Two months after the end of the latest Grand Canyon flood flow, results were reported to the Technical Working Group of the Grand Canyon Adaptive Management Program by the Glen Canyon Monitoring and Research Center in Phoenix, Arizona last Wednesday.
Although it was hoped that the controlled high water flow would improve habitat for native fish and restore eroded beaches, it was found that just 55% of the target beaches showed improvements, while 36% remained the same and 9% were worse off. 25% of the sediment scientists had hoped to mobilize and distribute with the flood never moved and there is no evidence of improved nursery habitat for native fish.
Since 1963, 95% of sediment inflows to Grand Canyon National Park’s river corridor have been trapped behind Glen Canyon Dam. This has completely transformed habitat conditions for Grand Canyon native fish, leading to the extinction of the Colorado pikeminnow, razorback sucker, bonytail chub and roundtail chub, and the endangerment of the humpback chub.
“Secretary [of the Interior] Salazar claimed that this was going to be ‘A milestone in the history of the Colorado River’, but like the three previous experiments in 1996, 2004 and 2008, it too has shown that at best some beaches are temporarily improved, but the long-term prognosis for the Grand Canyon is a system without sediment,” says Living Rivers Conservation Director John Weisheit.
The November 19th 2012 flood is the first to occur in a ten-year time window that scientist have been granted to experiment with Glen Canyon Dam operations. Additional controlled floods can be attempted if certain conditions are met, mainly the existence of large amounts of sediment entering the Colorado River from two tributary rivers that feed into the upper part of Grand Canyon, the Paria and Little Colorado.
“Far too much public time and money is wasted on preparing for, publicizing, executing and monitoring these useless floods that do nothing but perpetuate a science welfare program masquerading as an endangered species recovery effort,” adds Weisheit. “Scientist know, but won’t publicly state, that the only real solution to addressing Grand Canyon’s sediment deficit is to transport it around Glen Canyon Dam or decommission the dam altogether.”
For more information, see: Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center at: www.gcmrc.gov, 928-556-7380. An entertaining and informative commentary blog can be read at www.charliechub.com. Living Rivers is the parent organization of River Runners for Wilderness and is based in Moab, Utah. The organization seeks to promote restoration and revitalization of the rivers of the Colorado Plateau damaged by dams, diversion and pollution. See more at www.livingrivers.org.