FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The Bureau of Reclamation and the National Park Service (NPS) have begun to develop a Long-Term Experimental and Management Plan (LTEMP) for managing Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River over the next 15 to 20 years.
The public process opened on Nov. 7 and is the first comprehensive review of Glen Canyon Dam operations in 15 years.
The review is to ensure that flow regimes on the Colorado River meet goals of supplying water for communities, agriculture and industry, and protecting the resources of the Grand Canyon, while providing hydropower.
The second of six public meetings was held Nov. 8 in Flagstaff. The remaining meetings will be conducted jointly by Reclamation and the NPS, and will take place in Las Vegas, Nev.; and Lakewood, Colo. The long-term plan will determine the timing and volume of water flows from Glen Canyon Dam. Those flows affect hydroelectricity production, recreation, native fish and other river-related plants and animals, as well as archeological sites in Grand Canyon National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
The LTEMP will be developed based on public input and the latest science. The purpose of the plan is to use current and newly developed scientific information to improve and protect resources in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Grand Canyon National Park, while also complying with relevant laws, including the 1992 Grand Canyon Protection Act, the Law of the River, and the Endangered Species Act. The plan 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.
The Bureau of Reclamation and NPS will co-lead the environmental impact statement - Reclamation has primary responsibility for operation of Glen Canyon Dam and the 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," said Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Anne Castle, who chairs the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Work Group. "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."
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said the Colorado River is the lifeblood of communities across the western United States.
"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," Salazar said. "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 public meetings announced Oct. 17 are part of the "public scoping" phase of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. Public scoping gives interested individuals and groups the opportunity to comment on a proposed action, recommend alternatives, and to identify and prioritize the issues to be considered in the EIS analyses. Scoping is the earliest, but not the last, opportunity for people to provide input on the Glen Canyon Dam LTEMP EIS.
More information on the meetings can be found on the project web site at www.ltempeis.anl.gov.