Dams on the Little Colorado

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Dams on the Little Colorado

Date: 11/08/2019     State: AZ     Issue: Watersheds     Partners: Cronkite News, Grand Canyon Trust, KNAU, Navajo Times, Utah State University Airport Origin : Grand Canyon    


EcoFlight flew with Grand Canyon Trust to provide context of proposed dams at the confluence of Colorado and Little Colorado Rivers, and to help press and conservation partners understand the cultural and environmental implications of the proposal.

Background: A Phoenix-based company has applied for preliminary permits for two proposed hydroelectric projects on Navajo Nation lands mere miles from the national park boundary. Both would flood a pristine section of the Little Colorado River Gorge, muddy its distinctive turquoise-blue waters, destroy areas sacred to Native peoples, and threaten the habitat of the already endangered humpback chub.

In June 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission accepted a third application to dam Big Canyon, a tributary canyon adjacent to the Little Colorado River.

The confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers is sacred to many Native peoples in the region and awe-inspiring to all. These proposed dam projects, like the not-so-distant failed Escalade tramway, threaten to disrupt the spiritual and cultural practices of people who have called the Grand Canyon home since time immemorial. One of the projects would flood a Hopi sacred site, a place where the Hopi people believe they emerged into this world.

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