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Scientific monitoring plan in support of the selected alternative of the Glen Canyon Dam Long-Term Experimental and Management Plan

January 18, 2017


The purpose of this document is to describe a strategy by which monitoring and research data in the natural and social sciences will be collected, analyzed, and provided to the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), its bureaus, and to the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program (GCDAMP) in support of implementation of the Glen Canyon Dam Long-Term Experimental and Management Plan (LTEMP) (U.S. Department of the Interior, 2016a). The selected alternative identified in the LTEMP Record of Decision (ROD) (U.S. Department of the Interior, 2016b) describes various data collection, analysis, modeling, and interpretation efforts to be conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center (GCMRC), partner agencies, and cooperators that will inform decisions about operations of Glen Canyon Dam and management of downstream resources between 2017 and 2037, the performance period of the LTEMP. General data collection, analysis, modeling, and interpretation activities are described in this science plan, whereas specific monitoring and research activities and detailed study plans are to be described in the GCDAMP’s triennial work plans (TWPs) to be developed by the Bureau of Reclamation and GCMRC with input from partner agencies and cooperators during the LTEMP period, which are to be reviewed and recommended by the GCDAMP and approved by the Secretary of the Interior.

The GCDAMP consists of several components, the primary committee being the Adaptive Management Work Group (AMWG). This Federal advisory committee is composed of 25 agencies and stakeholder groups and is chaired by the Secretary of the Interior’s designee. The AMWG makes recommendations to the Secretary of the Interior concerning operations of Glen Canyon Dam and other experimental management actions that are intended to fulfill some obligations of the Grand Canyon Protection Act of 1992. The Technical Work Group (TWG) is a subcommittee of the AMWG and provides technical advice to the AMWG. It is composed of technical and science representatives from the same agencies and stakeholder groups who serve on the AMWG. GCMRC is the primary science provider to the GCDAMP and also coordinates many aspects of the science performed by cooperators and partner agencies. The Science Advisors Program provides independent science reviews and advice at the request of the GCDAMP.

The plan proposed here necessarily depends on (1) the protocol for decision-making and the requirements for scientific data reporting described in the LTEMP ROD, (2) the priorities of the GCDAMP as directed by the LTEMP ROD (see Department of the Interior, 2016b, section 6.1), (3) the priorities for monitoring and research in the conservation measures section of the Biological Opinion for the LTEMP (U.S. Department of the Interior, 2016b, LTEMP ROD attachment E), (4) the priorities for resource management and information needs established by Federal and State resource-management agencies within the GCDAMP, (5) scientific understanding about the linkage between the status of those resources and operations of Glen Canyon Dam, and (6) the need to resolve existing scientific uncertainties about the linkage between dam operations and the condition of resources. We note that resource-management prioritization is fundamentally a policy decision charged specifically to DOI for the Colorado River in Glen and Grand Canyons, as outlined most recently in the LTEMP ROD, and is not the responsibility of the GCMRC. However, it is the responsibility of the GCMRC to describe the nature of scientific understanding, the nature of scientific uncertainty, and the risk of making resourcemanagement decisions in the face of existing scientific uncertainty. The goals of science activities in the next 20 years are to inform operational decisions regarding Glen Canyon Dam operations described in the LTEMP ROD, resolve remaining scientific uncertainties, and to monitor resource trends that are affected entirely, or in part, by dam operations.