Matching Items (8)
- Creators: Schmidt, John C.
- Creators: Grams, Paul
- Member of: Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program Administrative History
- Status: Published
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.
Restoration of riverine ecosystems is often stated as a management objective for regulated rivers, and floods are one of the most effective tools for accomplishing restoration. The National Re- search Council (NRC 1992) argued that ecological restoration means re- turning "an ecosystem to a close approximation of its condition prior to disturbance" and that "restoring altered, damaged, O f destroyed lakes, rivers, and wetlands is a high-priority task." Effective restoration must be based on a clear definition of the value of riverine resources to society; on scientific studies that document ecosystem status and provide an understanding of ecosystem processes and resource interactions; on scientific studies that predict, mea- sure, and monitor the effectiveness of restoration techniques; and on engineering and economic studies that evaluate societal costs and benefits of restoration.
In the case of some large rivers, restoration is not a self-evident goal. Indeed, restoration may be impossible; a more feasible goal may be rehabilitation of some ecosystem components and processes in parts of the river (Gore and Shields 1995, Kondolfand Wilcock 1996, Stanford et al. 1996). In other cases, the appropriate decision may be to do nothing. The decision to manipulate ecosystem processes and components involves not only a scientific judgment that a restored or rehabilitated condition is achievable, but also a value judgment that this condition is more desirable than the status quo. These judgments involve prioritizing different river resources, and they should be based on extensive and continuing public debate.
In this article, we examine the appropriate role of science in determining whether or not to restore or rehabilitate the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon by summarizing studies carried out by numerous agencies, universities, and consulting firms since 1983. This reach of the Colorado extends 425 km between Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Mead reservoir (Figure 1). Efforts to manipulate ecosystem processes and components in the Grand Canyon have received widespread public attention, such as the 1996 controlled flood released from Glen Canyon Dam and the proposal to drain Lake Powell reservoir.
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.
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.