- Climate change has become real in Arizona and Utah with Lake Powell in trouble
- At Lake Powell the water line has dropped to a historic low, taking a heavy toll on the local industry
- Lake Powell is a man-made reservoir on the Colorado River in Utah and Arizona, United States. It is a major vacation spot visited by approximately two million people every year.
This is still the announcement on the Lake Powell tourism website:
We are excited to welcome guests back to Lake Powell and we look forward to your visit. Please find updated information regarding changes to our operations and services at this time as we re-open.
The health and safety of visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners at Lake Powell is our number one priority. The National Park Service (NPS) is working service-wide with federal, state, and local authorities to ensure the safety of our guests and follow the most updated health guidelines.
Weather conditions are becoming increasingly hot and dry and fire danger is increasing daily. Visitors should use extra caution recreating on public lands when fire danger is increased.
Fire restrictions are due to increasing fire danger and the need to prevent human-caused wildfires during potentially dangerous fire conditions, to promote public health and safety, and to protect resources. Firefighter and public safety remain the highest priority during wildfire season.
To learn more about fire restrictions on other public lands in Arizona and Utah, please visit www.wildlandfire.az.gov and www.utahfireinfo.gov. For more information about wildfires across the country, visit inciweb.nwcg.org.
Here is the reality:
Lake Powell is located in northern Arizona and stretches up into southern Utah. It’s part of the Colorado River in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. With nearly 2,000 miles of shoreline, endless sunshine, warm water, perfect weather, and some of the most spectacular scenery in the west, Lake Powell is the ultimate playground. Rent a houseboat, stay at our campground, or enjoy our lodging and hop aboard a guided expedition.
The National Park Service abruptly announced earlier this month that houseboats could no longer use the Wahweap Launch Ramp, the busiest boat launch site in the area. Boats already cast out into the water were warned they had less than a week to return to land or risk getting marooned.
The small town of Page has a population of 7,500 and without the houseboat, the tourism industry has not much that could keep this small vibrant town running. It is a crisis for the Page community.
While climate change has exacerbated wildfires, heatwaves, and flash floods this summer, it is also taking a heavy toll on the tourism industry that’s dependent on Lake Powell. Last week the water line reached a historic low of 3,554ft, a level that has not been seen since 1969 when the reservoir was first filled. The giant reservoir is currently three-quarters empty and will keep dropping at least through next spring due to record low snowpack levels in the Colorado River basin.
Out of seven public boat launch ramps at Lake Powell, only Bullfrog in southern Utah remains reliably functional due to a series of recent ramp extensions. But that too may soon become inaccessible.
According to a report in the UK-based Guardian paper, The US Bureau of Reclamation predicts there is a 79% chance Lake Powell will drop another 29ft from the current historic low “sometime next year”.
According to a National Park Service report, Glen Canyon had 4.4 million visitors in 2019, making it one of the most visited parks in the country. The visitors spent $427m in Page and the surrounding area and supported 5,243 jobs, including providing a vital source of employment for the nearby Navajo Nation.
There is huge potential for other recreational opportunities in the side canyons that emerge out of Lake Powell.
The boating industry agrees that the newly accessible scenic areas in Glen Canyon are a big draw for tourists.