Escalade - header
Little Colorado River. Photo by Jack Dykinga

LCR dams - proposal maps

Project 1

Project 1 map

Salt Trail Canyon Pumped Storage Project

STATUS: Canceled

This proposal was less than five miles from Grand Canyon National Park and included two dams, one across a canyon east of the Little Colorado River and another on the Little Colorado River itself. Details ›

Project 2

Little Colorado River Pumped Storage Project

STATUS: Canceled

Less than a half mile from Grand Canyon National Park, this project included two dams. It appeared that the project's lower reservoir would leave a Hopi sacred site underwater. Read more ›


Project 3

Map of Big Canyon Project

Big Canyon Pumped Storage Project

STATUS: Denied

Also on Navajo Nation land near the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers, this proposal included four dams on and above Big Canyon, a tributary to the Little Colorado River. Learn more ›

LCR Dams - federal policy

A federal policy now requires tribal consent for dams on tribal lands

In February 2024, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) announced it will not issue preliminary permits for projects on tribal lands, "if the tribe on whose lands the project is to be located opposes the project." See a list of FERC permit denials for hydropower projects on tribal lands ›

LCR dams - map (3 in 1)

Map of three dam proposals

The confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers is culturally significant to many Native peoples in the region and awe-inspiring to all. These proposed dam projects, like the not-so-distant failed Escalade tramway, threatened to disrupt the spiritual and cultural practices of people who have called the Grand Canyon home since time immemorial. One of the projects (the Little Colorado River Pumped Storage Project), would have flooded a Hopi sacred site, a place where the Hopi people believe they emerged into this world.

Video - Little Colorado River Flyover

Video - Little Colorado River Flyover

A vital cultural and spiritual area

"This whole region … is culturally important. There are various shrines located in this area that Hopi people still visit to this day.” — Lyle Balenquah

Fly over the Little Colorado River as Lyle Balenquah — archaeologist, river and hiking guide, and member of the Hopi Tribe — and William LongReed — citizen of the Navajo Nation Bodaway/Gap Chapter — explain the cultural and spiritual significance of the area.

LCR Dams - What's the status?

LCR Dams - What's the status?
Shane McDermott

What's the status of the dams?

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) cancelled the preliminary permits for the Salt Trail Canyon and Little Colorado River projects in December 2022 after the developer asked to surrender those permits

In April 2024, FERC denied the proposed Big Canyon Dam, citing the Navajo Nation's opposition.

LCR Dams - Call to Donate

Help protect the Little Colorado River

LCR dams - what's at risk

LCR dams - what's at risk
Jack Dykinga

What's at risk?

If built, these dams on the Little Colorado River would:

  • Threaten cultural and spiritual practices of the Grand Canyon's Native peoples
  • Industrialize the Hopi Salt Trail and other significant areas
  • Rob the desert river of its world famous milky-blue waters
  • Threaten the habitat of the endangered humpback chub

LCR dams - economic boon

LCR dams - economic boon

The bottom line

From mines, to tourist developments, to proposed dams, profiteers have been trying to make a buck off the canyon since the 1800s. The company behind these proposed hydroelectric projects claims they'd be an economic boon to Navajo and Arizona economies, bringing billions in investment to stimulate jobs and growth. But the Navajo Nation, on whose lands the projects would be built, and other tribes with cultural ties to the area, strongly oppose the dams.

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