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Friends of Lake Powell Newsletter


Summer 2005





The lake is now storing nearly 4 trillion gallons of water.






For water year 2006, the Bureau of Reclamation is officially forecasting  a continuing upward trend.
















We are proud of our beaches and the quality of the Lake Powell experience.


















The equation in my book is that many, many more people can come and enjoy the geology and the canyon with the recreation area here.





















The Colorado River is of strategic importance to the Southwest United States.

Over a 50 Foot Rise!

In a significant rebound from a prolonged and severe drought, Lake Powell has come up 53 feet this spring and summer.

Recreational access is good at
Lake Powell and the newly extended concrete launch ramps are covered under deep water. The rising lake level has increased tourism and water recreation which are important aspects of the rural economy of northern Arizona and southern Utah.   

“During drought years and declining lake levels, we tend to forget that even an average snowpack can substantially increase the level of Lake Powell," said Friends of Lake Powell board member, Paul Ostapuk. This year’s snowpack in Colorado was rather ordinary (110% of average) yet it still translated into more than a 50-foot vertical rise in the 160-mile long lake. The lake now stores nearly 4 trillion gallons of water.  

Lake Powell, the second largest reservoir in the nation, initially filled in 1980. Since that time, it has subsequently fluctuated up and down with the variances of Colorado River snowpack. This year, the snowpack in Colorado was only slightly above normal. However, it was welcome news to water managers and water recreationists who have felt the impact of 5 years of drought and meager snowpacks that have averaged just 50% of normal. 

The natural flow of the Colorado River can fluctuate between 4 and 24 million-acre feet per year. 

A similar prolonged drought in the early 1990’s lowered the level of Lake Powell to within a few feet of today’s elevation. Then, the fortune of Lake Powell reversed and in just three short years the lake was essentially full again. Such is the boom / bust  nature of the Colorado River.

Keeping Our Beaches Clean

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With the drought have come opportunities to clean beaches not exposed for decades and the chance to remove large debris and sunken vessels.

Steve Ward, Friends Chairman, reminds boaters to keep
Lake Powell clean.

“We are proud of our beaches and the quality of the
Lake Powell experience. We want all boaters to enjoy Lake Powell and we need your help to keep it clean.”

Floating restrooms are available for day use. Overnight campers are required to use porta-potties or on-boat restroom facilities. It goes without saying that food scraps and camp litter belong in garbage bags, not on the sand.  

“The combination of clean water, beautiful beaches and rock formations, and unlimited recreational activities make
Lake Powell a premier family destination,” says Ward.



image005.jpg (24050 bytes)A large scale operation to remove sunken vessels was instigated by
Jim Cross, president and founder of Cross International Search and Recovery Foundation.

The Cross family has a long history with Glen Canyon. Cross’ father, John L. Cross Sr., began leading Explorer Scout groups down the Colorado and through Glen Canyon in 1945, using 10-man assault boats he’d acquired from U.S. Army surplus. 

“Between 1945 and 1947 he took 380 people through
Glen Canyon,” Jim Cross said of his father, who passed away this past year. “That was more than all the other groups that had gone through at that time.”  Jim and his father floated Glen Canyon together. “I was pretty young, but I remember every bit of it.”

As someone who has seen
Glen Canyon both in its original, natural state and with Lake Powell, Jim Cross says he totally supports the creation of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

“The equation in my book is that many more people can come and enjoy the geology and the canyon with the recreation area here,” he said. “I, for one, am very glad we’ve had the water resources here through the last five or six years of drought. I think the current situation is one in which people can really enjoy it. It has many benefits. I’m happy it’s here.”

If you would like to financially support this volunteer effort, contact the Friends of Lake Powell for further information.

Comment Period to 'Slow the Flow' Is Open

New Criteria and Management Strategies For Conserving   Reservoir Levels During Drought Conditions Are Sought


As promised back in May, Secretary Norton has opened a public comment period to revise reservoir operations and develop criteria for conserving water resources during times of drought. Presently, the Bureau of Reclamation has operating criteria associated with ‘normal’ and ‘surplus’ designations but no ‘shortage’ criteria exist that would reduce water deliveries during periods of extreme drought and low reservoir levels.

The Friends of Lake Powell support the concept of developing new reservoir management strategies. One beneficial change would be to redefine the Upper Basin water delivery schedule and base it on a 10-year rolling average, as was originally specified in the 1922 Colorado River Compact. We believe that ‘shortage’ criteria should be established for Lake Mead and Lake Powell when their capacities fall below 50% of capacity.

One concept is that when a 'shortage' is declared, the Upper Basin could reduce outflows from Glen Canyon Dam for so long as compliance with the 1922 Compact delivery could be maintained. Presently, the Upper Basin releases additional water to the Lower Basin during times of 'surplus' yet the Upper Basin receives no offsetting credit for these water deliveries during times of drought.

With the establishment of shortage criteria, water delivery schedules from Glen Canyon Dam could be modulated lower during droughts and higher during surpluses. This would help stabilize the level of the Lake Powell. More efficient reservoir operation would help prevent overflowing spills in the wet years and slow the drawbown during severe droughts that could jeopardize hydroelectric power production.

Comments to the Secretary should be sent to by August 31, 2005. 









Thank you, Tiff, for making a difference!






















Drain–It environmental groups are proclaiming the end of Lake Powell and want to create a new National Park.


























A couple of weeks later these illegal commercial trips were halted.

























Friends of Lake Powell P.O. Box 7007
Page, Arizona 86040



(928) 645-0229

(Toll Free)
(866) 220-3946




Visit Our Website 

Meet Our New Colorado Director

The Friends of Lake Powell are pleased to introduce Tiff Mapel as our new Colorado Director. Tiff has enthusiastically enjoyed
Lake Powell for the past 20 years. She is an educator and a journalist and was instrumental this past year in helping the Friends of Lake Powell host community forums in Durango and Grand Junction.

Tiff also is a proud volunteer in the ARAMARK volunteer Trash Tracker program. Recently, her volunteer efforts with rewarded recently with a trip to Washington D.C. to meet with Secretary of the Interior, Gail Norton, as she announced winners in the 2004 National ‘Take Pride in America’ Awards.

In a speech, Norton described how the “The cornerstone of ‘Take Pride in
America’ is the belief that individuals need to be engaged to take responsibility for improving their community environment. At Interior we call it 'cooperative conservation', and Take Pride's award-winning volunteers are helping to turn this philosophy into action,” she said.

Since 1989, the Trash Tracker Program has helped keep the shores of
Lake Powell debris-free. Thank you, Tiff, for making a difference!

Political News

image008.gif (465 bytes)The Drain-it groups have continued to stay active. The severe drought has renewed their hope for draining Lake Powell and the national media has given them a free propaganda ticket to spread misinformation. Articles bemoaning Lake Powell appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times, and the Chicago Tribune, and on TV broadcasts such as ABC News and Nightline,

Their political goals are the total abandonment of Lake Powell and the creation of a new Glen Canyon national park. To aid their effort, they are considering legal protections for what they call ‘sacred sites’ and ‘emerging endangered species habitat’. These environmental groups have money, paid staff, free time on their hands and a nationally organized network of environmental support to keep their propaganda machine going. It is their full time religion to hate Lake Powell.

Lake Powell Doom and Gloom


Recently these groups have proclaimed the end of Lake Powell saying it will never significantly rise again. It’s their fantasy wish, of course, to see Lake Powell drained. They cheer the drought. But they   underestimate how severe the existing drought has been and how quickly Lake Powell will respond to normal snowpack and river conditions. The short term trend for Lake Powell is up and, while not likely, we are now just one ‘super winter’ from filling the lake.


Loose With the Facts


          The drain-it groups claim that Lake Powell loses more the evaporation than Lake Mead while the reverse is actually true. The fact is that Lake Mead sits over 2,500 feet lower in the hot Mojave Desert and evaporates at a 5% rate. Evaporation is actually less at Lake Powell due to its narrow configuration and cooler temperatures.  

          Was it drought or increased water demand that lowered the level of Lake Powell? Environmentalist blame people and increasing water demand while federal hydrologists make reference to “driest, five consecutive years in a century of record keeping”. The truth is that water demand on the Colorado River has been steady or actually declining during the drought.


NPS Yanks Permit for GCI Disguised Commercial Tours


When declining lake levels this spring revealed the lower portions of the Cathedral in the Desert, the Glen Canyon Institute was eager to guide paying customers across Lake Powell to see the sights. They obtained a phony cleanup permit from the National Park Service at Glen Canyon and began taking paying customers to Cathedral in the Desert in the disguise of a volunteer cleanup program.

The Friends of Lake Powell wrote a letter of protest to the National Park Service and a couple of weeks later these illegal commercial trips were halted.


Go it Alone with Just Lake Mead?


Even though we are in the grips of the worst drought in one-hundred years, the drain-it groups want to take Lake Powell away from the Upper Basin and reduce storage on the Colorado River by over 40%. Lake Mead is enough they say, forgetting that prior to Lake Powell, Lake Mead suffered huge fluctuations and that was before the Upper Basin had developed much of their water allocations.

Federal hydrologists acknowledge that we have survived the present drought largely because of water stored at Lake Powell. Releases from Lake Powell have kept Lake Mead reasonably full and the Lower Basin operating with water surpluses all through the drought. 

Friends of Lake Powell Announce Annual Memberships

Your annual membership provides important funds that give Lake Powell a voice!

We are now offering three levels of annual memberships:

          $50 - General membership (newsletter and member’s discount coupons)

          $100 – Friends Patron (includes subscription to Lake Powell Magazine)

          $500 and up – Premier Donor (includes above items and more importantly it allows our organization to grow and fund new projects)

Our mission is to defend Lake Powell and to promote and preserve the outstanding Lake Powell experience.

We rely on membership dues to offset operational expenses and keep our office open. With your donation we can respond to national media and educational requests, host community forums, develop and distribute educational materials, and promote the Friends of Lake Powell at regional boat shows and other public functions.

With your help we can keep SPEAKING UP FOR LAKE POWELL!

The Friends of Lake Powell, Inc. is a 501.c.3 organization. 


Membership Information


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Membership Level  ____ General  ____ Friends Patron  ____ Premier Donor

Mail your check to:
Friends of Lake Powell,  P.O. Box 7007, Page, Arizona 86040

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