A sandbar along the left shore of the Colorado River near river mile 30 shortly before (top) and shortly after (bottom) the November 2004 high-flow experiment. People and boats indicate scale.
Grand Canyon National Park lies approximately 15 miles downriver from Glen Canyon Dam, which was built on the Colorado River just south of the Arizona-Utah border. Because the dam stops most sediment moving downstream, its presence has resulted in erosion and shrinkage of river sandbars in Grand Canyon. Fewer and smaller sandbars mean smaller camping beaches for visitors to use, continued erosion of cultural sites, and possibly less habitat for native fish, including the endangered humpback chub.
In an effort to restore sandbars and related habitat and to comply with its responsibilities under the Grand Canyon Protection Act, the Department of the Interior has proposed a high-flow release of water from Glen Canyon Dam in March 2008. The U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center is responsible for coordinating research associated with the proposed experiment. The proposed studies are designed to evaluate the feasibility of using such high flows to improve a range of Grand Canyon resources.
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