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Upper Colorado Region
Salt Lake City, Utah
Media Contact:
Barry Wirth
(801)524-3774 or (801) 633-5046 Cell

Released On: November 03, 2006

Long-Term Experimental Plan for Operation of Glen Canyon Dam to be Developed
The Bureau of Reclamation today announced it will begin to develop an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the implementation of a Long-Term Experimental Plan for operational activities at Glen Canyon Dam and other management actions on the Colorado River."This action reflects the Department's continued commitment to the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program, and appropriate environmental review and compliance of such experimentation under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)," said Mark Limbaugh, Assistant Secretary for Water and Science and the Secretary of the Interior's designee to the Adaptive Management Work Group (AMWG).

The development of the EIS continues efforts begun in 1996 when the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program was created to protect resources downstream of Glen Canyon Dam, including the Grand Canyon, through adaptive management and scientific experimentation. A keystone component of that program has been the work of the AMWG, which provides the Secretary of the Interior with recommendations on the development and review of science-related work and changes to management practices.

Through the efforts of the Adaptive Management Program, significant progress has been made in understanding the relationship between the resources of the Grand Canyon and Glen Canyon Dam operations. Over the past decade, the AMWG has proposed a number of actions later evaluated under NEPA and carried out by Interior agencies including Reclamation, the National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey. For example, in 2004, Reclamation conducted a high-flow release of water from Glen Canyon Dam in an effort to re-build riparian and fish habitat in the Grand Canyon.

For the past year, the AMWG has been working to develop a long-term plan of further structured experimentation related to operation of the dam and other management actions. The EIS on the Long-Term Experimental Plan will rely on the extensive scientific studies that have been undertaken as part of the Adaptive Management Program by the U.S. Geological Survey's Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center. The AMWG will inform Reclamation of options for a long-term experimental plan to be considered during the EIS process and will also have the opportunity to recommend experiments related to the plan.

This EIS process is consistent with and implements the provisions of the settlement agreement recently executed between the United States and the Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental groups in the Center for Biodiversity v. Kempthorne litigation regarding the operation of Glen Canyon Dam. This settlement agreement was approved by the United States District Court and is now in effect. In that agreement, Reclamation committed to further NEPA and Endangered Species Act compliance activities, in concert with the Adaptive Management Program.

The AMWG will hold a public meeting December 5  6, 2006, in Phoenix, Ariz., at the Fiesta Inn at 2100 S. Priest Drive, Tempe, Arizona. On December 5, the meeting will run from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and on December 6, the meeting will run from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. This meeting will provide an opportunity for public input on the Long-Term Experimental Plan. An agenda for the meeting, including projected times for the discussion of this action, will soon be posted on the Upper Colorado Region's web page at www.usbr.gov/uc. Click on the Adaptive Management Program listing for details.

The public will again have the opportunity to provide input on the NEPA process following the upcoming meeting. A public announcement and Federal Register Notice concerning further public scoping (and other information related to the development of the EIS) is expected in December.

Interior agencies will initiate work on the EIS with today's announcement. The Department anticipates publishing a draft EIS in the spring of 2008.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at www.usbr.gov.