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: Preliminary permit issued

This proposal is less than five miles from Grand Canyon National Park and includes two concrete arch 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: Preliminary permit issued

Less than a half mile from the boundary with Grand Canyon National Park, this project also includes two dams. It appears 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: Application under consideration

Also on Navajo Nation land, this proposal includes four dams on and above Big Canyon, a tributary to the Little Colorado River. Developers say the Big Canyon project could replace their two prior proposals. Learn more ›

LCR dams - map (3 in 1)

Three proposals. Three terrible ideas.

Map of three dam proposals

The confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers is sacred to many Native peoples in the region and awe-inspiring to all. These proposed dam projects, like the not-so-distant failed Escalade tramway, threaten 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 flood 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
EcoFlight

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?

In May 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued preliminary permits for the Salt Trail Canyon and Little Colorado River projects. These permits are not final approvals but grant the company exclusive rights for three years to study the feasibility of its proposed projects, and apply for final licenses (no other hydropower developer can file a competing license in that window). In July 2021, the developer asked to surrender permits for the Little Colorado River and Salt Trail Canyon projects, but continues to pursue the Big Canyon protect.

LCR Dams - project 3

Big Canyon Pumped Storage Project

In March 2020, Pumped Hydro Storage submitted a third application to study the feasibility of building another set of dams in Big Canyon, a tributary to the Little Colorado River just upstream of the other proposed projects. The Big Canyon Pumped Storage project would use concrete arch and earthen dams to create four reservoirs, one of which would flood the bottom of the canyon. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission accepted the application on June 2, 2020. 

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.

Grand Canyon Blog

09/21/21

Native peoples have had cultural ties to the Little Colorado River Gorge since time immemorial, yet their sovereignty remains under threat.

Read More
09/8/21

The Grand Canyon Protection Act is our best chance at securing enduring protection for the Grand Canyon and its life-giving waters.

Read More
08/18/21

A uranium reserve would subsidize the uranium industry at the expense of the Grand Canyon, Bears Ears, and frontline communities.

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