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Lake Mead Rangers Find Third Set Of Human Remains As West Drought Crushes Nevada Reservoir

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Remark

A third set of human remains were recovered Monday in Lake Mead, thanks to a drought that pushed water levels in the largest reservoir in the United States to an unprecedented low.

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

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

It marks the third time human remains have been recovered from Lake Mead in recent months, following two discoveries less than a week apart in May.

Water levels at Lake Mead are the lowest since the reservoir near Las Vegas was first filled in April 1937 when Hoover Dam, then called Boulder Dam, utilized the Colorado River, according to NASA. Satellite images released by NASA last week show how the reservoir on the Nevada-Arizona border, now 27 percent full, is nearly unrecognizable, compared to what it looked like for the past two decades.

The reservoir is at its maximum capacity when the water level reaches 1,229 feet above sea level, but according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, it is considered full at 1,219.6 feet. According to NASA, the reservoir last reached peak capacity in 1999.

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

In the west, the hot and dry summer weather has led to drought and fires in all parts of the region. The effects of climate change were evident last week when a stretch of the Rio Grande near Albuquerque, which provides farmers with water and habitat for a range of aquatic life, dried up.

“In the past 1,200 years, we have not seen a period as dry as we are today,” Ann Willis, a researcher at the Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California at Davis, told The Washington Post last month. “We’re really hitting new lows in terms of how extreme the conditions are.”

These maps illustrate the severity of the western drought

The drought has hit the country’s fifth most visited park 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 approximately 25 million people in the Southwest.

‘Where there are bodies, there are treasures’: a yacht as Lake Mead shrinks

While Lake Mead National Recreation Area touts on its website how it offers “Joshua trees, slot canyons, and night sky lit by the Milky Way,” the park has also faced challenges such as previously sunken boats now exposed in the 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 estimated to have died 40 years ago in a rusting barrel were discovered. Lt. Ray Spencer, of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, said at the time that investigators believe the person was a murder victim who died of a gunshot wound. Authorities believe the person was murdered in the late 1970s or early 1980s, based on clothing and footwear found with the body, according to a statement provided to The Post in May.

Retreating waters from Lake Mead expose a body. Police expect to find more.

Spencer told CBS affiliate KLAS-TV in May that there would likely be more such discoveries.

“If the water level drops, there’s a good chance we’ll find even more human remains,” he said.

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

Authorities have not released any further details about the identities of the victims.


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