Home
What's New?
Articles
Newsletter
History
H.RES. 380
Testimony
Help Us!
Links
Quotable
Comments

1999 Friends of Lake Powell, Inc.
www.lakepowell.org
P.O. Box 7007
Page, AZ 86040 USA
(928) 645-2741  Fax: 928-353-2227

Prepared Statement of
Eluid L. Martinez, Commissoner
Bureau of Reclamation
Department of the Interior

before the

House Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands
House Subcommittee on Water and Power Resources

September 23, 1997

Mr. Chairmen, and members of the Subcommittees, thank you for the invitation to participate in today's oversight hearing on behalf of the Department of the Interior.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area was established by Congress on October 27, 1972 to encompass Lake Powell and surrounding lands. The recreation area includes approximately 1,235,000 acres. It was established to provide for public outdoor recreation use and enjoyment of Lake Powell and those lands in the states of Arizona and Utah and to preserve scenic, scientific and historic features of the area.

Each year, millions of visitors come to the area to enjoy the scenery and water activities including boating, water skiing, scuba diving and fishing. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area offers excellent opportunities for water-based and back country recreation.

Glen Canyon generates approximately $400 million for the local and regional economies attracting over 2.5 million national and international visitors to the area annually. Approximately 42.000 visitors float the waters between the Glen Canyon dam and Lees Ferry on concessioner float trips. Lodging accommodations within the recreation area total 456 rooms with an additional 600 campsites for tents and recreational vehicles. Over 700 houseboats and small boats available for rent are typically booked to capacity each summer season. Nearly 2,000 private boats are berthed at Lake Powell and over 1,500 dry storage spaces are available and used at capacity each summer. Even greater numbers of accommodations and services are provided by communities on the routes to and adjacent to the national recreation area.

Under the current management system of the entire Colorado River, spanning seven states, Glen Canyon Dam and Hoover Dam are the two key units around which the rest of the infrastructure revolves. The Colorado River Storage Project Act of 1956, which authorized Glen Canyon Dam, and the subsequent Colorado River Basin Project Act of 1968, are part of the "Law of the River" which also includes other Federal laws, three Compacts and Agreements, one Treaty, four sets of Criteria and Regulations, and opinions and decrees of the U.S. Supreme Court. In addition, the Grand Canyon Protection Act of 1992 mandates that an environmental management commitment be added to the historic management practices centered upon conservation storage and power generation.

The existing system is one that has essentially worked well. A mix of Federal law, recognizing certain authorities and responsibilities of the Secretary of the Interior, and state water laws have emerged. Lake Powell and Lake Mead provide the mid-point long-term carry-over storage facilities to help ensure that water deliveries pursuant to the 1922 Compact to the Lower Basin States will be made in times of prolonged drought, such as those experienced in the late 1980's, while preserving the Upper Basin States' ability to continue to develop their shares of the river, especially during droughts as we experienced in the late 1980's. The system also facilitates meeting the obligations of the United States to the Republic of Mexico, consistent with the Treaty of 1947.

Even though I recognize that long-time Reclamation supporters like Senator Barry Goldwater now consider building Glen Canyon to have been a mistake, it has been built and Lake Powell exists. Considering all of the above facts, proposals to drain Lake Powell are unrealistic.

The Department is focusing its efforts on implementing the Record of Decision concerning the Operation of Glen Canyon Dam Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). That Record of Decision was signed not quite one year ago from this hearing date.

That EIS was the most comprehensive study incorporating science-based data to be produced in the history of the Bureau of Reclamation. The level of public participation in development of the document was unprecedented. The mix of interests in the public process was complete, ranging from environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club, Trout Unlimited, and American Rivers to the purchasers of power from Glen Canyon Dam. All interests rolled up their sleeves and accepted the challenge of finding a better way to operate the dam in harmony with the treasured environmental values of the Grand Canyon. Many of those very participants took pride in joining the Commissioner of Reclamation on the podium as the draft EIS was released to the public in January of 1994.

The key to the preferred alternative in the Glen Canyon Dam EIS is a process called "Adaptive Management," by which the best science and the best management practices are blended to produce recommendations to the Secretary on how to protect the resources, meet the obligated storage and delivery responsibilities, as outlined in the Law of the River and comply fully with the Grand Canyon Protection Act of 1992. The recommendations of the Adaptive Management Work Group, which includes the full spectrum of interests plus the seven Basin States, Tribal Governments, and federal agencies, will be crucial to future decisions the Secretary makes. It is the Department's expectation that the committee will set an example that may be applied to other parts of the West.

Mr. Chairman, legislation was enacted in the last Congress through the Recreation Lakes provision of the "Omnibus Parks and Public Lands Management Act of 1996" which directed the President to appoint an advisory commission to review the opportunities for enhanced water-based recreation. One of the tasks of the Commission is to review the current and anticipated demand for recreational opportunities at Federally managed man-made lakes and reservoirs Lake Powell is one of the lakes being studied by the commission. It would seem prudent that the Congress would permit the Commission to complete its study and hear its recommendations prior to making any further decisions on modifying Lake Powell.

I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

For more information contact. friends@lakepowell.org