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Committee Synopsis In July 1986, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) asked a National Research Council (NRC) committee to help evaluate their environmental studies being conducted on the lower Colorado River and to provide advice on alternative operations of the Glen Canyon Dam. Glen Canyon Dam, completed in 1964, is one of several high-head, multipurpose storage projects in the Colorado River system (see map). For more than 30 years issues concerning the effect of dam operations on the natural resources of the Grand Canyon National Park have been raised. The USBR's Glen Canyon Environmental Studies (GCES) were intended to evaluate the relationships between dam operations and the natural resources of the Grand Canyon. Based on these analyses, modified reservoir operating policies were to be considered. It may be useful for the reader to refer to a previously issued committee report, River and Dam Management: A Review of the Bureau of Reclamation's Glen Canyon Environmental Studies (NRC, 1987) to assist in understanding the scope of GCES issues and the NRC's involvement in providing advice to the Bureau of Reclamation. In its 1987 report, the committee found that the GCES gave insufficient attention to early planning and to careful articu- lation of GCES objectives and that it inadequately considered management options. The NRC report also noted that recommended management op- tions made by the Bureau of Reclamation were not supported by the GCES research results and that researchers had failed to identify the rationale for
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2 COLORADO RIVER ECOLOGY AND DAM MANAGEMENT LOCA TION MA P - ~~ -- L~ ~ - - - ~ ., · ~\ _ i ; ORES J ~ ~ S. OK _ art' ~ 4 - < CALF. " ~ - - -at' ` ~ ~ ~ N. - K I ~ _ . - ~~ TED. j COLORADO — ~ i/ RIVER BASIN ~x~co Act . ~~-r~ ~ =5 I ~ ALIKE; _ ~ _ _ _ _ ~ _ _ _ NEVADA, ~ ~ ~~t Colorado STUDY AREA ~~ ~ ~ \\Riv r \~RIZO/N~ ~W MEXICO ,, ~ Lower ~J 3~l ~ by) >~Colorado River \~ Basin Location map of the Colorado River basin. SOURCE: U.S. Department of the Interior, 1987. _ _ _ _ 0 so 1 . MILE
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COMMITTEE SYNOPSIS... assigning values to downstream resources so that management goals could be set. The USBR's report, issued in 1987 (U.S. Department of the Interior, 1987), recommended several management options. The NRC committee stated that, of those, only the recommendations that called for continued study of dam operations and nonoperations alternatives, along with addi- tional research and monitoring of the Colorado River, were justified. Since 1987, a reorganized committee has worked with the USBR's GCES program manager and GCES researchers to help implement many of the recommendations in the NRC's 1987 report. One of that report's findings suggested that the results of the GCES (U.S. Department of the Interior, 1987) represented a substantial increase in knowledge of the Colorado River ecosystem as it exists in the Glen Canyon and the Grand Canyon. Existing historical information had not been fully reviewed at the beginning of the GCES. This finding led to the committee's criticism that in the GCES too much of the existing information had been ignored in the planning stages of the research. As a result of the varying agency budgets, missions, and pools of researchers, the planning process for the GCES did not treat the ecosys- tem components as part of a whole. Had the researchers been given the time and funds to review the extant literature about the Colorado River ecosystem, the committee believes they would have recognized at a much earlier stage, the need to address interaction of ecosystem components. The NRC committee recommended that a review of existing knowledge precede future investigations. The review should be an early step in the planning phase and should result in the preparation of written documenta- tion. The USER began Phase II of the GCES (GCES II) in 1988. In 1989 the Secretary of the Department of the Interior ordered that an environmen- tal impact statement (EIS) be developed and that the GCES II results be incorporated into the EIS. The NRC committee was asked to continue providing advice to the GCES and to help by reviewing the existing knowl- edge about the Colorado River ecosystem in the Grand Canyon. To under- take that task, the NRC sponsored a symposium in May 1989 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, entitled "Colorado River Ecology and Dam Management." These proceedings document that event. Approximately 200 people attended the symposium. Eleven invited pa- pers were prepared to (1) review extant information about the river from an ecosystem perspective and (2) serve as the basis for discussions on the use of ecosystem/earth science information for river management, and dam op- erations. The report has two sections: the committee's findings and recommenda- tions, and background papers presented at the symposium. The findings and recommendations integrate the steering committee's review of the background papers, the lively discussion at the symposium, and the committee's own judgements about USER management of the Glen Canyon Environmental
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4 COLORADO RIVER ECOLOGY AND DAM MANAGEMENT Studies. The background papers contain the conclusions of individual au- thors, many but not all of which are reflected in the committee's synopsis. The authors of the papers were chosen for their expertise and interest in the subject. The committee thanks them for their excellent work and timely response to the task set before them. As scholars from different back- grounds, they showed impressive skill in moving toward the integrated view that will be required to address the complex issues involving decisions about the operation of Glen Canyon Dam. Most of the people who attended He symposium became active partici- pants in the discussions. This is a measure of the importance that the subject has for busy people. The people with management responsibilities learned a bit more about how science can be useful to management; scien- tists learned more about the complex tasks of management. Policy deci- sions will be guided in new and productive directions if this alliance ma- tures. By any measure, the meeting was stimulating; the committee hopes that this report will be a useful stimulus to future environmental research in the Grand Canyon. The committee's findings and recommendations are directed to the USER as it continues to grow in its role as a manager of the nation's natural resources. FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Initiate Long-Term Research and Monitoring in the Grand Canyon Since 1964, the operation of Glen Canyon Dam has caused continuing ecosystem changes in the Grand Canyon reach of the Colorado River. Some changes were immediate (e.g., decrease in water temperature, sediment load reductions, and flow regime alterations), but most others (e.g., geomorphic adjustment of the channel, secondary succession of terrestrial vegetation, and changing aquatic species composition) are occurring on longer time scales. Introduction of and invasions by exotic species are influencing the ecosystem as well. Many of the changes caused by the construction of Glen Canyon Dam are irreversible, and so the Colorado River cannot be managed to reestab- lish the pre-dam conditions in the Grand Canyon. Because ecosystem com- ponents are linked to one another and to the flow regime imposed by the dam, the potential exists for manipulating the system, that is, manipulating flows to manage the river and protect the environment in the national park. The interaction between management and science can lead to the discovery of new knowledge and should be useful to management for monitoring the effectiveness of management performance. The achievement of this inter- action will require the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) to:
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COMMITTEE SYNOPSIS... s · Establish a mechanism to develop management goals for the Colo- rado River in the Grand Canyon National Park. Priorities for implemer'- tatior' car' then be developed by a multi-disciplirzary management team. · Initiate careful and intensive planning of long-term research reeds and a long-term monitoring program to establish and refire ecological understanding in the Grand Canyon' and to check the performance of management actions. This planning should involve the help of experi- enced people in all of the disciplines required. The National Research Council (NRC) committee recommended in 1987, and continues to recom- mend, that an advisory group be established at the secretarial level ir' the Department of the Interior ¢DOI) so that the varying agency missions will be less of a barrier to effective resource management. · Establish the management and monitoring program in the Grand Canyon as a long-term scientific investigation. · Integrate science into its management of natural resources. This "adaptive management,' approach strives to balance the rigors of science with increasing requirements arid constraints within the federal decisiorz- making process. Ensure that Dam Operations Are Flexible The complicated interactions of (1) the economics of hydropower gen- eration and marketing and (2) the management of natural resources are not well understood. The legal requirements for dam operations to meet water allocations required by the Colorado River Compact are not a strong con- straint on alternative operations of Glen Canyon Dam. · The USER and the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) should integrate scientific investigation with the full range of power generation options possible within the law of the river to make rational management decisions. · More effective mechanisms should be sought to meld economic and operations research into ecosystem research. To be effective, this integra- tion must be an or'-goir~g and flexible process. Manipulation of dam operations to achieve management goals should be implemented with the understanding that there is some uncertainty at this stage. This means that operating the dam to achieve management goals in the Grand Canyon will be, to some extent, experimental. The performance monitoring that follows implementation will be the data collection phase of long-term experiments. Corrections can be made as the system becomes better known. Issues include:
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hours. 6 COLORADO RIVER ECOLOGY AND DAM MANAGEMENT · Estimating economic costs of increased minimum releases, using hourly historic data for developing generation and load probability distributions. · Estimating costs of various ramping rates between peak and off-peak · Economic costs of various marketing policies of WAPA. · The changes in the energy load of the Colorado River Storage Project in the short and long terms. Seek Research Talent from the Academic Sector When seeking scientific leadership in 1988-1989 for the GCES II, the USBR published a request for proposals (REP) that emphasized schedules and deliverable products rather than documentation of the skills and scien- tific records of the principal investigators. Thus, the REP failed to attract the sort of experienced scientist required for the planning and development of GCES II. A later search process was more effective because it specified the need for a person with scientific knowledge and specific skills and experience to do the planning and to guide He selection of scientists who would perform the high-quality research that the USBR expects. However, a search for researchers in the summer of 1990 reverted to use of the REP process that had fallen short before (i.e., RFPs sent with preference given to small busi- nesses). Because the scientific talent to accomplish these tasks was not found in the small-business sector, the committee believes that this particular pro- cess is less likely to attract people with the collection of skills, talents, and experience that will serve the project best. To succeed, this work requires highly motivated and creative talent. The GCES needs qualified and tal- ented scientists to perform the research required. Therefore, the committee believes the search for this talent should be widespread and should include the academic sector as well as others. After implementing the long-term monitoring program, the USBR should initiate a broad search for proposals, including proposals from the academic sector, to find answers to general questions about the Colorado River ecosystem in the Grand Canyon and about its responses to the op- eration of Glen Canyon Dam. Proposals should include background re- view, clear statements of work objectives and approaches to achieving them, specific schedules, budgets, and full documentation of the talents and experience of the investigators. The USBR should ensure that these proposals are then reviewed on a competitive basis by a panel of peer scientists for incorporation into the long-term GCES program.
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COMMllTEE SYNOPSIS... 7 · The USBR should plan to carry out short-term investigations selected by this process in concert with lor~g-term monitoring. The long-term monitoring provides documentation of the Status of the system when the short-term work is performed. The long-term record will aid interpretation of the results. The results of short-term experimental work yield information about causes and effects that cannot be extracted from long-term time series data. Such results are useful because knowledge of cause-and-effect relationships is essential for the development of management manipulation plans (hypotheses). This rec- ommended interaction of long-term monitoring and short-term experimental and theoretical work, thus, will be a powerful management combination. Include the USGS on the Federal Executive Management Committee A new committee, the Federal Executive Management Committee, has been appointed by the USBR to oversee He research associated with Glen Canyon Dam. This committee has representatives from the USBR, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, WAPA, and the Arizona Game and Fish Commission. When questioned about the omission of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the USBR pointed out that the USGS had no management mission and, in their opinion, no role on the Federal Executive Management Committee. The USGS has had an ongoing involvement with the research studies for the GCES and the committee believes their research and data-gathering experi- ence will provide a useful perspective to the integration of research and management. · Therefore, the USGS should be included on the Federal Executive Management Committee. Use an Ecosystem Approach to Grand Canyon Research A major objective of the NRC symposium was a review of current infor- mation in the scholarly literature about the Colorado River ecosystem. This review revealed that many events in the history of human involvement in the development of this resource have occurred in isolation from one another, that is, without regard for their effects on other aspects of the ecosystem. · The USBR should conduct future GCES research in the Grand Can- yon using an ecosystem perspective to avoid the isolated implementation that has created problems in the past. Examples of effects resulting from the previous limited perspective of the GCES are as follows:
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8 COLORADO RIVER ECOLOGY AND DAM MANAGEMENT · Sediment transport records in the Grand Canyon were terminated in the mid-1960s. · Exotic species (invertebrates, fishes, and phreatophytes) were intro- duced. Thus, the committee recommends a ban on the introduction of new exotic species to Lake Powell until the effects of dam operation on river fish communities is better understood. · No provision was made for the temperature and flow requirements of now endangered species. (Previously, the law did not require such atten- tion.) · Narrow geographic boundaries were set for GCES I such that assess- ment of water quality from Lake Powell was excluded. Because of planning shortfalls prior to GCES I (NBC, 1987), there are still major gaps in knowledge. Better understanding is still needed on: · Trophic structure of Glen Canyon Dam tailwaters and its relationship to phenomena in Lake Powell and flow regimes associated with dam opera- tion. · Detailed water budget for Lake Powell, including better estimates of bank storage, evaporation, and discharge from the Glen Canyon Dam. · Requirements for the protection of endangered species. · Magnitude and timing of sediment contributions from tributary sources. Depositional fate of tributary sediments and documentation of their chemical qualities. · Flow conditions that deposit sand at the margins of the river (beaches), which are not understood in enough detail to suggest a management strategy that will build beaches. The research needed to increase understanding of these topics is not trivial. Nevertheless, investment in developing the information will make management decisions wiser, more defensible, and more cost-effective in the long term. Revisit 1987 NRC Recommendations on the GCES Sound scientific information is critical to making informed decisions about the use of natural resources. The 1987 report of the NRC committee made recommendations that would strengthen the scientific information base for decisions about and management of Glen Canyon Dam based on the results of GCES. Few of those recommendations have been implemented except for the hiring of a senior scientist to advise the GCES researchers.
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COMMITTEE SYNOPSIS... 9 Even this recommendation falls short as the scientist was not hired at the recommended Department of the Interior level but rather under the Bureau of Reclamation. Therefore, · USER management should review the December 1987 NRC report River and Dam Management for reconsideration of the applicability of those recommendations to GCES II. REFERENCES National Research Council, 1987. River and Dam Management: A Review of the Bureau of Redamation's Glen Canyon Environmental Studies. National Academy Press, Washing- ton, D.C. U.S. Department of the Interior, 1987. Glen Canyon Environmental Studies Report. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Flagstaff, Ariz.
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