Anonymous Subject Oral History Interview
This is Paul Hirt and Jen Sweeney of Arizona State University, interviewing a long-time member of the Technical Working [sic] Group and Adaptive Management Working [sic] Group of the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program, in Peach Springs, Arizona, on August 14, 2018. First, can you start by telling us the positions that you’ve held in the adaptive management program in the years in which you participated?
Sure. From 1994 to 2007 I was a principal investigator, leading wildlife and vegetation monitoring in the lower Grand Canyon. From 1997 to present, I represented, been a representative on the Technical Work Group, and (pause) from 1997 to 2017, I was an AMWG [Adaptive Management Work Group] alternate.
And can you tell me how your participation in the program changed over time? The kinds of work that you did, the kinds of programs you were involved in?
When I first started here, we were receiving substantial funding to monitor a whole host of resources: fish, wildlife, vegetation, recreation. Um, and so that was in 1994. When they established the Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center [GCMRC] and the GCDAMP [Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program] in 1997, all that funding got shifted to GCMRC, and our funding went down the toilet. Um, so that was a big, one of the biggest changes that has occurred since the time I’ve been here. And then, so after ’97, the tribes were then given, I don’t know exactly what year it started, but in, somewhere around then, they decided to give each tribe ninety-five thousand dollars to participate in the program, and then thirty-five thousand dollars for monitoring. So, we were getting a little bit of money. So I was able to continue my wildlife and vegetation monitoring program until about 2007, um, just on thirty-five thousand dollars, and that was doing five trips on the lower river. We had our own boats, our own boatmen. We had four biologists and three fisheries biologists. And so we were able to keep that going. Then around 2007, the cultural program here, um, decided they needed that money to do their annual monitoring and river trips. And so that money went away from me and I quit doing that work.
So for, for what percentage of the time that you’ve been involved in the program have you been serving as a kind of either formal or informal representative of the interests of the Hualapai Tribe?
For almost one hundred percent of it.
Okay. All right. By the way, I should mention that this particular interviewee has requested to remain anonymous for this interview, and that’s why we’re not mentioning his name in the introduction. Um, okay. So, um, significant events that have occurred during your time involved in the program that, you know, had an impact both on the program itself and on your participation and the Hualapai Tribe’s participation.
Well, as I mentioned previously, just the establishment of the Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center was probably the biggest event that affected our activities here. Um, other than that, we’ve had pretty consistent representation. Loretta Jackson-Kelly was the AMWG representative for many, many years until recently. Um, Dawn Hubbs has been the AMWG representative the last couple of years, and I’ve been the Technical Work Group representative throughout that whole time. So, we’ve had pretty consistent representation.
and uh, and they, I think they have about thirty-five sites that they monitor every couple of, two or three years, and they have data sheets where they record what the condition of the site is and what’s affecting it: is it human visitation, is it erosion or whatever, that kind of stuff. So ,there’s been a lot of consistency, and again, the biggest thing was when they established the Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center. As far as our pr–activities.
So what are the key interests and concerns of the Hualapai Tribe that motivates their, you know, desire to be, uh, so consistently involved in the program over time.
One thing that’s important to, I think, all of the tribes are the condition of the riparian resources, the vegetation, the wildlife, the birds, the small mammals, the reptiles. And, and for some tribes, even the fish. I don’t think the fish are that important to the Hualapai Tribe that, as much, but other tribes, they are. Um, so we just want to know the health of our land because being on 108 miles of the Colorado River is the northern boundary of the reservation, so they kind of feel like that’s their resources down there, and they want to know how things are going. And that’s why the one, the, they were very supportive of our wildlife and vegetation monitoring activities, because we were giving them a report on how are things doing. And I think that was great that we were able to do that for whatever, fourteen years, because we established a (pause) a database, a baseline database that, in the future, if something changes–operations of the dam, climate change, or who knows what–and we get some more funding and they’re able to repeat that work, we can compare what was going on back then to what potentially is going on in the future.
Do you know whether, um, resource professionals working for the tribe, or even elders of the tribe, had noticed changes in the river because of Glen Canyon Dam prior to the creation of this adaptive management program?
I don’t know that, but we have thirty years of interview data with tribal elders on the river about certain places that will, uh– I think I talked to you about this archive program. Um, so that’s all been digitized and it’s being entered into a database, but my involvement in that project and Dawn Hubbs’ involvement in that project is no longer (pause) needed, apparently. And so it’s been taken over by other (pause) interests here in the department. But hopefully that’s the kind of information that is in those interviews about places, you know, not, I don’t, I don’t think there’s data from before the dam’s presence, but I think there’s data starting around 1989, and going through ’til the present day.
So, um, do you remember back when the program was just being created and stakeholders were being identified for participation in the AMWG and TWG [Technical Work Group], do you remember anything about how the Hualapai Tribe, um, got involved, to, to sort of what extent, um, were they enthusiastic about joining one of these federal advisory committees? You know, those can be kind of boring and difficult and complex and technical and sometimes getting tribal representation can be complex and difficult. [Anonymous: yeah.] What do you remember about those early days?
That, actually, our participation was initiated prior to my starting here. I think that was initiated in 1989, and my predecessors and the people that I came to work for, my bosses, they were actively involved in getting a seat at the table, and they had to be very forceful and very outspoken to get representation on the, on the AMWG.
Do you think that, um, that need to be forceful and persistent, um, has carried through to the present, or was that just at the beginning, to get a seat at the table, um, it required that extra effort, but after that it was smooth sailing?
No, I think it’s continued to, to this day. Yeah, we’ve–and it, it– one of the questions [on the list of interview questions sent ahead of time] was “what surprised you when you got into this program,” what surprised me was how poorly tribes were treated, and looked upon, like we were minorities in this, and that, didn’t have an equal, um, an equal (pause) stake in the program.
Wow. And you felt that from the beginning of your involvement?
Continuing. It’s gotten better over the last few years, because all the tribes are standing together now and saying, you know, “This is what, how we want to be treated in the program,” our informa–our knowledge that these tribal members have about the resources on the river, we need to integrate that knowledge into the activities of all the investigators.
Can you be a little more specific about some experiences that you had that gave you the sense that your perspectives were not being fully respected or integrated?
Well, I can remember specifically, this was five or six years ago, and it was a [unintelligible] a TWG meeting, I believe. And we were disc– discussing an issue and I had my hand up almost, for hours, and I was never called upon, and they ended the discussion without ever me getting to saying what I wanted to say. And I was just like, “Really?” So it’s like discrimination, I felt discriminated against for ever since I’ve been in the program. And it is getting better, but (pause) it’s like, like we’re not an equal level or something.
Um, do you think that there is a hierarchy among the stakeholder groups? Uh, or is it just, you know–
I, you know, most of the groups were established when I first came in, so I’m not, I don’t know exactly the relationships between them all, but there does seem to be kind of, like, cliques in the program, like the states kind of hang together and other, other groups hang together, but um (pause) and, you know, it’s not necessarily bad, it’s just, that’s just kind of the way it is, and the way it evolved.
So you mentioned, um, that the tribes more recently have created a little bit of their own clique to, to gain some power and influence. Can you talk a little bit more about how and why that happened and what, what the benefits of that have been?
Well, I think certain issues have pushed the tribal perspectives to the forefront, like killing of–mechanical removal of fish, for some tribes, especially the Zuni and the Hopi, I mean, it (pause) it affects the health of their communities. And so I think, you know, people like Kurt Dongoske have been very vocal in saying, “No, it’s not okay, you can’t do this.” And so, that’s kind of brought the tribes to a rallying point, that we need to be heard and we’re not going away. But I think we’ve felt that way for a long time, and I don’t think that we’ve been as vocal until recently.
Have there been different periods in which there are different, um, leaders in the AMWG and TWG program that have been, some more, um, willing to facilitate tribal involvement, and others less so? Or is it kind of always the same?
I think, um, there’s been certain people that have supported tribal participation more than others, and I can’t think of specific names right now. But–and then I think there’s certain people that still don’t think that we should be in the program. At least, I’ve been told that by others. And, and it’s for whatever–the tribes have lived on this land for thousands of years, you know. It was their land before the park [Grand Canyon National Park] took it, you know, before that was established. And so it was like, they are the most, of anybody, that should be, um (pause) working with the resources and being heard, it should be the tribes, because this, they have a way closer association to the river and the resources than western scientists do.
So, I’m thinking about, um, tribal perspectives and tribal issues. Some people–so the folks that are represented on AMWG are often referred to as stakeholders, and you know, and the states are one stakeholder and the recreational community has their representatives as stakeholders and fisheries biologists have their–do you think that tribes are, in that sense, a kind of a stakeholder group with a, with a coherent set of interests and issues? Or are they different than these other stakeholder groups?
(Pause.) I think the tribes have a lot of similar interests and concerns about resources as other groups, but I think they have a way more fundamental relationship with the canyon, way more funda–and I have only recently really appreciated the extent to which that is true. Hearing about the creation stories of the Hopis and the Zunis, where individuals actually turned into the fish and individuals turned into the other organisms, the Hualapai creation stories, that down by Spirit Mountain in the lower Colorado River area, and it’s a similar story, but it’s, it’s not in the canyon. But um, yeah, so fundamentally, those are their relatives down there and that’s different than any other stakeholder group.
Well, this might seem speculative then, but could you (pause) paint a picture for us of what it would look like if the tribes had an appropriate amount of respect and influence in, you know, the evolution of the adaptive management program and the decision making process–if instead of being marginalized, they were central to the process, what do you think it would look like?
Well, I think there would be a lot more participation in all of the resource monitoring that goes on, from the physical resources, sediment and everything, to the biological. I think there would be a lot more elder involvement in the decision-making process, with what type of work should go on down there and what type shouldn’t go on down there.
How would that be facilitated? The elder involvement?
Just through a funding mechanism. Being able to get those people to meetings, getting people to come out here and go down to Diamond Creek and talk about issues and stuff like that.
Anything else that would change if there was, what you would consider to be full participation?
(Pause) At this point, I can’t really say, but, it would just–
How might that be facilitated? Any ideas along those lines besides an additional funding mechanism, and explain what you mean by that a little bit more.
Well, you have to have money to do anything, pretty much [unintelligible]. We pay our elders when we take them on the river trip. We pay them so much a day and, actually, for two-week river trip that ends up being about thirty thousand dollars. And so just to get the people involved, they have to be compensated. And we have–and, of course, the logistics are expensive and all that kind of stuff, but–and our government [Hualapai tribal government] doesn’t really get, our government leaders, doesn’t really get involved with the ongoing aspects of the Glen Canyon program, and I think that that would be, the tribal council could have a lot of good input into decisions and the decision-making process and, uh, we should, and–let people know what their views on the issues are.
Do you think, um, their modest level of involvement is because of funding shortages, or are different priorities–?
I think, well, to me, it seems like they’ve entrusted us with representing the tribe and so, I feel like they’re in good hands and they have to deal with a million other issues all the time. And so I think that’s the way I look at it, that they’re–but I think it would be valuable if that they could have more input.
Can you think of a few instances in which Hualapai tribal input and representation yielded some, you know, significant beneficial outcome? [A] few examples of that?
(Pause.) I’m sure there’s plenty. Like, um (pause). Well, I don’t know that it’s really affected it, but we’ve always talked about things like High Flow Experiments [HFEs] and what, how they impact the resources of the tribe. And there really hasn’t been a response by the government or anyone to actually listen to our voice and say, “Oh, you’re right. We’ve just caused you a half-a-million-dollars’ damage by running that flood.” And uh, that’s a place where we could have a beneficial [unintelligible] outcome, not only for the tribe, but for the resources, because when–every time you do a flood, all that sand ends up down Hualapai land. And so, and I don’t know what that does is, to the fisheries or to a lot of the other resources, but–and nobody, that’s another big point, is nobody look–does much work below Diamond Creek. They’re just starting to do a little bit, but–now that they found a bunch of humpback chub down there–
Oh, really? [Anonymous: Yeah.] Well now they’re paying attention
Now they’re paying a little bit more attention.
On endangered species then.
Yeah. But–so there’s, there’s a lot of opportunities for the tribe to get beneficial outcomes. It’s just a lot of times it hasn’t happened yet.
Well, it’s interesting that you mentioned high flow events [High Flow Experiments] as a potential negative impact on tribal resources, because the program’s general orientation towards HFEs, as they call them acronymically [Anonymous: Yeah], um, is that this–we have to do this to try to recover some of the lost beaches and sandbars upstream. I’ve never heard anybody mention anything about the impacts of the high flow events downstream.
Right. And you know, yeah, they’re trying to build beaches up in Marble Canyon and up there, and 90 percent of the sand ends up down here instead of all up, up on the beaches, and instead it causes problems, you know. We have a river, a river running operation that we have to replace lower units on boat motors because they’re hitting sandbars all the time, and other equipment damages, and then, I don’t know if you’re familiar, but we have tourist destinations on the river, where people get flown in in a helicopter, and we have docks down there and stuff, and those docs get tore up all the time during the high flow events. And those kind of things.
Have you been able to bring those issues up, uh–?
We’ve brought those issues up repeatedly, and we don’t get–
What’s the response?
Well, usually little or no response. And then, we kind of have a problem internally. It’s because (pause) the–I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Hualapai Tribe. We have the tribal government, and then we have the corporation, the Grand Canyon Resort Corporation. And so they run all the tourism activities.
Do they run West Rim, too?
Yeah. And so they don’t want to divulge any financial information. So they don’t want to tell what the financial cost of a flood is to them.
Even if they could get compensated?
Even if they could get compensated. Which, to me, is interesting, yes. So there’s different hurdles to be overcome, but, um–
Well, you know, that reminds me that there isn’t always a win-win outcome in every natural resource decision that comes up. I wonder if you can talk a little bit more about instances—’cause this is the first time I’ve heard this in one of our interviews, so far, that a really sort of central goal of the adaptive management program may be good for one set of stakeholders and not good for another set of stakeholders. Have you run into any situations like that with other decisions or other resource management issues that people are talking about, where it’s not easy to determine what the right path is because it has different impacts on different stakeholders?
Well, I think, and I haven’t documented this or don’t know for sure, but there’s a lot of potential to erode archeological sites down on the lower river every time you run a flood. And the very–I was here for the very first flood in 1996 and, and everybody thinks in the back of their mind to the river stops at Separation Canyon, um–
Where, where John Wesley Powell pulled out, you mean? [Anonymous: Yeah.] Oh no! He pulled out after that. But that’s where the two [three] people left–
Because that’s where the influence of Lake Mead comes in. But we, when they ran that first flood, we documented, so that’s river mile 240, and then we documented that the flood actually affected resources all the way down to mile 254.
And so, we would get burying in the vegetation or we’d get scouring in the vegetation all the way down there. And there’s, you know, these are some, there’s TCPs [Traditional Cultural Properties] down there, and there’s archaeological sites, and I don’t know if, if they have been damaged but, um, there’s potential for that.
What kind of management of the dam, management actions, adaptive management actions of Glen Canyon Dam, would be helpful to the goals of the Hualapai Tribe?
Wow, that’s a hard one. (Pause.) Well, things that reduce the, the damage to resources in the lower canyon, the op–tourism operations. Um, and you know, we’re, you know, the LTEMP [Long-Term Experimental and Management Plan], with the LTEMP ROD [Record of Decision], we have a greater potential for many more HFEs in the future, and but that was never evaluated what impact this might have on the Hualapai resources.
LTEMP being Long-Term–
Long-Term Experimental and Management Plan.
And that’s when they make decisions about high flow events and, okay–
When, the timing of them, what they actually look like, how high the flood is, and all that good stuff.
So, um, even without high flow events, there’s going to constantly be sediment coming down the river and depositing at the upper end of slack water behind Hoover Dam. Um, is this a, what’s the long-term perspective of the tribe on dealing with the increasing sedimentation along the river, creeping up the river?
Well, there’s potential for dredging. [P.H.: Uh-huh.] And I’ve already, I’ve suggested that in the past, you know, maybe we need to look at some dredging going on. And that doesn’t get much mileage with the government or anybody, really.
Is anybody opposed to it, or people just don’t want to talk about that option?
They don’t really want to talk about that. Um, there’s been all kinds of crazy things, you know. Pump the sediment back upstream, you know.
That would be expensive, wouldn’t it (laughs)?
That would be expensive, but you know, they’re talking about temperature control devices and stuff like that, that are very expensive. Or load it into trucks and drive it back up there or something. You know, there’s been a lot of speculation or talk about what kind of things can be done, but none of it has been addressed really seriously.
Let me go back to the standard list of questions. There’s one in here about key reports and documents that you think were really important to the program and its evolution.
Yeah, I can, can address that. Um, I work on several committees that put together, I don’t know if you’ve heard of them, Desired Future Conditions [DFCs] for different resources. I thought that was a very important effort. A strategic plan was written. That doesn’t get any mileage anymore. Nobody brings these out of the closet and looks at them anymore.
When were those two produced?
Late nineties, early two thousands.
Okay. We’ll pull them up for our administrative history again, make them available.
And then um, you know, the documents that deal with cultural resources: the programmatic agreement, the historic preservation plan which are underway, developing right now. Well, that were supposed to be developed back in ’96, ’97 when the program started, and they never were. All of these things that were supposed to have been done. If you go back to the original programmatic agreement, there’s a bunch of things that were supposed to be done, and almost none of them were ever done. Which was really amazing. And then, um, just the annual reports from the Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center and [US Bureau of] Reclamation. So, um, of course, the Record of Decisions for the EISs [Environmental Impact Statement].
So the first one you mentioned, the Desired Future Conditions, um, that was late 1990s, you’re saying?
Oh, I can’t say exactly when, I’m thinking late nineties or early two-thousands, but they were only com–
[Unintelligible] those reports?
They were only completed for a few resources. I think one was completed for humpback chub. Like a certain, we want a certain number of chubs and of certain size and–That’s kind of narrow.
That’s kind of narrow.
I thought this would be an integrated view of all the resources, but you’re saying that, for very specific targeted resources that they’re trying to manage, like beaches and endangered species–
And so yeah, there was, I don’t remember exactly how many resources were addressed, but not all of them. That effort was terminated and I don’t know why or how, but the powers-that-be somewhere said, “We shouldn’t be doing this anymore.” Or something, I don’t know. But, I thought it was a very worthwhile exercise and that, you know, there’s a lot of conflicting, you can do good for one resource, and it might do bad for another. You know, like, there was an effort to return, um, extirpated species, species that no longer can be found at the canyon, back, like river otters, and–but you can’t have river otters and native fish coexisting very well. I actually studied river otters for my Masters work, in the Verde River system, and that was their favorite food, was native fish (laughter). So I don’t think it’s a good idea to put river otters back in there [unintelligible].
There was that conflict, too, about um, uh, you know, the invasive species tamarisk, um, is taking over a lot of the lower canyons in the Southwest, and a lot of people were concerned about trying to get it out. And then it turned out the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher likes tamarisk, and, uh–are there any other examples like that that you’ve worked on or that the Hualapai are interested in where, you know, there’s some resource conflict?
One thing I want to mention, and it’s not necessarily tied to resource conflict, but we’ve had huge changes in the vegetation community in the lower canyon.
Yeah, since [unintelligible].
Since I’ve been involved. There used to be a tamarisk monoculture. And then for some reason that, when Lake Mead rose and the [unintelligible]–the dam was operating, and how it was operating, the tamarisk got reduced and the willows and cottonwoods went crazy. And then–
Without any human intervention?
Without any human intervention, really. And then, now, it’s back to a mixture of willows and tamarisk. But nobody knows what that meant to the wildlife communities. Nobody–besides, when we got, when we finished monitoring wildlife in ’07, uh, the park does a little bit of wildlife monitoring, not much, but um, nobody really is looking at that, and that’s one of the resources that’s very important to all the tribes. The critters–the creatures.
Well, and that monitoring is essential to adaptive management, too. You can’t adapt if you’re not monitoring to see what the effects are of, you know–
They’re mon—(speaking simultaneously)
–the changing environmental conditions or your decision making.
Right, and then they’re monitoring vegetation, they’re still doing that, but they’re not linking that to what’s happening with the wildlife populations. And we, we would like to start that program up again and it’s just, um–
How would you do that? What would–like, walk us through the steps of when somebody recognizes a research program that needs to be done, how do you try to get that research funded?
We’ve been most successful by working directly with Reclamation. Salt Lake City. [P.H.: Okay.] Give them proposals, and they’ve been able to find money here and there. Then, in addition, we have some base funding in our natural resource department from the BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs]. We have a wildlife, fishes, and parks program that is funded directly by BIA, and there’s, you know, there’s a little money in there that we can use as matching funds to, if we can leverage other funds from, like, Reclamation and, uh, and do the project. But that’s how we’ve been so, most successful, recently. Like, I just funded the archive project for the next two years. And–
Yeah. So, I just hope it’s– (both talking at once)
That’s archiving all those digitized, uh–
Interviews with elders about conditions on the river.
And we’ll see how that works out.
Um, so, when you mentioned the, the Desired Future Conditions reports that were done a few decades ago, you said that they were focused fairly tightly on certain resources. You also mentioned that they were doing a cultural resources kind of inventory. Was that focused on different, uh, tribes, or were they trying to do a comprehensive cultural resource inventory at that–that they–and did they finish it?
Well, there has been a comprehensive cultural inventory done paid primarily by the park, way back when, [P.H.: Okay], in the early beginnings of the program. And I wasn’t involved with that at all. I can’t really speak to that, but um–
What did they–okay. You don’t know how well they integrated tribal elders and oral tradition and stuff?
I was a biologist back then. But it would be great if you could interview people like Dawn Hubbs, Loretta Jackson-Kelly, Peter Bungart, and get their perspectives on what was happening. I mean, Loretta was there back in the beginning, and that’s some of the people that–
I just made a note to add Loretta to my interview list. I think she’d be, (speaking simultaneously) she’d be an excellent interview.
She’d be great. Yeah.
That’s one of the later questions I was going to ask is who to, who else do you think we should, we should talk to. So thank you for bringing these names up.
Sure. Yeah. And Loretta works for the corporation now, so I think, I’m pretty sure she’d be available.
Yeah. And it will be great to talk to Kurt and Mike. I’m sure you have those on your list.
Yeah, we’re looking forward–we’re talking to Kurt tomorrow morning (speaking simultaneously).
Kurt, tomorrow. Good.
Yeah, looking forward to that.
Yeah, it should, he should have good input for you.
Um, one of the questions on my list is, what do you think you accomplished, personally and as a representative for the Hualapai Tribe? Anything in particular that you–?
Well, as I mentioned before, those fourteen years that we collected baseline wildlife population data. That was, that data is still available, and can be used to compare the future surveys or whatever. So we might get a better handle on (pause) on how things are changing under different, under different climate, under different dam operations, under more oft–more frequent high flow events, under different vegetation cha–regimes. And I think, you know, that database is, it was one of those things that I accomplished that I, that I think is important to the program, and it–well, no, not doing anything with it now, but someday in the future maybe that will be worth looking at again.
You feel confident that, um, about the value of, of collecting baseline data, baseline scientific–
And we, so we did a synthesis in 2007 of all of our years of surveying, and the GCMRC should have that report. I–it’s at my old office, and I don’t think I could find it anymore, but–
And that’s for the lower river?
Yeah. That’s for below Diamond Creek.
Okay. Yeah, we’ll look for that. Awesome.
So, and then I’ve tried to, you know (pause) get the, the people to listen to the tribal perspectives, trying to integrate tribal knowledge, tribal perspectives into the program, and I’ve tried to get people to focus more on below Diamond Creek, too. I don’t know that I was successful in some of those things, but I’ve been trying to, to–
To some extent you feel like you’ve made some headway (speaking simultaneously), just not enough?
Just not enough (laughter). But, um, and just keeping the tribe informed about what the issues are, and what’s important, and what things are coming up that they need to know about, that kind of thing, so that they can make their decisions on what their positions are.
So despite some of the lack of progress, some of the frustrations, um, do you feel like, um, this overall effort to create a collaborative group of diverse stakeholders to, you know, come together to try to determine how to manage Glen Canyon Dam to protect and recover downstream resources, do you feel like that’s been a worthy endeavor?
I do. Yeah. Because I think what they’ve realized is, it’s a very complex ecosystem, and it’s very difficult to predict what the outcomes of management actions or dam operations are on all the various different resources, and that there’s very complex linkages between resources that, you know, are going to take a lot more work to understand. (Pause) And I’ve–but I think overall the program has been moving forward and doing good things for the resources and, it’s just [a] very complex ecosystem. And, um (pause) and I think the tribes can be of great help to understanding some of those linkages, and I think it’s important to get more tribal members involved, not just representatives of the tribe, but tribal members, whose families have lived on the river for example. I think that would be a positive thing, but, I don’t–
You mentioned that a little earlier. Can you give a few more examples of ways in which you would like to see more tribal members actually involved in the program itself? Besides taking, you mentioned taking elders down the river in rafts [Anonymous: um-hmm] and getting more people involved in monitoring resources. Any other ways that you can see that would be beneficial to get tribal members involved?
Well, personally, I think it would be nice to hear, to be able to sit down with tribal members and hear what their thoughts are on different issues. What do you think about these floods that they’re doing down the river? How do you think about the, what do you think? And maybe that’ll come out of the archive project. Maybe those questions have been asked in the interviews. I personally haven’t listened to any of those interviews. A lot of them are in Hualapai, and they need to be translated as well, but, um–so maybe there’s some valuable information that can be used. But, just me personally, I would just like to hear what they have to say about how the river is and how operations of the dam does or doesn’t affect the resources. And I’m guessing that–well, I don’t know. I’d be guessing.
Um, uh, you’re a professional biologist with training, what do you think about citizen science?
I think it’s great. [P.H.: Yeah.] The work that they’ve done with the bugs and stuff, in the upper river, I think, it’s been really helpful. I mean, that’s an easy way to collect a lot of data and, um (pause) and it would be really expensive to get, have a professional biologist out there doing it, you know. So I think it’s really good. Um, and then I would like to see it used wherever possible, you know, bat monitors or something like that, I don’t know. And people love to go on the river and do stuff like that, you know? [P.H.: Yeah, yeah.] So I think wherever it can be promoted, it should be.
And people can be trained in proper ways of recording and collecting data.
Yeah. It’s not rocket science, for sure.
(Laughing) Crowdsourcing, we call it nowadays.
So, um, you mentioned, earlier, a surprise. One of the questions is what did, did you encounter any environmental or social, political or scientific surprises during your tenure, and you did mention that you were most surprised at the way that tribes were, maybe, not, uh, treated as, you know, full-fledged, equal members of the stakeholder groups. Any other things that you didn’t ex–you found that, that were unexpected?
(Pause.) I’m trying to think of something biological that I found–well, I was uh, it had–was surprising that, how large a change in the vegetation community had happened over the, you know, several decades. That was very surprising.
Can I ask you about that? You said when the water was higher, um, you, you had a suppression of tamarisk and a recovery of, uh, cottonwood and willow. I’m assuming you mean, you know, from, like, 1983, when there was that huge flood and uh, and the reservoirs were almost full again, at least, you know, Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell behind it were full in ’83, ’84 from those huge rain events. I assume Hoover was, too. Was it that decade from ’83 to ’93 or whatever, where that happened? And then as drought reduced the reservoirs the tamarisk came back in again?
I think it was, and, uh–I know the lake was full, Lake Mead was full in the year 2000. So, it was the years leading up to that.
So it’s only been since 2000 that Lake Mead has lost all that water? Because it’s, I think it’s at 37 percent capacity right now, and it’s been sitting there for four or five years, at least.
Wow, that’s a rapid draw down.
Yeah. In 2000 is when the drought hit. And, uh, we had a wet year in 2005, but other than that, it’s been drought every year. So it’s been drought for the past sixteen, seventeen years.
So that’s the period in which you had the tamarisk again reasserting itself, and along, uh, the river?
I believe so, yeah. Well, for sure we would have lost the willows, when the lake went down.
Was that because of, um, the de-watering there– (Both talking at same time).
It was the drought, yeah, the drought.
Uh, tamarisk are not phreatophytes like cottonwoods and willows? They can survive without their root systems being in water all the time?
They’re better at that, yeah.
Okay. So that’s why. So, um, this, kind of, a climate change question for you. As a biologist, it sounds to me like one of the implications of, um, of a warming and drying climate, uh, is the spread of more tamarisk and the loss of some of our native, uh, cottonwood and willow [both talking at once]–
Well, the only saving grace is the tamarisk leaf beetle [imported as a natural control mechanism to help reduce tamarisk survival], that’s affecting the tamarisk along the river now. Where, I–I’m not sure we’ve seen widespread mortality, but we are losing tamarisk along the river due to the leaf beetle.
And do cottonwoods and willows come back in when the tamarisk is suppressed like that?
I don’t think we’ve had enough time to see that yet. But, um (pause) I don’t know if you know, Reclamation has supported a pilot project from this department to plant willows and cottonwoods down on the river. Only the–at two sites, this summer, we’ve planted, I don’t know how many trees. Sixty, seventy trees, and we were watering them and, um, so hopefully, you know, even if we have to do it that way we can get the native species back.
Do you have the money to both continue that program and monitor its effects?
We can monitor, um (pause) I’m not, hmm (pause) not sure what year that, that funding runs out. I think this is the last year for that funding. So we’ve got them planted, at least, and they’re doing good, um, we’ll just see if we can keep that going.
Are you thinking in any other ways about how, um, the (pause) climate change, it’s, the likely directions that we’re going. I mean, nobody knows what the climate’s exactly going to be like [Anonymous: Right] in ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty years, but we have a pretty strong idea of the trends. We know we’re warming and drying almost certainly [Anonymous: Right], and precipitation patterns are shifting, and we’re likely to have more periods of drought, but potentially heavier rains when they do come. Are you thinking, both as a biologist and a representative of the Hualapai Tribe, about, you know, uh, adaptive management in the future, to sort of adapt to these potential changes based on climate change?
Well, that’s one, one reason that we’re doing this restoration project, is maybe in the future we will have to go down and physically plant, remove–well, we removed tamarisk and we’re physically planting native species, so in the future we might have to adapt in that manner. Um, but–
How about wildlife, or–?
Me personally, I, I’m thinking, well, like you said, it’s going to get hotter and drier and I haven’t really looked to the, that far down the road, thinking what, what’s going to happen. But again, having a database, baseline data, from back in the ’90s and 2000s, we can, if we get funding in the future, we can see if it’s, if, if, what it’s doing to the wildlife populations.
Do you know if the Hualapai Tribe has created a kind of their own Desired Future Conditions statement or document?
I do–I do not believe so.
Would that be something that you think would be useful?
I do think it would be useful. And that would be a good way to get the tribal council involved, and elders. What, you know, because this is your land, what is your vision for the land? And we’ve never had that kind of input. (Pause.) And I would think all the tribes want to go through a process like that.
So you acknowledge that you think the program, um, with all its flaws, the program has been valuable, it’s worthy. Do you think it should be continued? And if so, what improvements might you make to be even more satisfied with its results?
I do feel it should be continued. (Pause.) Well, I think if, if there could be more integration of tribal perspectives and tribal knowledge in the program, that would be helpful. Um, I would hope that there would be less (pause) divisiveness among stakeholders, like there would be, that’s a better, a better way to work together, instead of thinking that everybody has their own agenda and, which kind of is the way it seems that it is now, everybody has their own agenda, [sound of train in background] and if we can all look at other people’s perspectives and try to understand where they’re coming from, and if we could all work together better, I think that would be beneficial.
Can you think of any specific ways that that could be promoted? Like how might the, the sort of, the human dimensions of the adaptive management program be tweaked in order to encourage more of this sharing of goals and perspectives, rather than competition?
I think, um, recreate some of these committees that we had in the past, where people were working together to get Desired Future Conditions, stuff like that. And I don’t know why those committees were disbanded when they were, but, um, I thought it was beneficial for me to sit down with other stakeholders, get their perspectives on things, and work toward a common goal of improving humpback chub habitat, or improving sediment resources, or whatever they need.
So let me ask you to clarify how that would be different than, um, all the stakeholders sitting around in one room at the AMWG meetings, and a smaller number of technical people sitting together in the TWG meetings.
I think it just gets less, it’s more informal, and smaller groups, and they can be more effective at hashing out the issues and, and then, and then they ultimately bring it back to the TWG, and the TWG discuss it. And so I think it’s just a smaller-scale process.
So sort of like committees and subcommittees that hash things out and then bring them back–you can get more, you learn more about each other, you can negotiate more face-to-face than in the great big rooms. [[Anonymous: Yeah]. Or it’s like you said, in some instances you raise your hand for an hour and a half and nobody calls on you. That doesn’t happen in a small group and that’s–
Okay. I get it. So are you hopeful that–you know, that, the program is funded by the federal government through hydropower revenues from Glen Canyon Dam.
There’s a, I don’t know, there’s a significant chance that, you know, ten or fifteen years down the road, Glen Canyon Dam might not even have enough–or Lake Powell might not have enough water to even be generating hydropower if this drought continues. Are you hopeful that the program will continue–
Very much so, but one of your questions, um, with the current administration, current president [Donald Trump] and administration, I’m very fearful that the program might not get the support that it needs. And I’m hoping that there’s enough laws on the books, the Grand Canyon Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act and the National Historic Preservation Act, that they can’t just cut–cut off the funding for the program. I’m hopeful. But what we, we heard recently was that there would be a, whatever that is, um (pause) directed WAPA [Western Area Power Administration] to send money back to the general fund, US general fund, instead of–that’s usually earmarked for the Glen Canyon program and other environmental programs. And that’s going to be an issue that’s discussed at the next AMWG meeting, next week. [P.H.: Really?] That’s going to be, like, the first topic addressed. Because yeah, they were pulling the plug on the program.
I remember right after the Trump administration came in, they also put a hold on all expenditures by federal advisory committees and this is under FACA [Anonymous: Yeah], F-A-C-A [Federal Advisory Committee Act]. And, uh, there was a, a period of time, several months long in which the folks, the AMWG people, didn’t even know whether they would be allowed to meet, and they had this meeting scheduled and they had to postpone it. So, um, so you’re hearing this is continuing under the Trump administration, kind of hostility to implementing–
Environmental programs, yeah. And so, we just received, last week, our funding for 2018 participation in the Glen Canyon Program. From Reclamation.
And we’re in the 2019 fiscal year right now, right?
Now it’s into 2019 (laughing). Yeah. So, and a lot of that was because of, the Trump administration said that anything over 100,000 dollars, we need to review and evaluate it. And so that was a very long process. And so, I don’t know what it’s going to look like in the future. (Pause.) But it’s kind of scary. It will be interesting. I’m not going to be at the AMWG meeting, but it will be interesting to hear what the results of the discussion are–and then, the federal government, so far, has been kind of dancing around it. Not really [unintelligible] they’re all saying, “Well we really don’t know what’s going to happen, we don’t really don’t know what’s going to happen.” And somebody’s got to know. Because we’re–it’s right around the corner, you know, the end of September is the new fiscal year.
And all the, um, all the (pause). So as I understand it from a previous interview with Dave Garrett, that research programs are funded for, in five-year chunks.
It’s three-year chunks now.
Three-year chunks? Okay.
Reviewed every year, though.
They’re reviewed every year. And so people are waiting for ongoing research programs, um, to get the next chunk of funding for the next year of work [Anonymous: Yeah], and nobody knows whether that money is going to be held up or–
Yeah. And this is 2019 we’re, funding we’re talking about. Which is the last year of the three-year funding cycle, and then we’d be going through another planning process for the next group of three-year projects. So (pause) that’s kind of a little scary, but I’m hoping that those laws that are in place, that they can’t just say, “No, we’re not going to monitor the Grand Canyon resources anymore.”
There would certainly be several lawsuits (laughter) by several interest groups [Anonymous: Yeah] if they tried to do that, I’m sure. Well, I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Um, one of the, uh, last important questions is asking you for advice on what you, what advice would you give to, uh, new members of the Technical Work Group or the AMWG. New people coming on to represent—let’s say for example, you step down as the Hualapai representative on the TWG in the next few years, what would you say to your replacement about how to be an effective member, how to understand the process?
I would say that it’s important to get to know all the stakeholders, get to learn what their perspectives are, learn where they’re coming from. Get to know the river, where there’s issues, where things are happening and what’s going on and, and be open to working with a diverse group of stakeholders and, um, be open to working with people that don’t have the same viewpoints as you might have. That would be my main message, I mean. And, you know, it’s all about the resources to me, and us, and it’s not–yeah, it’s about the resources–preserving resources. That’s, to just keep that in perspective as well.
When you say preserving the resources, can you sort of identify the key resources that you’re most concerned about preserving?
First thing, I’m most concerned about the riparian vegetation, the riparian species. Because, you know, I was trained as a riparian ecologist in the past. That–I think it’s important to ask that the tribes and ask the other stakeholders, “What’s important to you?” And you know, this, this program is driven a lot by laws, the Endangered Species Act, we do a lot of stuff for humpback chub. We did all that stuff for beaches because of recreational rafting interests, and we do a lot of stuff for culturally important resources because there’s a law that protects them as well. So, but I think to the Hualapai Tribe, all the resources are important.
Is there anything else you’d like to add as we get close to wrapping this up? (Speaking simultaneously) Any other people that we should interview?
Other people, yeah. Clay Bravo, I don’t know if you’re familiar with him. He’s on the tribal council. He was one of the first ones that got the tribe a spot at the table.
Ah, Clay Bravo. [Anonymous: uh-huh.] B-R-A-V-O. [Anonymous: mm-hmm.] And he, is he still on the tribal council?
He’s on the tribal council. Um, and like I mentioned, Dawn Hubbs, whose office is right over there, Loretta [Jackson-Kelly], Peter Bungart. He’s the new director here.
And, uh, I met her at an AMWG meeting that you were at when we talked that one– okay.
And she’s, she’s currently the representative, but she’s been replaced by Peter Bungart, and I’m being replaced by a council member as the alternate. I’m still on the TWG as far as I know. (Pause.) As far as I know. (Pause.) Um, I don’t know if you’ve heard the name Steve Carothers?
Yes. He was recommended by a couple other people and he’s on my list as a possibility.
Yeah, he’s worked the canyon. And then some of the people that I think are important, people like Larry Stevens, Cliff Barrett, Don Ostler, Leslie James.
Who’s Don Ostler and who’s Leslie James?
He represents, Don Ostler represents Colorado, Leslie James represents CREDA [Colorado River Energy Distributors Association]. Um, they’ve been very outspoken and they’re very level-headed, and they, and they kind of look at the big picture. And then there’s people that are no longer in the program that would be good. Amy Heuselin was really good. She was a BIA employee.
How do you spell her last name?
L-A-N, or I-N?.
And she was with the BLM [Bureau of Land Management]?
You probably already know Steve Spangle, who just retired from the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Steve Spangle? [Speaking to Jen Sweeney:] Is he on our list? I don’t think so. Cool. You’re giving us all kinds of good interviewees. Uh, S-P-E-N-G-L-E?
S-P-A-N-G-L-E. And he’s in the Phoenix area. Amy’s in the Phoenix area.
And, uh, Spangle is, uh, US Fish and Wildlife Service?
So he’d be involved in the endangered species, uh, [Anonymous: yeah] fish work. Okay.
And I don’t think there’s anything that you’ve written that I haven’t talked about. (Pause.) And I appreciate you coming here.
Yes. Thank you very much for the interview.
It’s a pleasure getting to know you better and–
I hope it helped.
Good luck with your hopes and dreams for the program.
Yeah. I hope it helps.
Are we done?
END OF INTERVIEW
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- Peach Springs, Arizona
Interview conducted by: Dr. Paul Hirt, Arizona State University and Jennifer Sweeney, Four East Historical Research, LLC. Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program Administrative History Project. Administered by Arizona State University Supported by a grant from the US Bureau of Reclamation.
None provided beyond what the subject offers in the interview.
Suggested Bibliographic Citation
Anonymous Subject. ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW. Transcript of recorded Interview conducted by Paul Hirt, Arizona State University, and Jennifer Sweeney, Four East Historical Research, LLC, on 14 Aug 2018, at Peach Springs, Arizona. Edited by Paul Hirt and Jennifer Sweeney.