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The Glen Canyon Dam adaptive management program: Progress and immediate challenges

January 1, 2012

Adaptive management emerged as an important resource management strategy for major river systems in the United States (US) in the early 1990s. The Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program (‘the Program’) was formally established in 1997 to fulfill a statutory requirement in the 1992 Grand Canyon Protection Act (GCPA). The GCPA aimed to improve natural resource conditions in the Colorado River corridor in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona that were affected by the Glen Canyon dam. The Program achieves this by using science and a variety of stakeholder perspectives to inform decisions about dam operations. Since the Program started the ecosystem is now much better understood and several biological and physical improvements have been achieved. These improvements include: (i) an estimated 50% increase in the adult population of endangered humpback chub (Gila cypha) between 2001 and 2008, following previous decline; (ii) a 90% decrease in non-native rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), which are known to compete with and prey on native fish, as a result of removal experiments; and (iii) the widespread reappearance of sandbars in response to an experimental high-flow release of dam water in March 2008.Although substantial progress has been made, the Program faces several immediate challenges. These include: (i) defining specific, measurable objectives and desired future conditions for important natural, cultural and recreational attributes to inform science and management decisions; (ii) implementing structural and operational changes to improve collaboration among stakeholders; (iii) establishing a long-term experimental programme and management plan; and (iv) securing long-term funding for monitoring programmes to assess ecosystem and other responses to management actions. Addressing these challenges and building on recent progress will require strong and consistent leadership from the US Department of the Interior officials who guide the Program.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2012
Title The Glen Canyon Dam adaptive management program: Progress and immediate challenges
DOI 10.1002/9781119961819.ch26
Authors John F. Hamill, Theodore S. Melis
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Index ID 70157182
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Southwest Biological Science Center