The Grand Canyon of the Colorado River, one of the world's most spectacular gorges, is a premier U.S. National Park and a World Heritage Site. The canyon supports a diverse array of distinctive plants and animals and contains cultural resources significant to the region's Native Americans.
About 15 miles upstream of Grand Canyon National Park sits Glen Canyon Dam, completed in 1963, which created Lake Powell. The dam provides hydroelectric power for 200 wholesale customers in six western States, but it has also altered the Colorado River's flow, temperature, and sediment-carrying capacity. Over time this has resulted in beach erosion, invasion and expansion of nonnative species, and losses of native fish.
Public concern about the effects of Glen Canyon Dam operations prompted the passage of the Grand Canyon Protection Act of 1992, which directs the Secretary of the Interior to operate the dam 'to protect, mitigate adverse impacts to, and improve values for which Grand Canyon National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area were established...' This legislation also required the creation of a long-term monitoring and research program to provide information that could inform decisions related to dam operations and protection of downstream resources.