Groups to protest 100th anniversary of Bureau of Reclamation

Launching “Sediment-al Journey” to save the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park

provided by Living Rivers

n June 17, the nation's leading dam-building organization, the Bureau of Reclamation (BuRec), will be celebrating 100 years of river manipulation at Hoover Dam. Living Rivers, in conjunction with more than sixty other environmental and social justice organizations, will also convene at Hoover Dam that day, but will be articulating a much different message.

    “There's no cause for celebration; this should be a wake,” says Owen Lammers, executive director of Living Rivers. “Thousands of river miles, critical habitat for endangered species and the cultural heritage of a number of indigenous tribes have all been devastated by the 600 dams BuRec has constructed in the Western United States.”

    Nowhere is BuRec's damage more apparent than in the world-renowned Grand Canyon, just upstream of Hoover Dam. Twenty per cent of the Grand Canyon was inundated by Hoover Dam, while the remainder of the Canyon's river corridor is seeing its native ecosystem completely disappear as a result of BuRec's second largest dam, Glen Canyon, 370 miles upstream of Hoover.

    Glen Canyon Dam has changed the Colorado's natural flows, its seasonal variations in water temperature, sediment and nutrient deposition and fish migration into and out of Grand Canyon. “The Canyon's entire food web is being dramatically altered. Three of eight native fish species are gone and two more are on their way. The beaches, so revered by the Canyon's river runners, are going as well and all at the hands of BuRec,” says Michelle Harrington with the Center for Biological Diversity.

    To highlight the damage BuRec has caused, especially to Grand Canyon, the groups will be conducting a five-day, 700-mile, six-stop road show, which will conclude June 17, at Hoover Dam. Known as the Sediment-al Journey, they will be traveling by caravan led by a dump truck which will be collecting, then delivering, sediment and nutrients to the Grand Canyon ecosystem. According to Grand Canyon National Park's retired science director, Dave Haskell, “Lack of sediment in the canyon is a huge problem that needs to be dealt with now. Glen Canyon Dam presents the most serious threat to the Park.”

    “It's time for BuRec to get on with the task of decommissioning Glen Canyon Dam,” says Tori Woodard, conservation director of the Sierra Club's Glen Canyon Group, which is cosponsoring the Journey's kickoff rally near Moab, Utah on June 13. “BuRec must take responsibility for the damage it has caused and get on with the task of reviving the Colorado River.”

    “BuRec has submerged so many of our sacred sites and destroyed this principle artery of mother earth and vital part of our people's culture,” adds Thomas Morris, president of the Dine (Navajo) Medicinemens Association, which will be co-hosting the Journey's second stop adjacent to Lake Powell reservoir and at Glen Canyon Dam. first will be at Lee's Ferry, meeting with those preparing for launching their Grand Canyon river trips, then for a Grand Canyon gathering and folk concert at the amphitheater near the South Rim's concession area. Next it's off to Hoover Dam for the rally in advance of BuRec's official event.

    “The situation at Grand Canyon and the Colorado River are merely a sampling of the destruction BuRec has caused,” says Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth and veteran of more than 400 successful dam fights across the United States. “From the Columbia to the Rio Grande, BuRec has been wasting taxpayer money subsidizing low-value crop production for cattle feed. It's time to end this practice and bring these rivers back to life.”

    “It's bad enough that BuRec has dammed-up rivers here, but its destructive legacy extends to rivers all over the world. From the Amazon to the Yangtze, BuRec consultants have traveled the globe spreading their concrete message – something nobody should be celebrating,” adds Juliette Majot, executive director from International Rivers Network.

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