Sunday, November 02, 2008

Havasu Canyon restoration estimated at $2 million+

AZGS geologist Brian Gootee and I are heading north in a few hours for a meeting tomorrow morning with Havasupai Tribal Council members in Supai village near the Grand Canyon, to brief them on the AZGS's geologic and hazards assessment of the flood that swept down Cataract and Havasu canyons during August 16-17. The Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, FEMA, and other agencies have been in the canyon to make evaluations of trails and other aspects.

A story in today's Flagstaff Daily Sun describes for the first time, the extent of damage and efforts to restore the Havasupai Tribe's infrastructure and tourist facilities. The article by former tribal employee and current forest service ranger Stephen Hirst, says the flood peaked at 6,000 cubic feet per second, well below the 20,000 cfs of the 1990 flood but argues that the 2008 flood lasted longer - 36 hours - so much more water roared down the canyon, making it perhaps the most devastating flood on record.

Work is underway to clear the famous Havasu Falls pools of silt and debris. The main trail reconstruction has been troubled by landslides and slumping.

The Tribe hopes to re-open the trail and campground to tourists in time for next spring's tourist season. Hirst says federal agencies estimate recovery costs will exceed $2 million. Other tribes in Arizona and California have contributed $1.045 million. Gov. Napolitano has requested assistance from FEMA under a disaster declaration. Meanwhile, the Daily Sun reports that the Havasupai Tribe has a relief account with Wells Fargo Bank where people may contribute (see for information).


  1. Finally, some recent info on the canyon (Havasu). Good data. I read the summary by Hirst and you would be interested to know that I wrote the same basic thing to the tribal chairman in September..that the creek needs to be leveed, with controls at each end to return water to Navajo and restrain massive gushes in the main bed in the future. Otherwise, it will keep eating back to the village. I hope they realize that now is the time to do something, before it gets further up. I would love to help, but am limited on being able to pay high fees. First went to Havasu in 1984, just before the first dam at the falls gave way. Sad to see it drastically changed.

    Steve C in Prescott.