Park official says science on Grand Canyon was ignored

Source of this article – Los Angeles Times, January 28, 2009

from the Washington Post

Washington — Interior Department officials ignored key scientific findings when they limited water flows in the Grand Canyon to optimize generation of electric power there, risking damage to the ecology of the spectacular landmark, according to documents obtained by the Washington Post.

A Jan. 15 memo written by Grand Canyon National Park Supt. Steve Martin suggests that the department produced a flawed environmental assessment to defend its actions against environmentalists.

The Grand Canyon Trust, an advocacy group, has sued Interior for reducing the flow of water from Glen Canyon Dam at night, when consumer demand for electricity is low, on the grounds that the policy hurts imperiled fish species and erodes the canyon’s beaches.

“The government’s brief as presented continues to misinterpret key scientific findings related to the humpback chub, status of downstream resources in Grand Canyon, and the need for the secretary to acknowledge [National Park Service] authorities and responsibilities to protect resources under [National Park Service] administration,” Martin wrote in a memo that the Post obtained from the group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

Mike Snyder, the park service’s intermountain regional director, said Tuesday that he concurred with the superintendent’s analysis and had tried to petition Interior’s top officials to reexamine the Colorado water experiment.
The issue highlights what Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will face as he evaluates Bush administration rules.

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