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Science and Innovations

Government Defunds Grand Canyon Scientific Research

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

The federal government plans to defund several longstanding programs that monitor the environmental health of the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports, representatives of all seven Colorado River Basin states are condemning the action.

Twenty-three million dollars will be swept from the “Basin Fund” which supports Grand Canyon research and ensures Glen Canyon Dam operates in compliance with federal laws like the Endangered Species Act. Hydropower revenues have funded this work for more than two decades. But the Western Area Power Administration was ordered by President Trump’s Office of Management and Budget to send the money to the U.S. Treasury instead of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, starting October 1.

David Nimkin of the National Parks Conservation Association serves on a federal advisory committee for the largest program affected, the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program.

Nimkin says, "If you have seven states as diverse as Wyoming and California and Utah and Colorado all coming together, hopefully the message would get through to the administration that this was not a very popular move. It’s not over til it’s over. I’m hopeful these funds will be restored one way or another."  

In jeopardy is Flagstaff’s Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center, as well as two Upper Basin programs focused on endangered fish recovery.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation declined a request for an interview, but a spokesperson confirmed officials will discuss ways to address the issue at a meeting in Flagstaff this week.

Melissa joined KNAU's team in 2015 to report on science, health, and the environment. Her work has appeared nationally on NPR and been featured on Science Friday. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert.
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