Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced that the Bureau of Reclamation and the National Park Service are starting the development of a Long-Term Experimental and Management Plan (LTEMP) for Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River.
The public process being launched today will be the first comprehensive review of Glen Canyon Dam operations in fifteen years, and will ensure that flow regimes on the Colorado River meet the goals of supplying water for communities, agriculture and industry, and protecting the resources of the Grand Canyon, while providing clean hydropower.
“The Colorado River is the lifeblood of communities across the West, and its water is vital to the health of our lands and wildlife, to powering our communities, to feeding our families, and to the ecosystem of one of our national treasures,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “We need to make use of the latest science to develop and implement a structured, long-term management plan for the Glen Canyon Dam that adheres to the Law of the River, respects the interests of the tribal nations, and sustains the health of the Grand Canyon and the communities that depend on its water, consistent with the Grand Canyon Protection Act.”
The LTEMP, which will be developed based on public input and the latest science, will guide the development of future experimental and management actions as part of the ongoing Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program (AMP.) The LTEMP will consider potential future modifications to Glen Canyon Dam operations and other resource management and protection action. It will also determine if a Recovery Implementation Program under the Endangered Species Act will be undertaken for endangered fish species below the dam.
Secretary Salazar noted that considerable scientific information has been developed since the Adaptive Management Program first began in 1996. All scientific studies and experimentation – particularly the new information developed since the AMP – will be considered in preparing the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the LTEMP.
Reclamation and the National Park Service will co-lead the LTEMP EIS. Reclamation has primary responsibility for operation of Glen Canyon Dam and the National Park Service has primary responsibility for Grand Canyon National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
“We need to balance a very complex set of interests, but it is essential that we do so in order to protect both the unparalleled resources of one of our country’s world heritage sites and the benefits provided by the Colorado River which provides essential water and power to the American Southwest,” said Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, Anne Castle, who chairs the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Work Group. “We will build upon the good science and experimentation that has been ongoing through the Adaptive Management Program and put together a plan that incorporates that knowledge, but leaves flexibility for future adaptation.”
“The LTEMP will incorporate the results of ongoing environmental analyses that establish a protocol for high flow releases from Glen Canyon Dam and investigate alternative methods of non-native fish control,” added Interior’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Rachel Jacobson. “The partnership between Reclamation and the National Park Service is essential as we evaluate the science gathered over the past fifteen years and develop a plan for the future operation of Glen Canyon Dam.”
Federal, state and Tribal governmental agencies will have the opportunity to become cooperating agencies in the EIS. Public meetings will be held later in the year to solicit comments on the scope of the LTEMP EIS and the issues and alternatives that should be analyzed. That information will be added to input received from the Adaptive Management Work Group. The meeting schedule and the period for receiving written comments will be announced at a later time.
Additional information, including a full copy of the Notice of Intent published today in the Federal Register, can be viewed here. The notice includes background information on Glen Canyon Dam, a summary of activities since 1996, the Grand Canyon Protection Act, and the “Purpose and Need for Action” for the upcoming EIS.