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Environmental Groups Push Federal Officials To Reject LCR Dam Proposal

Ryan Heinsius

Several national environmental organizations are trying to stop proposals for four dams on the Little Colorado River. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, they’re urging federal officials to deny initial applications for the projects.

Save the Colorado, the Grand Canyon Trust, Sierra Club and others filed a motion with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Monday. They want officials to reject preliminary permits filed by the Phoenix-based company Pumped Hydro Storage.

The groups say the proposals would destroy the primary spawning grounds of the endangered humpback chub. In addition, they say it would eliminate the famed turquoise waters that flow through the LCR near the confluence of the Colorado River.

"It’s hard to imagine a worse possible place to build new dams and reservoirs than what we’ve seen proposed in these projects. These new dams and reservoirs would be located about a half-mile outside Grand Canyon National Park," says Michael Hiatt, an attorney with Earth Justice, which is representing the groups.

The Hopi Tribe says the proposals would threaten some of their most sacred sites, including where they believe the tribe emerged into the world.

The hydro-storage proposals on the Navajo Nation would include four reservoirs and four dams up to 240 feet high. The company has said the plan is necessary to support energy production as regional coal plants close.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom as executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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