Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center

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Adaptive Management

Photograph of GCMRC scientists preparing for monitoring activities

Photograph of GCMRC scientists preparing for monitoring activities associated with the March 2008 high-flow experimental release of water from Glen Canyon Dam (photograph by Anne Phillips).

In 1996, the Secretary of the Interior signed a formal decision altering the historical flows from Glen Canyon Dam and establishing the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program. Also known as “learning by doing,” adaptive management is a way to evaluate and revise management actions as new information becomes available. In the context of the management of Glen Canyon Dam, adaptive management was selected to create a process whereby “the effects of dam operations on downstream resources would be assessed and the results of those assessments would form the basis of future modifications of dam operations.”

The Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center (GCMRC) is responsible for the scientific monitoring and research efforts of the program. Science in the adaptive management process is the “compass” used to evaluate the effects of Glen Canyon Dam operations on resources of concern and to inform changes in course when necessary.

One of the goals of the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program is the maintenance of a high-quality monitoring, research, and adaptive management program. To achieve this goal GCMRC continues to refine a comprehensive ecosystem science program that is responsive to the needs of the program’s participants and the U.S. Department of Interior. Key elements of this program include retaining and enhancing talented staff and scientists, improving budgeting and planning efforts, enhancing communication activities, and streamlining administrative tasks. Additionally, innovative techniques and strategies for managing, analyzing, and integrating data are underway. These efforts include an ecosystem modeling effort to integrate physical and biological data, advances in spatial data analysis, and innovative solutions for analyzing remotely sensed data.

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Grand Canyon Monitoring & Research Center | 2255 North Gemini Drive Flagstaff, AZ 86001 | Phone: 928.556.7380 Fax: 928.556.7100

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Last Update: November 3, 2011