Lake Mead rangers recover third set of human remains as western drought crushes Nevada Reservoir


A third set of human remains was found in Lake Mead on Monday, thanks to a drought that pushed the water level of the largest reservoir in the United States to an all-time high.

National Park Service rangers responded to a report of human remains discovered around 4:30 p.m. at Swim Beach in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, the agency said in a news release. The Clark County, Nevada, medical examiner’s office is expected to determine the cause of death, according to the Park Service. No details have been released regarding the identity of the victim or when the person may have died.

“Park rangers are on site and have defined a perimeter to retrieve the remains,” the agency said.

It is at least the third time human remains have been found in Lake Mead in recent months, following two discoveries less than a week apart in May.

Water levels in Lake Mead are the lowest since the reservoir near Las Vegas was first filled in April 1937 as the Hoover Dam, then called the Boulder Dam, tapped the Colorado River, according to NASA. Satellite images released by NASA last week show how almost unrecognizable the reservoir on the Nevada-Arizona border, which is now 27% full, is compared to how it has appeared over the past two decades.

The reservoir is at capacity when water levels reach 1,229 feet above sea level, but is considered full at 1,219.6 feet, according to the US Bureau of Reclamation. The tank last reached this maximum capacity in 1999, according to NASA.

On Tuesday, Lake Mead was about 1,040 feet above sea level.

In the west, hot, dry summer weather fueled drought and fires in all parts of the region. The effects of climate change showed up last week as a stretch of the Rio Grande near Albuquerque that supplies farmers with water and habitat for an array of aquatic life goes dry.

“In the past 1,200 years, we haven’t had a period as dry as we have right now,” Ann Willis, a researcher at the Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California, Davis, told The Washington Post on Friday. last month. “We are really hitting new lows in terms of extreme conditions.”

These maps illustrate the severity of the western drought

The drought has affected the fifth most visited park in the country in more ways than one. The lake provides electricity to 350,000 homes and is also an important source of irrigation and drinking water for around 25 million people in the southwest.

‘Where there are bodies there is treasure’: a hunt as Lake Mead shrinks

While Lake Mead National Recreation Area boasts on its website how it “offers Joshua trees, slot canyons, and a night sky illuminated by the Milky Way,” the park has also faced challenges like than previously sunken boats now exposed in low water levels. .

But the multiple discoveries of human remains in the park have made headlines in recent months.

On May 1, the remains of a person who died around 40 years ago were discovered in a corroded barrel. Lt. Ray Spencer of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said at the time that investigators believed the person was a murder victim who died of a gunshot wound. Authorities believe the person was killed in the late 1970s or early 1980s, based on clothing and shoes found with the body, according to a statement provided to the Post in May.

The receding waters of Lake Mead uncover a body. The police expect to find more.

Spencer told CBS affiliate KLAS-TV in May that there were likely to be more such finds.

“There is a very good chance that the water level will drop for us to find more human remains,” he said.

Spencer was right. Six days later, human skeletal remains were discovered at Callville Bay in the park, according to the Park Service.

Authorities have not released additional details regarding the identities of the victims.

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