I have been working at USGS for over 30 years. Most of my career has been spent understanding the effects of abandoned mine lands on water. How can we locate the biggest sources of metals to streams to help land management agencies target sites for cleanup? What were metal concentrations in streams prior to mining? How much of the metal signature we see in streams today is caused by mining, and how much is there naturally, because a clue to the metal richness existed in a stream before it was mined? This work has allowed me to walk and sample streams all over the western USA in search of answers. Most recently, I have been working to understand the effects of uranium mining in areas around the Grand Canyon. Most of this mining occurred on the Arizona Strip, in the area between the Grand Canyon and the Utah/Arizona border, though some mines are on the South Rim area. My field work in the last 5 years has occurred up on these high desert plateaus. I am not walking streams, I am walking the desert and sampling soil. Streams mostly flow only during rain storms.
The SCREE/Powell 150 expedition allows me a wonderful chance to finally experience the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, the river that receives input from streams that drain the uranium-rich areas. It is a unique opportunity to see the river from many scientific points of view, but also from artistic and cultural lenses that are represented by all the participants in the expedition. I look forward to better understanding the depth and breadth of natural, cultural, and scientific resources that abound in the canyon. As I hike out the Bright Angel Trail from Phantom Ranch, I will doubtless marvel at all I have seen and experienced the last 5 days, and be thankful for the water on my back and a strong hiking partner!