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Colorado River Campsite Monitoring, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, 1998–2012

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River rafting trips and hikers use sandbars along the Colorado River in Marble and Grand Canyons as campsites. The U.S. Geological Survey evaluated the effects of Glen Canyon Dam operations on campsite areas on sandbars along the Colorado River in

River rafting trips and hikers use sandbars along the Colorado River in Marble and Grand Canyons as campsites. The U.S. Geological Survey evaluated the effects of Glen Canyon Dam operations on campsite areas on sandbars along the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park. Campsite area was measured annually from 1998 to 2012 at 37 study sites between Lees Ferry and Diamond Creek, Arizona. The primary purpose of this report is to present the methods and results of the project.

Campsite area surveys were conducted using total station survey methods to outline the perimeter of camping area at each study site. Campsite area is defined as any region of smooth substrate (most commonly sand) with no more than an 8 degree slope and little or no vegetation. We used this definition, but relaxed the slope criteria to include steeper areas near boat mooring locations where campers typically establish their kitchens.

The results show that campsite area decreased over the course of the study period, but at a rate that varied by elevation zone and by survey period. Time-series plots show that from 1998 to 2012, high stage-elevation (greater than the 25,000 ft3/s stage-elevation) campsite area decreased significantly, although there was no significant trend in low stage-elevation (15,000–20,000 ft3/s) campsite area. High stage-elevation campsite area increased after the 2004 and 2008 high flows, but decreased in the intervals between high flows. Although no overall trend was detected for low stage-elevation campsite areas, they did increase after high-volume dam releases equal to or greater than about 20,000 ft3/s. We conclude that dam operations have not met the management objectives of the Glen Canyon Adaptive Management program to increase the size of camping beaches in critical and non-critical reaches of the Colorado River between Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Mead.

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2014-07

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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 from manipulation of water releases from the dam to removal

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

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The State of the Colorado River Ecosystem in Grand Canyon: Lessons From 10 Years of Adaptive Ecosystem Management

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The year 2005 marked the 10th anniversary of the completion of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Operation of Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River, USA. A decade of research and monitoring provides an important milestone to

The year 2005 marked the 10th anniversary of the completion of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Operation of Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River, USA. A decade of research and monitoring provides an important milestone to evaluate the effects of dam operations on resources of concern and determine whether or not the desired outcomes are being achieved, or if they are even compatible with one another or not. A comprehensive effort was undertaken to assess the scientific state of knowledge of resources of concern, as identified in the EIS. The result was the first systematic attempt by scientists to conduct an assessment of the changing state of Colorado River ecosystem resources in Grand Canyon over a decadal timeframe. In the EIS, 30 resource attributes are listed along with predictions for how those resources would respond under the Secretary of the Interior’s 1996 Record of Decision, an operating prescription based on the preferred alternative of Modified Low-Fluctuating Flows (MLFF).

Because of a lack of data or subsequent analyses to confirm whether some predictions stated in the EIS were correct, or not, 14 or 47 percent of the outcomes, are essentially unknown. Excluding outcomes that are unclear, then the remaining predictions in the EIS were correct in 7 out of 16 outcomes, or 44 percent of the categories listed. Mixed outcomes occur in 4 out of 16, or 25 percent of the categories, and failed predictions, occur in 5 out of 16, or 31 percent of the categories. As such, less than 50 percent of the outcomes were predicted correctly, underscoring the uncertainties associated with working in a large complex system with few to no long-term data sets. Similar uncertainties are faced by all resource managers charged with ecosystem restoration globally. The acceptability of this kind of uncertainty is influenced by interpretation, societal values, agency missions and mandates, and other factors. However, failure to correctly predict the future, in and of itself, is not deleterious under the paradigm of adaptive management where large uncertainties provide opportunities for learning and adjustment through an iterative process of “learning-by- doing” (Walters and Holling, 1990). Although recent science has documented a continued decline of environmental resources of the Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam, it has also identified options that might still be implemented by managers to achieved desired future conditions in Grand Canyon.

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2007

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The State of the Colorado River Ecosystem in Grand Canyon: A Report of the Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center (1991–2004)

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This report is an important milestone in the effort by the Secretary of the Interior to implement the Grand Canyon Protection Act of 1992 (GCPA; title XVIII, secs. 1801-1809, of Public Law 102-575), the most recent authorizing legislation for Federal

This report is an important milestone in the effort by the Secretary of the Interior to implement the Grand Canyon Protection Act of 1992 (GCPA; title XVIII, secs. 1801-1809, of Public Law 102-575), the most recent authorizing legislation for Federal efforts to protect resources downstream from Glen Canyon Dam. The chapters that follow are intended to provide decision makers and the American public with relevant scientific information about the status and recent trends of the natural, cultural, and recreational resources of those portions of Grand Canyon National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area affected by Glen Canyon Dam operations. Glen Canyon Dam is one of the last major dams that was built on the Colorado River and is located just south of the Arizona-Utah border in the lower reaches of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, approximately 15 mi (24 km) upriver from Grand Canyon National Park (fig. 1). The information presented here is a product of the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program (GCDAMP), a federally authorized initiative to ensure that the primary mandate of the GCPA is met through advances in information and resource management. The U.S. Geological Survey`s (USGS) Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center (GCMRC) has responsibility for the scientific monitoring and research efforts for the program, including the preparation of reports such as this one.

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2005

Paul Grams Oral History

Description

Summary: 

Interview conducted by: Dr. Paul Hirt, Arizona southwestern U.S. state. State University and Jennifer Sweeney, Four East Historical Research, LLC. Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program Administrative History Project. Administered by Arizona southwestern U.S. state. State University Supported by a

Summary: 

Interview conducted by: Dr. Paul Hirt, Arizona southwestern U.S. state. State University and Jennifer Sweeney, Four East Historical Research, LLC. Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program Administrative History Project. Administered by Arizona southwestern U.S. state. State University Supported by a grant from the US Bureau of Reclamation.

Biography: 

Paul Grams has worked directly with the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program (GCDAMP) since 2008, as a program manager and research hydrologist at the Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center (GCMRC). His involvement in Grand Canyon studies goes back to 1991, when he took a Colorado River research trip as part of an undergraduate science course. Grams is an expert on the effects of dams on river geomorphology and sediment transport. He holds a BA in Geology from Middlebury College, an MS in Geology from Utah State University, and a PhD in Geography and Environmental Engineering from Johns Hopkins University.

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2020-01-24