Southern Paiute Participation in the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program
The Grand Canyon Protection Act of 1992 directed the Secretary of the Interior to establish and implement long-term monitoring programs and activities to ensure the Glen Canyon Dam is operated "... in such a manner as to protect, mitigate adverse impacts to, and improve the values for which Grand Canyon National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area were established, including, but not limited to natural and cultural resources and visitor use."
The Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program GCDAMP was established in 1997 to provide for long-term research and monitoring of resources downstream from the dam. The scientific information obtained under the Adaptive Management Program is used as the basis for recommendations for dam operations and management actions. The Southern Paiute Consortium (SPC) participates in the GCDAMP to ensure that Southern Paiute people remain aware of decisions that affect the operations of the dam and to share Southern Paiute perspectives with decision makers.
The SPC monitoring program attempts to meet the needs of the GCDAMP, the focus of which is the Colorado River and lands on either side of the river, but within the boundaries of a potential 300,000 cfs (cubic feet per second) flood. This flood level was estimated based on the volume of the highest historical flood on record and also reflects the maximum release level possible from Glen Canyon Dam, combined with a hypothetical 40,000-cfs flood event from the Little Colorado River and other tributary streams. At the same time, the SPC seeks to address its own needs to understand what is happening to the entire cultural landscape of the Colorado River Corridor, including that which lies beyond the 300,000 cfs limit.
Any attempt to summarize the many elements of concern to Southern Paiutes within the area of potential impact of Glen Canyon Dam risks oversimplification. The Southern Paiutes consider the whole region in and around Grand Canyon as an indivisible Traditional Cultural Property. In addition, no individual site can be evaluated according to a single criterion, for example as strictly an archaeological feature, or simply as an area where culturally important plants grow. Thus, the SPC monitoring program incorporates sites that illustrate a range of features, impacts, and responses to dam operations. Taken together, the data gathered through the program provide information about specific places of concern and also about patterns of effects that demonstrate the fragility, resilience, and complexity of the Colorado River ecosystem. Because time and funding for monitoring are always limited, the SPC has determined that only sites that are particularly susceptible to impacts or are especially sensitive will be monitored on an annual basis. Other sites, at which changes are likely to occur more slowly, are monitored on a rotating basis, generally every three years. A schedule of which sites are to be visited each year is set up five years in advance and is modified as necessary due to changing impacts or priorities.