the BOS, but couldn't show up to Federal Court to defend themselves? Seems as if the "Tribe" doesn't want to pay for anything or uphold their side of a signed contract. really don't feel sorry for them. They are getting what they deserve.

Posted: Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Article comment by: Wait A Minute

This isn't just about the tourists, the prices that are charged or that ranch. This is also about the employees. What about all the employees that throw there paychecks into the kingman stores week after week? You kingman people should stand behind us and support the workers as we go though this, it effects this entire county. Maybe we are scared. Have you thought about that?

Posted: Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Article comment by: Buck & Doe

If the tribe is so concerned why don't they post signs outside his property advising to turn around and go through Buck and Doe road out past Truxton? Do they not want the dust and dirt that Turner is getting at his place?

Posted: Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Article comment by: Ernest Matthews

the tripe rips everyone off so Good for the toll.

Posted: Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Article comment by: Teapot Tempast

Seems to me that the Indian nation should have the right of access to their lands. Therefore it seems to me that eminent domain proceedings should be enacted if there is no reasonable solution to the problem through negotiation.

I recall years ago when living in California that people living in beach homes along the Pacific coast tried to prevent folks from crossing their properties to the beaches. This resulted in a law which authorized access to all California beaches regardless of ownership unless the owners provided means of access.

Posted: Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Article comment by: Santa Fe Jay

I have never been to the "SkyWalk", but I have heard that it is expensive, not worth the drive or entry fee you must pay to go onto it. The biggest reason I have not gone however is that I have been told you can not bring your own camera. You must use a "Tribe" photographer and pay big $$$ for a that's outrageous ! Seems like the tribe is all for charging for long as they get the money. I must support Mr. Turner on this one.

Posted: Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Article comment by: Just A. Citizen

Who's complaining here? The Tribe?
Isn't that the same Tribe that stiffed the Skywalk developer for something like $30 million? Isn't that the same Tribe that never argued the money wasn't owed, they just said they weren't going to pay it, and no entity had the jurisdiction to make them.
Take an awful lot of tolls to balance the books on that one.

Posted: Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Article comment by: got land

I see nothing wrong with the property owner trying to recoup his losses caused by the traffic through his property. If it was mine the right of way would never have happened or a toll would have been induced at the time the road was first accessed by tourists.

Posted: Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Article comment by: Canyon Dweller

Please stop Mr Tuners "outrageous" fees say the Hualapai,,,as they are affecting our ability to charge even MORE OUTRAGEOUS fees to visit the skywalk, eat the diner, and use the porto potties

Posted: Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Article comment by: Jack a Lope

lets see, you get a court order that states what it is you are to do. You decide you dont have enough money to do what it was you were told to do. You then tell the owner of the property, to bad this is what you are getting. The owner decides that since you broke the contract he is going to charge you to use his property.
Now you complain and use the excuse that he is blocking your customers.
You broke the agreement.

Posted: Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Article comment by: Jim Byrne

The Hualapai tribe charges a very high fee to visit the Skywalk. They could pay the toll fee out of that. Also they call the toll unfair. How unfair was it to break the contract with the builder of the Skywalk?

Posted: Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Article comment by: V Stokes

" Visitors stay in local hotels and eat at local restaurants."

Horse hockey. They bus them from LV and they bus them back the same day. The only thing we see here is the buses that stop at Wally World on the larger tours and the occasional visitor who is doing a cross country trip or wants to see the REAL Grand Canyon.

"This needs to be worked out in a reasonable way." How many chances has there been for that since 2007? Was the same thing said to Mr Jin just before Imminent Domain was invoked?

Posted: Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Article comment by: Karma can hurt!

It seems the tribe had no problem in withholding payment from Mr Gin now, they are crying because the landowner is exacting a toll on his land use. I don't blame him one bit. The tribe has proven time and again that they are difficult to deal with and not always honest in paying their debts. He may as well "get his" while he can. The Skywalk has been a fiasco from day one- I think it should just be shut down.

Posted: Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Article comment by: whoa nelly

well mohave county both nigel turner and the hualapai tribe both contribute to the local economy, LOCAL ECONOMY. aren't you happy about that? just something to think about. i stay in kingman, eat in kingman, get gas in kingman and prefer local stores rather than the big companies, because i'm from mohave county. get on board, board of supervisors...

Posted: Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Article comment by: CEO IS NOT WELL INFORMED

CEO Turner clearly has not been involved with this matter out on Diamond Bar Rd. It is shameful that she would speak lies about the Sheriffs involvement. If she would a few minutes to talk to those who have been involved, she would know the truth.

Posted: Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Article comment by: Proud Kingmanite

I'm in agreement with the tribe that a toll road will "intimidate" and drive off business, but I would be remiss in neglecting to mention that something else hurts business too...ridiculously high prices!

Nope. When I go to The Grand Canyon, I'll stick with the North Rim every time.

Posted: Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Article comment by: Frances Perkins

Greed rules the day on both sides. The County should be taking the side of open County roads. Would the County allow any land owner in a dispute over a right of way start charging a toll? I remember Sam Standifer claimed Anson Smith was private property and wanted to block its off. Could he have charged a toll? But we don't need arrogance from Mt. Pleasant either.

Posted: Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Article comment by: Leagal Beagle

Mr. Turner is well within his right to charge a tresspass fee to anyone he allows to cross his private property.

If the Hualapai Tribe doesn't like it then maybe they should stand behind the agreement they signed in 2007 or buy a right of way from someone else.

The IRS will be more than happy to share Mr. Turners new found wealth.

Posted: Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Article comment by: Capt. Nice

I find it amusing that the tribe is complaining about some one gigging the public like they are doing.
From what I hear the tribe practically charges the people for the air they breath while at the sky walk, but let some one else horn in and it just isn't fair.
The tribe will get their way as always when they find a liberal judge but I think the whole thing is quite funny.
It does sound as though the rancher has been paid for the right of way and how he can charge a toll is beyond me, but evidently he found a loop hole.

Posted: Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Article comment by: Vince Demarco

Are these people kidding? Why don't they take a look at themselves in the mirror before judging others. I had a visitor from Canada and we took the ride to the skywalk through the dirt roads trees and rocks only to get there and be told it would be around $150 for both of us to get in. That's totally outrageous.

Posted: Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Article comment by: The Fox Hound

This is just crazy not only is this a county road but Mr Turner has already been compensated to the tune of 750k. This is a clear case of the sheriff not doing his job plus allowing his officers to work for someone who has been paid for access. What did the public get for the 750k if not access. I got a feeling that if the skywalk belonged to some white person this would not be happening. It's time to end this racist action against a people who have been treated badly for hundreds of years. You should be ashamed of yourself Sheriff.

Posted: Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Article comment by: RANDY RUBLE

The tolls should stay they didn't meet their end of an agreed bargain...
The cost of $85.00 for the package is outrageous that's the same as going to Disneyland but less excitement!!!

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