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2008 Collaborative Management of Glen Canyon Dam: The Elevation of Social Engineering Over Law

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The operation of Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River affects several downstream resources and water uses including water supply for consumptive uses in Arizona, California, and Nevada, hydroelectric power

The operation of Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River affects several downstream resources and water uses including water supply for consumptive uses in Arizona, California, and Nevada, hydroelectric power production, endangered species of native fish, recreational angling for non-native fish, and recreational boating in the Grand Canyon. Decisions about the magnitude and timing of water releases through the dam involve trade-offs between these resources and uses. The numerous laws affecting dam operations create a hierarchy of legal priorities that should govern these decisions. At the top of the hierarchy are mandatory requirements for water storage and delivery and for conservation of endangered species. Other resources and water uses have lower legal priorities. The Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program ("AMP") has substituted collaborative decision making among stakeholders for the hierarchy of priorities created by law. The AMP has thereby facilitated non-compliance with the Endangered Species Act by the Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the dam, and has effectively given hydroelectric power production and non-native fisheries higher priorities than they are legally entitled to. Adaptive management is consistent with the laws governing operation of Glen Canyon Dam, but collaborative decision making is not. Nor is collaborative decision making an essential, or even logical, component of adaptive management. As implemented in the case of Glen Canyon Dam, collaborative decision making has actually stifled adaptive management by making agreement among stakeholders a prerequisite to changes in the operation of the dam. This Article proposes a program for adaptive, but not collaborative, management of Glen Canyon Dam that would better conform to the law and would be more amenable to adaptation and experimentation than would the current, stakeholder-centered program.

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  • 2008-07-18

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2015 Surprise and Opportunity for Learning in Grand Canyon: the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program

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With a focus on resources of the Colorado River ecosystem below Glen Canyon Dam, the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program has included a variety of experimental policy tests, ranging

With a focus on resources of the Colorado River ecosystem below Glen Canyon Dam, the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program has included a variety of experimental policy tests, ranging from manipulation of water releases from the dam to removal of non-native fish within Grand Canyon National Park. None of these field-scale experiments has yet produced unambiguous results in terms of management prescriptions. But there has been adaptive learning, mostly from unanticipated or surprising resource responses relative to predictions from ecosystem modeling. Surprise learning opportunities may often be viewed with dismay by some stakeholders who might not be clear about the purpose of science and modeling in adaptive management. However, the experimental results from the Glen Canyon Dam program actually represent scientific successes in terms of revealing new opportunities for developing better river management policies. A new long-term experimental management planning process for Glen Canyon Dam operations, started in 2011 by the U.S. Department of the Interior, provides an opportunity to refocus management objectives, identify and evaluate key uncertainties about the influence of dam releases, and refine monitoring for learning over the next several decades. Adaptive learning since 1995 is critical input to this long-term planning effort. Embracing uncertainty and surprise outcomes revealed by monitoring and ecosystem modeling will likely continue the advancement of resource objectives below the dam, and may also promote efficient learning in other complex programs.

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  • 2015

Vida Sin Agua: Vanishing Water in the Valley of the Sun

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The Colorado River is the lifeblood for seven Basin States including Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, California and Nevada. This water source aided westward expansion and allowed the arid

The Colorado River is the lifeblood for seven Basin States including Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, California and Nevada. This water source aided westward expansion and allowed the arid Southwest to grow. Today, the river is over-allocated resulting in reduced flows. This could lead to water challenges in Arizona and the other Basin states. This river is the single largest entity from which Arizona receives water. Despite this, Arizona is still better situated for water cutbacks than other states like California. Arizona has more than nine million acre-feet of banked underground water and access to other water sources including the Salt and Verde rivers. Government officials are making decisions now that will affect water usage in Arizona for decades and generations to come. Digital media, such as iPad magazines are a good way to reach this technologically savvy generation and engage them concerning important issues. Designing for digital platforms presents unique opportunities. This platform requires solid content and visually appealing design to attract a Millennial audience born between the years 1981 and 1996, according to Pew Research Center. Digital magazines currently present a small segment of the media market, however this segment is growing exponentially. A study by Pew Research Center reports that this slice of the population is interested in consuming the news and emerging technologies such as digital magazines. These are good ways to reach and interest a digitally engaged readership. Reaching this age group is important because the Millennial generation will need to determine the future of the Colorado River and water use in Arizona. To ensure the future of water in the West, this generation needs to "learn about the reality of our water supply, what our real water challenges are and then get engaged and have a voice in what we do about our water planning for the future" (Porter, 2015). DISCLAIMER: The digital magazine was created in InDesign with interactive PDFs, which are best viewed on tablets. Screenshots of the magazine are included to demonstrate the magazine.

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  • 2016-05

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The roles of erosion rate and rock strength in the evolution of canyons along the Colorado River

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For this dissertation, three separate papers explore the study areas of the western Grand Canyon, the Grand Staircase (as related to Grand Canyon) and Desolation Canyon on the Green River

For this dissertation, three separate papers explore the study areas of the western Grand Canyon, the Grand Staircase (as related to Grand Canyon) and Desolation Canyon on the Green River in Utah.

In western Grand Canyon, I use comparative geomorphology between the Grand Canyon and the Grand Wash Cliffs (GWC). We propose the onset of erosion of the GWC is caused by slip on the Grand Wash Fault that formed between 18 and 12 million years ago. Hillslope angle and channel steepness are higher in Grand Canyon than along the Grand Wash Cliffs despite similar rock types, climate and base level fall magnitude. These experimental controls allow inference that the Grand Canyon is younger and eroding at a faster rate than the Grand Wash Cliffs.

The Grand Staircase is the headwaters of some of the streams that flow into Grand Canyon. A space-for-time substitution of erosion rates, supported by landscape simulations, implies that the Grand Canyon is the result of an increase in base level fall rate, with the older, slower base level fall rate preserved in the Grand Staircase. Our data and analyses also support a younger, ~6-million-year estimate of the age of Grand Canyon that is likely related to the integration of the Colorado River from the Colorado Plateau to the Basin and Range. Complicated cliff-band erosion and its effect on cosmogenic erosion rates are also explored, guiding interpretation of isotopic data in landscapes with stratigraphic variation in quartz and rock strength.

Several hypotheses for the erosion of Desolation Canyon are tested and refuted, leaving one plausible conclusion. I infer that the Uinta Basin north of Desolation Canyon is eroding slowly and that its form represents a slow, stable base level fall rate. Downstream of Desolation Canyon, the Colorado River is inferred to have established itself in the exhumed region of Canyonlands and to have incised to near modern depths prior to the integration of the Green River and the production of relief in Desolation Canyon. Analysis of incision and erosion rates in the region suggests integration is relatively recent.

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  • 2016