Protect the Grand Canyon ecosystem in the face of inevitable Colorado River cutbacks
The Colorado River provides drinking water for 40 million people throughout major cities, Tribal Nations, and rural communities. It irrigates over 5 million acres of farm and ranch land and supports a robust recreation economy dependent on adequate Colorado River flows. All told, the Basin feeds a nationally relevant $1.4 trillion economy. Today, all that the Colorado River supports is at risk due to rising temperatures and severe drought driven by climate change, outdated river management, and overallocation of limited water supplies resulting in severe declines of water levels at Lake Powell and Lake Mead.
In the crosshairs of these realities is the Colorado River and its treasured Grand Canyon ecosystem. If flows through Glen Canyon Dam are overly constrained, the dramatically reduced river flows could make endangered fish more vulnerable, critical wildlife habitat less productive, and beaches and sandbars that are highly valued for vegetation stabilization and recreation more susceptible to being washed away entirely. Furthermore, these reduced flows would exacerbate disturbances to impact cultural resources and spiritual values derived from the Grand Canyon for thousands of years. Lastly, present day conditions open the door to high-risk circumstances in which non-native fish species like smallmouth bass and green sunfish can breach past Glen Canyon Dam and thereby threaten multiple at-risk species of fish and destabilize the overall balance of the aquatic ecosystem in the Grand Canyon.
Please join us in urging the Bureau of Reclamation to recognize that there are important links between human health, stable communities, and the environment and to implement measures to better balance water supply and demand that consider and protect the life promoting resources of the Grand Canyon ecosystem.