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From the Vol. 16, No. 2 edition of The Wire

By John Thomas, CEO

This year, the National Park Service celebrates its centennial and SWCA celebrates 35 years as a company. While these are very different events in scale and import, there are parallels and connections between the Park Service and SWCA. In this issue of The Wire, we want to honor this shared history, as well as highlight our growth over 35 years and the possibilities for the future.


In this issue we take an in-depth look at SWCA’s history in Grand Canyon, which began in the 1970s. Steven Carothers, SWCA’s founder, was Curator of Biology at the Museum of Northern Arizona and secured contracts with the Park Service to inventory the biological resources of the Colorado River corridor and assess impacts from the burgeoning river-running industry. This work made important contributions to the understanding of the Colorado River ecosystem in Grand Canyon and resources management in the park. It also established the foundation for what became SWCA. I was a Park Ranger on the Colorado River in the 1970s, and it was on the river where Steve and I began a 40-year working relationship that continues to this day.

When the National Park Service was created 100 years ago, it was given the dual mandates to preserve the parks while allowing visitors to experience them. National Park managers have worked to protect park resources while also promoting use and development of the parks. Steve and I worked within the boundaries of these mandates at Grand Canyon. When reflecting on the history and work of SWCA, we recognized that there is a symmetry between the mandates of the National Park Service and SWCA’s purpose, which is “to preserve natural and cultural resources for the future while enabling projects that benefit mankind today.” Different for sure, but similar in that use and preservation are both goals. Those goals are reflected in our partnership with Babbitt Ranches to preserve golden eagles and our recent work with Vermilion Energy USA in Wyoming, where construction monitoring led to the successful identification, excavation, and preservation of a Triceratops skull.

Why are we working to benefit mankind in the near-term and preserve resources for the long-term? Because projects and development on all scales are needed to meet the need of growing populations and people’s aspirations for quality of life, AND, quality of life for people in the future will be enhanced if we are able to preserve natural and cultural resources. These are the reasons SWCA employees come to work each day and will continue to in the future.