May 21, 2009

USGS plans Grand Canyon overflights

The U.S. Geological Survey says it will conduct scientific overflights at the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona during the Memorial Day weekend.

The overflights are designed to document the status of natural and cultural resources along the Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam, officials said. Aerial photographs will be taken from two fixed-wing aircraft flying at an altitude of approximately 7,000 feet.

Scientific overflights have been conducted as part of ongoing monitoring efforts since 1984, the USGS said. One of the resources of interest (is) sandbars, because they create habitat for native plants and animals, provide camping beaches for river runners and hikers, and act as a source of sediment needed to protect archaeological resources from erosion.

John Hamill, chief of the USGS Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center said the federal agency wants to alert the public that the aircraft will be part of ongoing efforts to monitor park resources and will be no cause for concern.