Federal Register: December 12, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 238)
DOCID: FR Doc E6-20756
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
ACTION: Environmental statements; notice of intent:
DOCUMENT ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) and notice to solicit comments and hold additional public scoping meetings on the adoption of a LongTerm Experimental Plan for the operation of Glen Canyon Dam and other associated management activities under the authority of the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary).
Long-Term Experimental Plan for the Operation of Glen Canyon Dam and Other Associated Management Activities
In a Federal Register notice published on November 6, 2006 (71 FR 6498264983), and pursuant to Sec. 102(2)(C) of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended, and 40 CFR 1508.22, the Department of the Interior (Department), acting through the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), provided notice that the Department intends to prepare an EIS and conduct public scoping meetings for the adoption of a LongTerm Experimental Plan for the operation of Glen Canyon Dam and other associated management activities. This Federal Register notice, prepared pursuant to 40 CFR 1508.22, provides information on additional public scoping meetings, the purpose and need for the proposed action, and additional [[Page 74557]]
background on the LongTerm Experimental Plan.
The purpose of the LongTerm Experimental Plan is to increase understanding of the ecosystem downstream from Glen Canyon Dam and to improve and protect important downstream resources. The NEPA process would evaluate the implications and impacts of each of the alternatives on all of the purposes and benefits of Glen Canyon Dam as well as on downstream resources. The proposed plan would implement a structured, longterm program of experimentation (including dam operations, modifications to Glen Canyon Dam intake structures, and other nonflow management actions, such as removal of nonnative fish species) and monitoring in the Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam.
The proposed LongTerm Experimental Plan is intended to ensure a continued, structured application of adaptive management in such a manner as to protect, mitigate adverse impacts to, and improve the values for which Grand Canyon National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area were established, including, but not limited to natural and cultural resources and visitor use, consistent with applicable Federal law.
The LongTerm Experimental Plan will build on a decade of scientific experimentation and monitoring that has taken place as part of the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program, and will build on the knowledge gained by experiments, operations, and management actions taken under the program. Accordingly, Reclamation intends to tier from earlier NEPA compliance documents prepared as part of the Department's Glen Canyon Adaptive Management Program efforts, see 40 CFR 1500.4(i), 1502.20, and 1508.20(b), such as the 2002 Environmental Assessment prepared on adaptive management experimental actions at Glen Canyon Dam (Proposed Experimental Releases from Glen Canyon Dam and Removal of NonNative Fish).
Dates and Addresses: Two additional public scoping meetings will be
held to solicit comments on the scope of the LongTerm Experimental
Plan and the issues and alternatives that should be analyzed. The
meetings will serve to expand upon the input received from the Glen
Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program meetings and the recommendations
of the Adaptive Management Work Group (AMWG), a federal advisory
committee. Oral and written comments will be accepted at the meetings to be held at the following locations:
Written comments on the proposed development of the LongTerm
Experimental Plan may be sent by close of business on Wednesday,
February 28, 2007, to: Regional Director, Bureau of Reclamation, Upper
Colorado Region, Attention: UC402, 125 South State Street, Salt Lake
City, Utah 843181147, faxogram at (801) 5243858, or email at
Glen Canyon Dam, AZ; long-term experimental plan for operation, etc.,
Glen Canyon Dam was authorized by the Colorado River Storage Project Act (CRSPA) of 1956 and completed by Reclamation in 1963. Below Glen Canyon Dam, the Colorado River flows for 15 miles through the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area which is managed by the National Park Service. Fifteen miles below Glen Canyon Dam, Lees Ferry, Arizona, marks the beginning of Marble Canyon and the northern boundary of Grand Canyon National Park.
The primary purpose and major function of Glen Canyon Dam is water conservation and storage. The dam is specifically managed to regulate releases of water from the Upper Colorado River Basin to the Lower Colorado River Basin to satisfy provisions of the 1922 Colorado River Compact and subsequent water delivery commitments, and thereby allow states within the Upper Basin to deplete water from the watershed upstream of Glen Canyon Dam and utilize their apportionments of Colorado River water.
In addition to the primary purpose of water delivery, another function of Glen Canyon Dam is to generate hydroelectric power. Between the dam's completion in 1963 and 1990, the dam's daily operations were primarily undertaken to maximize generation of hydroelectric power in accordance with Section 7 of the CRSPA, which requires production of the greatest practicable amount of power.
Over time, concerns arose with respect to the operation of Glen Canyon Dam, including effects of operations on species listed pursuant to the Endangered Species Act. In 1992, Congress passed and the President signed into law, the Grand Canyon Protection Act which addresses potential impacts of dam operations on downstream resources in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Grand Canyon National Park.
The Grand Canyon Protection Act of 1992 required the Secretary to complete an environmental impact statement evaluating alternative operating criteria, consistent with existing law, that would determine how Glen Canyon Dam would be operated to both meet the purposes for which the dam was authorized and meet the goals for protection of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Grand Canyon National Park. The final environmental impact statement was completed in March 1995. The Preferred Alternative (Modified Low Fluctuating Flow Alternative) was selected as the best means to operate Glen Canyon Dam in a Record of Decision (ROD) issued on October 9, 1996. In 1997 the Secretary adopted operating criteria for Glen Canyon Dam (62 FR 94479448) as required by Section 1804(c) of the Grand Canyon Protection Act of 1992.
Additionally, the Grand Canyon Protection Act of 1992 requires the Secretary to undertake research and monitoring to determine if revised dam operations were achieving the resource protection objectives of the final EIS and ROD. These provisions of the Grand Canyon Protection Act of 1992 were incorporated into the 1996 ROD and led to the establishment of the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program, administered by Reclamation, and of the Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center within the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
The Adaptive Management Program includes a federal advisory
committee known as the AMWG, a Technical Work Group, a monitoring and
research center administered by the USGS, and independent review
panels. The Technical Work Group is a subcommittee of the AMWG and
provides technical advice and recommendations to the AMWG. The AMWG
makes recommendations to the Secretary concerning Glen Canyon Dam
operations and other management actions to protect resources downstream from Glen Canyon Dam consistent with
the Grand Canyon Protection Act and other applicable provisions of Federal law.
To improve scientific understanding of the downstream ecosystem,
periodic experimental releases from Glen Canyon Dam were conducted in
water years 1996 through 2006. Nonflow actions were also conducted,
including removal of nonnative fish and translocation of the
endangered Kanab ambersnail and humpback chub. Specific experimental actions included:
[cir] Mechanical removal of nonnative fish near the confluence of the Little Colorado River to benefit the humpback chub.
[cir] Fall constrained releases to test the conservation of sediment (6,500 to 9,000 cfs).
[cir] 2004 test of a BHBF at 42,000 cfs immediately following Paria River sediment inputs.
In addition, droughtinduced reductions in Lake Powell elevations caused an increase in dam release temperatures during 2003 to 2005. Considerable monitoring and research on endangered fish, sediment conservation, and other resources in the Grand Canyon were conducted in concert with these actions. Among other documents related to adaptive management experimentation, two Environmental Assessments and Findings of No Significant Impacts were prepared: Proposed Experimental Releases from Glen Canyon Dam and Removal of NonNative Fish (2002) and Proposed Experimental Actions for Water Years 20052006Colorado River, Arizona, in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Grand Canyon National Park (2004). These two documents can be found at the following Internet location: http://www.usbr.gov/uc/rm/gcdltep/index.html. Proposed Action
The proposed action is to develop and adopt a LongTerm Experimental Plan that will implement a structured, longterm program of experimentation (including dam operations, modifications to Glen Canyon Dam intake structures, and other nonflow management actions, such as removal of nonnative fish species) in the Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam.
Purpose and Need for Action
The purpose of the proposed action is to increase scientific understanding of the ecosystem downstream from Glen Canyon Dam and to improve and protect important downstream resources. Specific hypotheses to be addressed include the effect of dam release temperatures; ramp rates; nonnative control; and the timing, duration, and magnitude of BHBF releases. Adoption of a LongTerm Experimental Plan is needed to ensure a continued, structured application of adaptive management in such a manner as to protect, mitigate adverse impacts to, and improve the values for which Grand Canyon National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area were established, including, but not limited to natural and cultural resources and visitor use, consistent with applicable Federal law. Adoption of a LongTerm Experimental Plan will assist scientists, policy makers, and resource managers to better understand resource management options, tradeoffs and consequences, and assist in the longterm operations of Glen Canyon Dam.
The range of alternatives for the proposed action will be developed following recommendations provided by the AMWG and through information received from upcoming public scoping meetings. In addition, Reclamation will utilize information developed through prior meetings of the AMWG, Technical Work Group, and Science Planning Group as relevant information for the purposes of scoping the upcoming NEPA process and to develop the appropriate scope of analysis pursuant to 40 CFR 1508.25.
It is our practice to make comments, including names, home addresses, home telephone numbers, and email addresses of respondents, available for public review. Individual respondents may request that we withhold their names and/or home addresses, etc., but if you wish us to consider withholding this information you must state this prominently at the beginning of your comments. In addition, you must present a rationale for withholding this information. This rationale must demonstrate that disclosure would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy. Unsupported assertions will not meet this burden. In the absence of exceptional, documentable circumstances, this information will be released. We will always make submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, available for public inspection in their entirety.
Dated: November 17, 2006.
Rick L. Gold,
Regional DirectorUC Region, Bureau of Reclamation.
[FR Doc. E620756 Filed 121106; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310MNP
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
Dennis Kubly, Bureau of Reclamation,
telephone (801) 5243715; faxogram (801) 5243858; email at
GCDExpPlan@uc.usbr.gov. If special assistance is required regarding accommodations for attendance at either of the public meetings, please contact Jayne Kelleher at (801) 5243680, faxogram at (801) 5243858, or email at email@example.com no less than 5 working days prior to the applicable meeting(s).