The role of the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary’s Designee

Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt created GCDAMP in January 1997 in response to the 1995 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on Glen Canyon Dam operations. Since then, it has been the Interior Secretary’s responsibility to operate Glen Canyon Dam in accordance with the Grand Canyon Protection Act (GCPA), while also satisfying various statutory requirements for Colorado River management. For advice in this endeavor, the Secretary receives formal recommendations on dam operations and management actions from the Adaptive Management Work Group (AMWG) through the Secretary’s Designee who serves as the liaison between AMWG and the Interior Secretary.

The Secretary’s Designee—usually the Assistant Secretary for Water and Science–monitors Department of the Interior (DOI) compliance with its obligations under GCPA and the Record of Decision for the 1995 EIS. The Designee also ensures the DOI’s trust responsibilities to American Indian tribes with interests or assets affected by GCDAMP are being fulfilled.
The Secretary’s Designee acts as the AMWG Chair and is nominally responsible for calling and attending meetings of AMWG and its subcommittees, preparing meeting agendas, and chairing the meetings themselves. In practice, however, many of these administrative details are handled by delegated staff from the Bureau of Reclamation and the Interior Department.

A crucial role of the Designee is to facilitate consensus among participants at AMWG meetings as they develop recommendations for the Secretary of the Interior. AMWG recommendations are subject to review and modification by the Designee, who then forwards approved recommendations to the Secretary within fifteen working days of the meeting, along with any necessary background information. In cases where the AMWG recommendation was not the result of consensus, or where the Designee anticipates adverse consequences arising from a unanimous recommendation, the Designee has the authority to facilitate formulation of a DOI response. The final DOI response is due in writing within forty-five working days of the AMWG meeting, with the Designee providing a written status report in the event of a delay.