A road collapse south of Page has closed US-89 until further notice. US-89 is closed northbound at US-89A. In Page, US 89 is closed at the junction with State Route 98. Traffic is being detoured around closure utilizing SR-98 & US-160. US-89A is open.
Quagga Mussel Monitoring Update
Find the latest on Invasive Mussel Monitoring news. Click on this link:
Lake Powell Mercury Consumption Advisory
Public Health, Environmental and Wildlife agencies from Utah and Arizona are jointly issuing a mercury fish advisory for striped bass in the southern portion of Lake Powell from Dangling Rope marina to the dam. Read more here:
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They left cryptic symbols carved into canyon walls that detailed life experiences and spiritual beliefs. They built stone structures with clay and sandstone blocks to store their food, and shelter themselves from the elements. They traveled over the landscape by wagon, horseback, and handcart. People have called this area home for thousands of years, and their descendants still call it home today. The Glen Canyon Dam completed in 1963, flooded Glen Canyon to create one of the largest reservoirs North America, Lake Powell. Lake Powell makes up a mere 13 percent of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. The lake sits in the middle of an immense wilderness, providing amazing opportunities to find solitude in a far removed corner of the Colorado Plateau. Whether hiking or boating, your Glen Canyon experience occurs at the intersection of past and present, creating implications for a future that is uncertain. While millions of people visit this park every year, they're certainly not the first to visit this landscape. Glen Canyon possesses a rich cultural history that spans the past 10,000 years. We've documented approximately 2,500 sites on this landscape. These sites represent the history of Native American occupation in the region. Examples include habitation, and storage architecture, pictographs and petroglyphs, as well as artifact scatters. These sites also represent early Spanish exploration into the region. As well as Mormon settlement, ranching, and mining communities. These sites are important not only for what they can tell us about the past thousands of years ago, but also serving as daily reminders of the rich heritage entrusted to us. Unfortunately, many cultural sites have sustained irreparable damage from vandalism, graffiti, littering, and theft. This Spanish inscription left in the year 1776, is now hardly recognizable because Rob and Kathi felt the need to leave their mark here. In the same century Genghis Khan conquered Northern China, and the crusades were taking place in Europe, a Native American placed these stones atop one another to build a house. When the first eyeglasses were invented, and the Ottoman Empire began, a Native American painted these symbols onto the canyon walls. These parallel histories collided in the late 15th century when the first Europeans crossed the Atlantic Ocean, and changed the cultural landscape of this continent, forever. When cultural sites are damaged the people who called this place home, their history is lost. Those Indian Pueblos, the pottery sherds, the stone tools, the historic pioneer cabins. They're important to archaeologists, because they tell us who was here, and when. They give us a sense of the significance of this place. Those sites and artifacts are also important to the descendants of those who made this place home. They include the Hopi, the Zuni, the Navajo, Spaniards, Hispanics, Mormons. You may be among those descendants. When sites are vandalized, their heritage, your heritage, and our collective national heritage, is destroyed. While modern history is written in books, and stored on computers. Ancient history is carved into sandstone walls, and perched precariously on sandstone cliffs. Imagine our most symbolic landmarks defaced or destroyed. The Statue of Liberty, the Constitution, the Library of Congress, or the American Flag. One can only imagine what a culture with history spanning thousands of years into the past experiences, when their most sacred, historic landmarks, are lost. Our ancestral people lived here. They flourished here, They established villages, they put petroglyphs on the walls to remind us of that history. So when these cultural resources are vandalized, or disturbed, or are caused any adverse actions, the Hopi people feel a loss. Because many of these cultural resources are irreplaceable. So I hope that through good education the visiting public can join the Hopi people, and the Park Service, and become stewards of the land. When you explore the remote areas of Glen Canyon, you walk in the footprints of someone you will never meet. The footprints of a person who lived here hundreds of years ago, and called this place home. When you boat on these waters, you have unprecedented access to places that are still sacred to many people today. When you cherish, when you honor, when you protect the special places, you become a champion of Glen Canyon's shared history, and a steward of Glen Canyon's rich cultural legacy. We love the lake, but much more than the lake, we love what's around the lake that portion which is above the water. There have been people coming here for thousands of years before me. And it's really important that we protect the things that they've done here. My ancestors actually traveled through this area through the Hole in the Rock. Up on the north side of the lake. So my family has a close cultural and historical tie to this lake. I believe in protecting Glen Canyon cultural resources because it's been thousands of years, and once they're gone they're gone forever. It's so much history, that we shouldn't have to destroy it, or damage it because other people want to enjoy it. I see myself as a steward of Glen Canyon Recreation Area because when people - when we - we go out and look at things, we look at them, we take pictures of them, but we don't go destroy them. We don't take home parts and pieces of them. It's all about looking at them, and enjoying them, so that they're available for many future generations to come. We are the champions of cultural resource protection at Glen Canyon! (Cheer)
Buried within the strata around Lake Powell, written into the layers of stone is the story of life that occupied this land long before people arrived here. Fossils are a common occurrence within Glen Canyon, and tell a long and rich history of changes in environments, plants, and animals which come and gone over the eons. They tell us that Glen Canyon was once an ocean; it was once a swamp, a dense forest and even a desert larger than the Sahara Desert today. These ancient environments are preserved in stone and the animals that called them home were occasionally trapped, frozen in place for millions of years before finding their way back to the surface at the hands of erosion, and time. The animals that lived in this area left behind evidence of their presence in the form of trace fossils such as dinosaur footprints and body fossil such as bones, teeth, and shells. This evidence that they leave behind tells us about the diversity of life that lived in this area millions of years ago. And each of these organisms that we find helps give us a better picture of what the environment looked like so many years ago. While exploring Glen Canyon you may encounter strange rock formations like mud cracks ancient ripple marks, or the footprints of animals that lived here millions of years ago. Use your imagination to visualize what this area must have been like when these layers were deposited. The same forces that changed and shaped the world then, are shaping the world today. You're not as far removed from these chapters in history as time might lead you to believe. Please remember that fossils are irreplaceable time capsules millions of years in the making, and they provide the only connection we have to ancient worlds we will never see. The park has a great abundance of fossils, and we monitor their health over time. The reason to monitor their health is that we want to know what is affecting these fossil sites, and if that's causing long-term destruction or degradation of the sites. When we monitor the sites, we're looking for natural changes such as erosion, natural erosion, and rock falls. We're also looking for any impacts from visitors such as graffiti. The reason that we have want to monitor the sites is we're looking to their future, and we want to ensure that these sites are present for future generations to discover as well. You are fortunate to live on the planet so good at preserving its own natural history. Glen Canyon contains evidence of radical changes this area has undergone. Tossed across geologic time, and preserved in the layers of rock visible around the park. These are what make Glen Canyon a special place for scientists, for visitors who come here and stare at the layers of strata with a sense of wonderment, and let their imaginations take them back to a time when ancient sea creatures would be swimming above their heads, or one thousand foot tall sand dunes swept across a desert as far as the eye could see. This is a place to witness time layered atop itself like the pages in the book, just waiting to be opened, and read.
My name is Mark Anderson. I'm an aquatic ecologist with the National Park Service here at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. I've been at Glen Canyon for the last ten years. I've been in four different positions here at Glen Canyon, all within aquatic resources. I have a masters of science in environmental science from the University of North Texas and Denton Texas. Glen Canyon was aware of the mussel threat before most other entities in the western United States. Primarily through the efforts of a group of scientists in Salt Lake City in 1998. They had predicted at that time, that mussels would make it into the western United States, and that when they did they were probably going to show up in Lake Powell first. This was quite an alarming thing for the Park Service to hear, for people of the state of Utah to hear, and hearing that, Glen Canyon began with the very next year, 1999, trying to characterize - what is the risk from the mussel infestation that exists in the eastern United States to Lake Powell? How many boats do we have coming from there? We did that simply by counting license plates in parking lots to start off with, and we found that in a busy weekend you might find 70 empty boat trailers in Wahweap Marina that are from states that have this mussel infestation. And so we judged the threat to be pretty significant. With the very next year, realizing that, we began our prevention program. Where we began asking people when they came through our entrance gates if they had a boat, or a kayak, or water toys, anything that's going to come in contact with the water, where those things have been used most recently - really in the past thirty days. If it was from one of these states that had a mussel infestation then we would ask them to voluntarily allow us to inspect it and potentially decontaminate it. In 2002 we found our first boat that had been trailered to Lake Powell with mussels attached. That was very alarming; it made this issue real for some people for the first time. Based on that, the voluntary aspect of, "Can we look at your boat?" went away. Where if we identify your boat as high risk you're required to show it to us or you can't launch it on Lake Powell, as simple as that. Then in 2007, the unfortunate news that quagga mussels had been discovered in Lake Mead came out in January. Glen Canyon knew that was going to really up the risk level. Whatever risk level we were at before, now we are off the scale, because we share a whole lot of boaters with Lake Mead. And of course the way these things are transported around primarily is by riding with people's boats from one place to the next. And so based on that we had to really get busy developing an expanded program to deal with this new level of risk. What makes the zebra mussels different, worse in many ways than any other aquatic invasive species that we have in the United States, is their ability to attach to hard surfaces. They use these bissel threads. This allows them to attach to a rock, or to a boat, or to whatever. Even then to attach on top of themselves. They reproduce in huge numbers. Each female can produce a million offspring each year and these offspring then come and attach onto layers that were previously there and these layers can build up to 18 inches thick. Some of the impacts that would be experienced by recreational users of Lake Powell if we got these mussels... Including the things that have to do with their boat. Using more gas, and not going as fast, and potentially overheating somewhere out on the lake. But not only that, when they attach to rock walls in a reservoir like Lake Powell with the level going up and down so much, they would be left and stranded up on the walls where then they would begin to decompose and stink. Potentially if they were numerous enough, the whole basin could be filled with the stench of rotting shellfish. They also, their shells wash up on beaches and can cut people's feet. I've seen pictures of feet cut horribly from somebody stepping out of a boat onto a rock where these mussels are attached. The edges of their shells of are real sharp. It would be a terrible impact likely to the fishery. These mussels, each one is capable of filtering a liter of water each day. That doesn't sound like necessarily a whole lot, only one liter of water. But they can get such huge numbers down there that it's a lot altogether. When they do that they're pulling out all the plankton, all the things that we were seeing in that sample that we pulled from Lake Powell. And that's the stuff that's supporting the food chain. So the phytoplankton are being eaten by the zooplankton, the zooplankton are being eaten by the little fish, and the little fish are being eaten by the big fish. And then people like to catch those big fish. If we get zebra mussels here that whole process stops and we don't have as many of the big fish unfortunately. The costs of these mussels are extreme. Not only locally to the affected water body. I believe the Bureau of Reclamation reported an increase in their operating costs at Hoover Dam, just in the very first year of these things being discovered, at 1.8 million dollars. Of course, when they have additional costs to maintain their facility and be able to keep operating, that cost is passed on down ultimately to the consumer... where all water and power users will pay for these infestations in the west. The most important message for people to get from this entire thing is to clean, drain, and dry, your boat. There are hundreds, thousands of potential invasive aquatic species out there. Zebra and quagga mussels are just examples. They have particularly terrible impacts. So they can get people's attention. But this is a much, much larger issue. Ever since people have been moving equipment around from one water body to another this has been a problem. Things that get associated with that equipment from one water body get taken to another one and then they're able to establish. Aquatic invasive species generally can't spread on their own other than just downstream. They can't walk from one water body to the next, they can't fly there. So the way that they move around is by riding with people. And so if everybody just knew - when you pull out of a water body you need to look your trailer over real carefully, your boat trailer, the whole thing. Remove any obvious plants or organic matter that might be there. Let any water that's captured be released. Remove the drain plug, empty the live wells. Take it to a car wash, or in your backyard. Just spray it off, just get it good and clean, and then let it dry for a few days. There are very few aquatic invasive species that could potentially still be associated with that boat. And if everybody did that, this would not be an issue.
Where do these resource managers come from? How do they find jobs, with the park service and other federal entities? Well I'll tell you how. Something happen to them somewhere along their life's path. There was a calling for them to protect resources that don't have voices. As resource managers here at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, our job is to attempt to, not only preserve and protect the resources for future generations, but also use best management practices. This includes the use of the most current and recent scientific research. You can imagine that protecting aquatic resources at Glen Canyon against all potential future threats is very open ended, there's no clear guidance of what to do. That's why the park needs somebody that understands these systems, understands the threats, and understands ways to mitigate those threats and to deal with them. There are communities like Latter-Day Saints and American Indians who need to come back to these places in order to continue their cultural traditions. To remember the histories and stories that were critical in their formation as communities. We have botanists, we have archaeologists, we have restoration ecologists, we have aquatic ecologists, and all of those folks in their various expertise make up an entire division that goes into protecting a landscape like this. So one of the great challenges we have in Science and Resource Management at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is that we have a larger land mass than actually Grand Canyon National Park and yet, we have that acreage in land set aside by congress for recreation. so the recreational interface is high. So we want to reach out to visitors and let folks know, that we're managed by the same policies that guide decisions in Yosemite, in Yellowstone, and Grand Canyon. And so a lot of ways working at Glen Canyon in Science and Resource Management is even more challenging, because people come here to jump on their boats, and they want to get on the beaches, and they want to carve their names in rocks, and they want to throw their trash, and they may not have the same environmental ethic that they would possess going into a Yellowstone. So it creates us with a lot of challenges to reach out to that visitor, to let them know that this in fact is National Park unit, and it is to be protected as such. I serve as the chief of aquatic resource management. What that means I do, is that I look out for the aquatic resources at Glen Canyon. We want to make sure that they are as good for future generations as they are for us. At the same time we want to provide for recreation on these things, and so I'm supposed to be on top of any threats to those interest, and to develop management policies that will prevent any problems from occurring. My program here is the natural resources program, the terrestrial branch. And that includes a variety of different programs that I'm responsible for. One of them is wildlife biology. We do a lot of work with Big Horn, and various bird species and mammals. I also am the Botanist. That entails variety of programs the most important being weeds and exotic plant control. But there is also threatened and endangered species, that are also plants. There's also just plain Botany, Which is the description of vegetation, floristic surveys and management of the plant resources in the park. I am the lead for cultural resources at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Rainbow Bridge National Monument. You might ask the question, what are cultural resources? That's a legitimate question. It's government term for your human history on a federal landscape. One of the primary issues at Glen Canyon that many people may be aware of is good water quality in Lake Powell. With millions of people using Lake Powell each year, there are many beaches that are camped on just night after night after night, all summer long. When people come to Glen Canyon they stay for a fair period time. In fact, Glen Canyon used to have the largest average stay in the National Park System. Because people will generally come and get on a boat, and stay out there for about a week and so our average day was about four and a half days which is considerably longer than any other park. Exotic plant species have been arriving pretty much every year in this is part of the world. They vary however, we have about 80 to 90 species in the park that are from other parts of the world like Europe, or Eurasia. And a few from South America, and Australia. But most of them are not a real big concern for us. Basically a lot of my work in exotic plant control is to determine which species are invasive, in other words which species can invade native plant communities in and outcompete the native plant species and cause local extinctions of native plants and animals. Currently we are working on about 8 to 10 species which we are really concerned about in Glen Canyon. Those who come to this landscape, to boat on Lake Powell to float the Colorado River behind me. It's places where you can enjoy yourself. That's our responsibility and part of our mission, is to ensure that you can come to these places and feel renewed by the sense of enjoyment that you experience. It's also for many of us, and as products and children of the American Culture. That we come to these beautiful natural places for a sense of spiritual renewal. When people think of aquatic resources at Glen Canyon everybody thinks of Lake Powell. Its only 13 percent of the Recreation Area, but it draws 90 percent of our visitors. This is what people come to Glen Canyon for, much more often than anything else. However, it's not the only aquatic resource in Glen Canyon. When you think about Glen Canyon and Lake Powell, obviously there are going to be rivers that flow into it. We've got 5 major rivers for this part of the country that flow into Lake Powell. We've got the Colorado River that flows out of the dam, and flows into Grand Canyon. A very significant aquatic resource that needs to be considered. We've got hundreds of springs and seeps, beautiful little desert Glens that get very full of vegetation, often have pools in the bottom that support a very lush assemblage of life, often down in the back of the canyon are some of the most beautiful places that exist anywhere on earth. These are driven by that water, these are aquatic resources. We are right now at the forefront and center of a new invasive exotic at is just beginning to appear on the horizon in the plateau and Americans Southwest. This is Ravenna Grass. It's a relative of sugar cane. It gets quite large and is extremely invasive and it can actually outcompete every other plant species on the landscape including other exotics. It has a tendency to take over along riparian zones which are really critically important for more than half of our wildlife species in the park. So I'm currently working on Ravenna Grass which is established in a few places around Lake Powell. We pull in public land core groups and National Park Service exotic control plant teams to go out, and we use chemical herbicides to spray on the leaves of the plants. Another of our worst weeds is actually Russian Olive, which has been planted widely throughout the west for wind breaks. In many cases it's not very invasive, but on the plateau and elsewhere in the intermountain west it's actually extremely invasive and moves into riparian zones and outcompetes the native cottonwoods and willows. And again, these are critical riparian corridors for much of our wildlife, as well as reservoirs of rare native plant species. Cultural resources are also potent, and very powerful symbols of political issues, economic issues. Some of the challenging issues we're dealing with here at Glen Canyon include the adaptive management plan for the Colorado River. When the Glen Canyon Dam was built, it's a water storage dam. We need to ensure not only that you have water and power, the dam itself is a cultural resource. It's important to our Nation, in our ability to carry on with our lifestyle here. It's also important that we protect the ecology of the Colorado River before the dam. And were working cooperatively with the Bureau Of Reclamation and the National Park Service, to ensure that you can both enjoy the lake, you can get the power and water you need for where you live, and that those remnants or relics of American Indian tribes who were here, ranchers... that those places are also protected. Dealing with such a huge system as Lake Powell. Monitoring is always a challenge when you consider our beach monitoring program, and that we want to monitor the beach areas, the shoreline of Lake Powell. When you consider that we've got 2,000 miles of shoreline for monitor in that effort. It makes our beach monitoring program the largest one in the world if you judging it by the shoreline distance that it covers. When you consider zebra mussel monitoring, and we needed to get out here and take samples over these 163,000 acres. That makes zebra mussel monitoring... that becomes a huge program to competently and effectively monitor a resource as large as Lake Powell. The size of Lake Powell complicates every aspect of the science that we want to do on it. Just makes it that it takes that much more to do. It takes that much more effort. You can't head out from one location and sample the entire reservoir, even in a in a very sparse way. Just because it will take more time than you've got just to drive the whole reservoir. And so we often having to go out on multi-day sampling trips where we're camping out on the Lake and we pick it up the next day. We do a lot of monitoring on the Lake that will require that kind of effort. With our beach monitoring program we can't keep our samples overnight because we're looking for bacteria in these samples. We've got six hours in which to get them back to the laboratory and begin the processing. And because of that we actually have to have two laboratories here at Lake Powell to conduct that monitoring program. Currently there are about 700,000 acres of our over 1,000,000 acres of land in the recreation area that are actually grazed, have been actively grazed for the last 10 to 20 years. Approximate 20,000 animal unit months, which basically boils down to a about 3,000 cows on the landscape typically in winter. So when you're visiting the lake, particularly in the off season, you're likely to see a few livestock on some of the lake's shores. Because there are still some areas where the cattle get down to the lake to get water. It's very dry landscape beyond lake, and so the lake has been fairly important not only on the north side, on BLM administered areas, but also on the Navajo Nation side where there also a lot of livestock ranchers. So one of the dilemmas that the Park Service is always faced since its establishment in 1916. Is how do we make decisions? For the most part early on we hired engineers, landscape architects of such, and we arbitrarily just made decisions based off what we thought was best for recreational tourism. Which obviously people - thousands of visitors come here on a daily basis to get a big dose of that recreational tourism feel. But over years and years we've learned that maybe the decisions we were making did not incorporate sound science and ecological concepts, and we've learned our lessons. On a landscape this large, sometimes you feel like you're not really achieving anything over a period of time. And sometimes we feel like we're actually backsliding to a certain extent. But I think in the long run, in my twenty years here. I have seen some changes in management. And I've been able to protect some areas, in some places... some special places on this landscape that make me feel like I've actually managed to do something good for the park. You can imagine that to protect aquatic resources, first off, you've got to understand these resources. It's not necessarily a simple question to understand the functioning, and what's important to keeping a resource good for current use and for future use. So that's where the Park Service will employ scientists in a roll like mine. As somebody that first, can through science understand what this resource is, and then be able apply that science to answer questions that have to do with what will the threats be? Or develop solutions to potential problems and check to see if those have followed up. Science is an important part of being able to properly manage something like aquatic resources. We in this country value National Parks, and we value them for places like this. Your ability to enjoy them. We've preserved the spaces so that you can come here and get renewed. You can be tourists, and be revived by the experiences here. One of the most amazing things about this landscape, and the fact that it's actually protected now, is not from a decision that I made or my predecessor made. It's in fact conversations, and thought process, and intuition that took place a hundred years ago with John Muir and Aldo Leopold. All these guys with their with their photographs and the aesthetic value that they portrayed to Congress and to the American public that ended up forcing them to set lands aside like this. Because they knew that as our population centers grew as urbanization occurred, and as we expanded, we would eventually consume most of North America. So thank goodness that they had the foresight to find our hidden jewels and set them aside for future generations.
A flash flood essentially is caused by an intense rain event over an impervious area. That's kind of the bottom line, and when you look at Southern Utah we have red sandstone covering a great deal of the area, and it's almost like a parking lot. So when you have an intense rain of probably an inch an hour, or more, that rain falls, it doesn't have anywhere to infiltrate. It runs off on top of the surface. And Southern Utah has very steep slopes, slot canyons a lot of relief. And when that amount of rainfall hits the ground it's spread out in a big area, well now it's running down into a central location. It goes into slot canyons, which are very steep, and picks up speed. And it's very cold, and now you've got this massive source of energy that's going to sweep you down the canyons. You can't escape, and it's a very dangerous situation. The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area has areas of high potential for flash floods. It has very steep slopes, it has impervious areas of red sandstone and other types of rock formations, and the lack of vegetation. All these combined make it for a very hazardous area for flash floods. So as the hydrologist for the National Weather Service what I do is... it's kind of a different job, I have three different parts. I do water supply forecasting in wintertime, snow hydrology, how much snow is in the mountains, how much is going to run off, how much water will we have in the reservoirs. I also do flash flood science, warnings, trying to predict the science of flash flooding. Where are they going to happen, how big will they be how long will it take? All the different aspects of flash flooding, and that's more of a safety part of my job. We're trying to keep people safe from flash floods, keep them away from them, and just try and... Keep people aware of what's going on flash flood wise in Southern Utah mostly.
Five American Indian tribes or nations claim a cultural affiliation with Rainbow Bridge. In 2009, as part of the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Rainbow Bridge National Monument, the National Park Service conducted oral history interviews with several members of each tribe. These videos are available below.