Colorado River Research

The Colorado River is the major drainage system for the Colorado Plateau. In the harsh desert landscape, the riparian corridor of the Colorado River provides important habitat for a diverse array of flora and fauna.  Ecologists at MNA conduct research throughout the length of the river through the plateau.  We have participated in research looking at riparian restoration in Glen Canyon, and often consult with management agencies regarding species of management concern.  Curator, Dr. Larry Stevens, is a member of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management work group and participates in numerous collaborations to ensure that conservation of biota is a consideration for river management decisions.  The Ecology and Conservation division recently received a generous donation that will enable us to look at endemic dragonflies in the Grand Canyon region of the river.

Curator Larry Stevens has logged over 400 trips in 40 years down the Colorado River through Grand Canyon as a river guide, researcher, and recreationist.  In 1983, he wrote a guide book for river runners called “The Colorado River in Grand Canyon:  A River Runner’s Guide and Map to its Natural and Human History”.   In addition to detailed maps of each stretch of the river through the canyon, the guide has chapters on geography, weather and climate, geology, river history, geomorphology, human history, biology, and the Glen Canyon dam.  The Grand Canyon Wildlands Council has received funding to update and republish the guide.  Dr. Stevens is in the process of rewriting the key chapters with new and updated information.  We hope this guide will continue to educate and enlighten river runners and river trip participants and impart a sense of the ecological, cultural, and geologic complexity of the Grand Canyon to its readers.