SVG

What is GCDAMP?

The Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, created the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program (GCDAMP) in response to the 1995 Environmental Impact Statement on the Operations of Glen Canyon Dam. The GCDAMP is responsible for implementation of the Grand Canyon Protection Act of 1992, to monitor the operation of Glen Canyon Dam, to ensure the dam is operated in compliance with a range of laws and regulations and mitigate any significant environmental impacts.

What is GCDAMP?

The Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, created the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program (GCDAMP) in response to the 1995 Environmental Impact Statement on the Operations of Glen Canyon Dam. The GCDAMP is responsible for implementation of the Grand Canyon Protection Act of 1992, to monitor the operation of Glen Canyon Dam, to ensure the dam is operated in compliance with a range of laws and regulations and mitigate any significant environmental impacts.

Why GCDAMP exists

In 1992 Congress passed the Grand Canyon Protection Act (GCPA), which mandated development of an environmental impact statement to evaluate the effects of Glen Canyon Dam on downstream resources. The Act also mandated the Secretary to “establish and implement long-term monitoring programs and activities that will ensure that Glen Canyon Dam is operated … to protect, mitigate adverse impacts to, and improve the values for which Grand Canyon National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area were established…”

The US Department of Interior (DOI) published its Final Environmental Impact Statement on the Operation of Glen Canyon Dam in March 1995. In October 1996 it published its Record of Decision and in January 1997 Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt signed a Notice of Establishment of the Glen Canyon Adaptive Management Work Group as a formal federal advisory committee. The GCDAMP has evolved over time into a complex, collaborative body of scientists and stakeholders and federal agency representatives, but its fundamental purpose remains to fulfill the mandates of the Grand Canyon Protection Act through research, monitoring, and advice to the Secretary of Interior.

Laws that affect the program

Primarily the Grand Canyon Protection Act (Public Law 102-575, Sec. 1801-1809). But operations of Glen Canyon Dam and management of the Colorado River are also influenced of a larger body of law collectively referred to as The Law of the River. In fact, the Grand Canyon Protection Act states in Sec 1802: “The Secretary shall implement this section in a manner fully consistent with and subject to the Colorado River Compact, the Upper Colorado River Basin Compact, the Water Treaty of 1944 with Mexico, the decree of the Supreme Court in Arizona v. California, and the provisions of the Colorado River Storage Project Act of 1956 and the Colorado River Basin Project Act of 1968 that govern allocation, appropriation, development, and exportation of the waters of the Colorado River basin.” This complicated and occasionally conflicting body of law makes it difficult at times to determine exactly how to implement the resource protection mandates of the GCPA without violating other aspects of Colorado River water law.

The 1995 Glen Canyon Dam EIS and 1996 Record of Decision (ROD)

The Glen Canyon Dam Final EIS analyzed baseline impacts of dam operations on downstream environmental and cultural resources from 1963 to 1990, and compared those baseline impacts to possible alternative operations of Glen Canyon Dam, including three alternatives that would provide steady flows from the dam and six alternatives that would provide various levels of fluctuating flows. The EIS team and the cooperating agencies identified a preferred alternative called: the Modified Low Fluctuating Flow Alternative. This EIS served as the culmination of the Glen Canyon Environmental Studies launched in the early 1980s to document the effects of Glen Canyon Dam on downstream resources, fulfilling one of the mandates of the Grand Canyon Protection Act of 1992.

The 1996 RoD formally adopted the preferred alternative from the 1995 EIS stipulating the Modified Low Fluctuating Flow Alternative for operating Glen Canyon Dam. It also initiated the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program (GCDAMP) by establishing the Adaptive Management Work Group (AMWG) under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). AMWG’s stipulated purpose was to develop “a long-term monitoring, research, and experimental program” to evaluate the continuing effects of dam operations and to propose additional modifications when warranted.

Original AMWG Charter of 1997 and Subsequent Renewals

The Adaptive Management Work Group (AMWG) is a Federal Advisory Committee, so it is required to have a charter. The first AMWG charter was formulated in 1997. This initial charter described AMWG’s objectives, scope of activities, and duties; how it interacts with federal entities; and its estimated annual operating costs. The charter also mandated that AMWG membership consist of a set number of stakeholders, drawn from specified entities and groups with an interest in Grand Canyon and the Colorado River. Originally planned to be indefinite, the 1997 charter was renewed in 2015 under new Federal Advisory Committee Act rules requiring renewal every two years. The AMWG charter continues to be renewed biennially.

Adaptive Management Work Group (AMWG)

The Adaptive Management Work Group was established in 1997 as a Federal Advisory Committee to make recommendations to the Secretary of the Interior regarding adaptive management of the operations at Glen Canyon Dam to fulfill the mandates of the 1992 Grand Canyon Protection Act. AMWG is chaired by a designee of the US Secretary of the Interior. The 1997 charter establishing the AMWG also stipulated its membership (AKA “stakeholders”), who are appointed by the Secretary of the Interior. AMWG seeks to bring the stakeholders to a consensus on how to best protect downstream resources while meeting the legal mandates established in the many other laws that govern the Colorado River.

Technical Work Group (TWG)

The Technical Work Group is a subcommittee of the Adaptive Management Work Group, and is chaired by one of the TWG committee members selected by a vote of the committee. The responsibilities of the TWG are to develop criteria and standards for monitoring and research programs; provide periodic review and updates; develop resource management questions for the design of monitoring and research by the Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center, and provide information, as necessary, for preparing annual resource reports and other reports, as required for the AMWG.

Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center (GCMRC)

The Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center serves as the science provider for the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program (GCDAMP). It conducts and administers research and monitoring programs to provide the public and decision makers with relevant scientific information about the status and trends of natural, cultural, and recreational resources found in those portions of Grand Canyon National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area affected by Glen Canyon Dam operations.