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Prologue with a Sobering Realism: The popularity of Glen Canyon with its new emblem, National Recreation Area (established October, 1972)  promotes an image of a multi-use facility that opened its aquatic doors to the masses some fifty years ago. Whether it’s an improvement or a desecration of the environment depends on one’s perspective, and to some degree, one’s personal desires. Nevertheless, the revamping of Glen Canyon’s original habitat is what it is. This modern day semblance is here to stay for quite some time. So are arguments against the canyon’s retrofit.

There is also something else rather singular about this topic: one is either for the changeover or against it. However, the lopsided dichotomy (meaning, more people are in favor of the lake adaptation) is really not about advocates vs. malcontents. Rather, it’s more the case what is known about the real facts of the matter, where awareness backed by science and scientific studies, tends to label the malcontent types as suspicious, farfetched and overly dramatic compared to point of view held by advocates. If this simplistic way of looking at things is bothersome for some, behold the essence of almost any two-sided issue promoting extreme points of view, say, politics. Given the longstanding arguments about the lake and the dam that’s exactly the basis that feeds this contentious issue––politics centered on functionary mandates that were vogue before the 1970s but are now mostly outmoded.

What follows in this opening diary denotes a more or less ample background. It is especially written for those who know little or nothing about what happened ever since the Glen Canyon Dam became a reality in the 1960s. The confrontations and principles fought between a so-called archdruid and a tough-minded commissioner. Their fabled wrangling has been prime subject matter for Southwest studies on and off the campus and has since casts its story to the four winds. Whenever the topic of Lake Powell arises, it’s like someone just lit a match and a powder keg of explosive and opposing views detonates, then builds to a large mushroom, only the fallout is not radioactive, though nonetheless incendiary. The rest of this saga follows after the the fancy break indicator. . .

The Coming of the Canyon Slayers: Born from the compromise of bureaucracy, opportunism, even showmanship, Lake Powell was the newest flagship in the Bureau of Reclamation’s (hereafter, BOR) fleet of dams. In time, its heavily touted creation was fraught with environmental complications that later led to controversy. The federally sanctioned conversion from a dry canyon environs to an aquarium caste without glass windows had both advantages and disadvantages. It was therefore both a boon and a bane, again, depending on one’s viewpoint given what happened here.

The lurid title of this diary thus states the obvious. What isn’t obvious to many people is the former Glen Canyon (sans basin) in face of the contemporary––the retrofit of Lake Powell. Backed by Congressional approval in the late 1950s, the BOR’s decision to oversee the project came out of the proverbial blue. It also shocked an assembly of conservationist watchdog types who, for a second time that decade, were in for another big environmental fight to save yet another canyon from drowning. This time, however, the supposed secondary target was an outback frontier that was never sanctioned as a national park or monument. Without a protective status, and not so much as a State Park endorsement, Glen Canyon was plainly in harm’s way. The protestors still had one last hope, however, and that was to denounce and annul the bureau’s intent, because Glen Canyon’s domicile harbored a national monument, Rainbow Bridge.

Meet David Brower, then the Director of the Sierra Club.

And meet the man who was behind the seeming secretive scheming to flood Glen Canyon, Floyd Dominy, then the Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation.


After the bureau’s defeat on the Green River, at Echo Park (near Vernal, Utah), the rousted dam builders quietly and quickly moved downstream to another river and set up shop. Dominy and the brigade (including the Army Corps of Engineers) were immediately back in business once more. Hence, the aspect of sobering realism relative to Glen Canyon’s fate.

These two leading characters, the quizzical (and mythical) Floyd Dominy and the idealistic young David Brower, denote what many people have dubbed the longest running soap opera never televised. Their renowned dramatization over variance of what could be construed as a matter of aesthetics is not only legendary, but extreme given the perspective of their discord over the years. They literally went at it like wild cats and dogs, each arguing to the hilt why or why not the dam structure should be built. Of course, in the final analysis, and after a very litigious and bitter showdown in the courts, the bureau backed down its original planned height of the dam, and that way Rainbow Bridge would not be a sacrificial lamb made out of sandstone. Thus its perimeter also inundated. The rest of the canyon, however, would go under (in a manner of speech).

Dominy, who figured it was his solemn administrator’s duty to alter landscapes, and thereby serve the commercial will of humankind (by way of creating water storage basins), got the final approval to erect the stupendous structure some fourteen miles upstream from historic Lees Ferry (Arizona). Brower, who cherished open spaces and abhorred altering native frontiers, felt only disdain for dams. He later called what happened here a great environmental sin and somehow held himself personally responsible. Still, the commissioner saw it another way, his way: he called the end result his blue jewel of the Colorado. By this, he meant the shackled river behind the dam that created a leviathan lake stretching nearly 200 miles. Brower pouted, Dominy gloated, and there one would think that was the end of the contest of wills. Actually, it was just the beginning of a new round. As previously alluded to, the fight was not publicized as a local affair, meaning not just a slice of southeast Utah and northeast Arizona was at stake. In years to come, the fight and its popularity went viral in the United States, and eventually overseas. That environmental contest was also focused on the Grand Canyon, which was also targeted for damming (that shocking story follows later in the diaries). The Glen Canyon fight, however, was legendary in the sense it was one of the more notorious pro environmental campaigns waged against the federal government.

So it came to be how revisiting the collusion of Glen Canyon had turned into a literal lake-a-rama recreational area (mostly it’s that) and has indeed served another purpose. Collusion is also an apt way to put it. Dominy, if he were alive today, never would have thought targeting Glen Canyon for a mega basin storage project would one day become a major rallying point for conservationists. However, Brower must have sensed the fledgling support he and the Sierra Club got early on. Those conflict of wills (mainly with the commissioner) would also one day augment the rank and file of many others who also embraced taking a stance on protecting open spaces. Namely, to take whatever legal action was necessary and thwart those who would have their way with the environment. Thus Brower, et al., helped raise both the bar on environmental consciousness, as well as the ire of opponents he vigorously contested. Then again, there were others who relished what the BOR did and therefore rallied against the would be dam slavers.

(FYI: The notorious wrangling between the two titans in later years that ultimately galvanized millions of people defending an environmental front also connects with the most momentous climatic changes humankind is forced to recognize in contemporary times. Hence, a phenomenon once thought by some as either mythical or exaggerated. Namely, the collateral effects of global warming, and for this region a protracted drought since the late 1990s.)

Going back to the beginning, that is, B.D. (before the dam), Glen Canyon was a quiet, out of the way setting that many people considered the most pristine throughout the Four Corners region (a/k/a the Colorado Plateau Province). She was not a showy masterpiece of nature compared to, say, its most sublime downstream canyon neighbor, the Grand. The Glen, as aficionados tend to dub her (which is why I prefer ‘she’ rather than an ‘it’), is the second largest canyon of this wide, far province stretched out between the Rocky Mountains (in the east) and the Basin and Range Province (in the west). With straightforward geology and lofty canyon walls rising above the Colorado, the Glens’ overall contour is plain and somewhat understated. Thus, the quiet beauty aspect that speaks for this nonetheless eloquent domain.


Yet in the labyrinthian backcountry, starting at the floor of the Glen, myriad glens, grottoes and cavernous alcoves welcomed visitors in those halcyon days before the flooding. Hikers and river rats (an endearing term for rafters) considered the interior an Eden of finely fabricated sandstone deposited during the Mesozoic Era (roughly, 250 to 65 million years). These idyllic haunts were just about everywhere to find, where each small or large chamber was a treasure unto itself. Occasionally, thin veils of waterfalls graced the view. Because of numerous streams and collected pools of clear water, there was always a riot of riparian trees, plants and wildflowers. No wonder Major John Wesley Powell came up with the designate, Glen Canyon, on his first canyon country expedition in 1869 (though he originally called the setting Mound Canyon).

In this canyon domain, there also once lived an untold number of prehistoric and historic people. They, too, favored this haven for habitation, hunting and farming. Indeed, there were some 3,000 archeological ruins scattered throughout myriad drainages. These long, sinuous arms reached toward the usually muddy and indolent Colorado and provided year-round water for prehistoric and historic tenants. Likely along the river corridor is where most of the farms and gardens were cultivated. With a large roster of animals and avians, here was a habitat like no other. There was lots of water and shade here, also niche protective places for people to live, and if need be, hide from their enemies. Remember: these remarks are written in the past tense. Except for just a few intact archeological ruins, all the rest are gone (as in demolished, leaving only a distant memory that even time cannot erase.

And Brower had said it right all along when he quoted Elliot Porter’s homily Glen Canyon was the place no one knew. That’s because there weren’t too many roads in this part of the state. Neighboring Arizona in this sector was just as roadless. Hence, getting to Glen Canyon’s ramparts took time and incentive for people headed in this direction, most of whom came to hike or book passage on a slow rafting idol, meaning no rapids (whitewater) from start to finish. Visitors were also assured of three common S’s for the effort and time it took to get here: solemnity, solitude and silence. By the time I got here (in the spring of 1970), the network of roads was vastly improved, including driving across the Glen Canyon Bridge (U. S. 89). Still, the Colorado River’s reversal of its own fortune had about a good seven years head start on me and many bucolic sanctuary’s were already underwater. But I had most of that decade to explore remaining dry sectors. Those somewhat hurried jaunts also convinced me I had missed the greatest show on Earth. (Which is why I tried to squeeze as many backpacking treks in as I could.) The main incentive was my paroxysm for that damn lake water that crept backward, and like a thief, slowly covered up the river’s tracks (its former channel). By the end of the decade all the celebrated places were under hundreds of feet of water, many of which I never got to see.

Later in the 1990s I came back to Glen Canyon, this time as a houseboat captain and Elderhostel instructor (now called Road Scholar). In those days, I was employed by Yavapai College (Prescott, Arizona). It almost seemed a sacrilege piloting the big, homely blue boats up and down the lake on week-long cruises some seven or eight weeks a year. But I reminded myself I was paid to teach geology, natural and human history, while also sharing my stories and experiences with students about the real Glen Canyon brooding some 500 feet below the keel. When I worked for Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff) and the Grand Canyon Field Institute, I had even more opportunity to teach and share the plight of the Glen. Besides, Glen Canyon has become the Southwest’s penultimate source for discussing ruined ecosystems directly caused by dams standing in the way of free-running rivers.

The popular play on words––That was Zen and this is Tao––infers the changes to Glen Canyon’s native looks is what it is. Again, many people today think the picturesque lake and backdrop of upper canyon features is an improvement. So be it! The descriptive prose and subjective commentary thus far mentioned is also not just ardent hype and literary embellishment. It is the way things were in the Glen’s hideaways right up to the day a concave wall of gleaming cement sealed her fate by its massive blockade. From that very day the dam went into full operation (i.e., controlled water releases), the impeded Colorado was forced to cover up one of its greatest canyon masterpieces. It took over twenty years to immerse the best part of the Glen up to her imaginary waistline (3,700 feet above sea level marking the lake’s full pool level).

Early on Dominy’s bureau (for it seemed he fancied such control over the agency) confidently announced to the public there would be no more seasonal flooding. The farmers and ranchers applauded. Then Dominy’s rescript (which sounded like such) turned to the potential tourism market that lay ahead, how in time there would be a lake, where before there was only a muddy river and a canyon with a modest height rising sheer above the channel. That big body of still water would also become the Southwest’s latest and most popular recreation area for boating, for anglers, and for anyone who ventured into the sunbelt country. Here millions of people would flock to a sprawling desert oasis created by the second highest dam in the world (at the time, the second), and a near match for its downstream, and slightly older counterpart, the Hoover Dam.

In a relative short duration since its forming, Lake Powell seemed a permanent, though artificial, attraction in the desert. Consider its amazing facts relative to numbers: capacity 24,320,000 acre-feet; activity capacity 20,876,000 acre-feet; inactive capacity 4,000,000 acre-feet; catchment area 108,335 square miles; surface area 161,390 acres; normal elevation 3,700 feet (full pool); and maximum water depth 583 feet (though averaging 500 feet).

Remember: These figures are the Lake Powell of old (before the drought stricken years that substantially lowered all these figures). Ergo, much has changed since the 1990s. Also, an acre foot equals a football-sized stadium filled with one foot of water (i.e., 325,851 gallons).

Borrowing the cliche, “Build it and they will come,” I believe something like it was intended as a marketing promo for Lake Powell. Where before Glen Canyon was fortunate to be visited by maybe a few hundred people a year, once the basin was laid out in its entirety millions of annual visitors flocked to this region. And why not, considering Lake Powell’s nearly 2,000 miles of shoreline. It was also the second largest storage basin in the country (the first being Lake Mead, though its basin was somewhat larger by the greater volume of water it contained). So it would appear Dominy had turned Porter’s phrase into The place everyone would know. He was also eager to champion the parlance Open spaces for all Americans!

The other selling point the BOR proclaimed was twofold: a hydroelectric dam facility deep inside the wan-colored wall of cement that could generate electricity upon demand, while the primary purpose of this so-called cash register dam was basin storage. Thus, the lower canyon profile filled with standing water, and much like an elongate moat in the middle, the lake effect was a secondary utility for tourists. What most people didn’t realize, however, was how the basin functioned as a makeshift mousetrap for sediment intended to purge Lake Mead’s alarming buildup of silt aggradation. Behold the first signs of trouble for Lake Powell, starting sometime around the early 1990s––because by helping its basin neighbor at the other end of the Grand Canyon it could not help itself given the same problem!

(FYI: For those who are unfamiliar with this term, aggradation is defined as the accumulation of sediment where a river’s flow begins to slow down. This is also what rivers do: transport sediment. In this region, it’s all Late Triassic and Early Jurassic sedimentary rock country highlighting the so-called Glen Canyon Group (Wingate, Moenave, Kayenta and Navajo Sandstone). These rock formations are not only lovely to behold but are vulnerable to erosion and break down into finer clastic particles. For millions of years the Colorado River has chiseled its way through this territory, steadily downcutting into its easily malleable terrain, like a knife slicing into hard bread.

But the river's 1,450-mile run down from the Rockies to the Gulf of California (at least it used to get that far) has effectively been thwarted by a basin filled with its own water. Just below Cataract Canyon’s wild and wooly whitewater stretches the emasculated river drops its sediment load into Lake Powell’s deeper water. At the other end, and hundreds of feet below the dam’s crest, it is not the same river water as it was before entering the basin. Meanwhile, downstream from one of the lake’s many marinas (notably, Hite and Bullfrog) are two other sediment laden rivers, the San Juan, which funnels in from the east, and the Escalante, which funnels in from the west. Combined, this trinity of inflowing rivers also delivers a whopping load of sediment. When each of these bodies of water enters the mousetrap (Powell), that stuff, also called silt, naturally falls out and ends up on the bottom of the basin. Initially, the fallout builds great alluvial fans at the mouths of each river, and in time those so-called hummocks move along the bottom and head down-lake. (Next week’s diary will have more to say about this strangeness.)

The other thing about sediment is how it occasionally gets stirred up and a brownish tincture shows up on the surface of rivers. To some degree, its filtered residue sometimes shows up in lake water. However, by the time rivers and streams empty into basins there’s barely any trace of silt (which is why people simply don’t notice it). Yet clear-standing or running water carries sediment. Always. Wash a pair of socks or underwear in a stream or river, then when dry put the apparel on and go for a walk. Within five minutes or less the abrasive and unseen residue will reveal itself: blisters or chafing. Thus sediment is always there even in water that looks deceptively pure and clean.

Unequivocally, aggradation buildup is a major concern that either the Bureau of Reclamation did not consider before building this dam or felt too confident the immense basin it literally held up could handle the excessive inflow (of sediment). This latter assumption, however, was errant or aberrant thinking on the bureau’s part, and that’s a nicer way of putting it.

Consider a contemporary scenario of just how daunting aggradation really is, and what too much sediment buildup can do to any basin, large or small. The 200-foot high Matilija Dam (on California’s Ventura River) was built in 1947. Its structure was built for flood control and basin storage. (This utility should sound familiar given what was mentioned earlier.) At the time, this project was considered another success (by the BOR and the actual dam builders, likely the Army Corps of Engineers). However, some officials weighing in on the matter deemed it was flawed from the outset! It turns out the opinion was spot on. For decades, the Matilija Dam has been holding back silt almost as much as water. Like the Glen Canyon and its downstream canyon neighbor, this California dam has deprived downstream beaches of precious sediment––namely, sandy beaches. What has also happened in the process was the basin merely filled up with too much gunk. Thus too much constipation for the dam to function the way it was intended. Recently in time, the Matilija Dam was decommissioned without ceremony. It has proved a costly and wasteful operation since day one.

Next, consider the 563-foot high measurement of the Glen Canyon Dam. Since Lake Powell has formed its basin has been filling with an estimated equivalent of some 30,000 dump truck loads of sediment every day. The estimated 100 million tons of annual aggradation is probably a too conservative figure considering the heavy sediment loads all three rivers dump into the lake. Still, imagine watching this many fully loaded dump trucks passing by your front door every day, all headed to a lake, then dumping all that stuff. Consider this same scene that likely began sometime around the early 1980s!

What is happening to Lake Powell is more or less what the opposition has been naming this body of water since the 1990s: Lake Foul. Dominy’s PR campaign and boast about his designated blue jewel effect is simply gorging itself with an unhealthy appetite of aggradation tantamount to basin constipation. Indeed, the usually azure-colored lake stretched out inside the Glen’s interior is in stress because of the silt, at least to the point the basin is downgrading its own utility, its own lifespan.

And so far there is no timely and economical way to remove this gooey, grayish gunk; at least no one yet has come up with practical solutions to do the job. This telling news about Lake Powell’s ailing and potential death knell (by aggradation) is also fiercely contested by those who simply can’t or won’t believe that big blue bathtub fixture is not going to make the original projected lifespan of some 700 years (at the time of its inception dam engineers thought this figure realistic). Not too long ago, however, a new estimate of some 350 years was announced (quietly, that is). More recently in time the latest figure was even more alarming, say, around 100 years, if even that much time. To these agnostics confronting science head-on, it is utterly inconceivable how the stupendous canyon-to-basin storage changeover begun in the late 1950s could possibly end so soon (i.e., that unmentionable 100-year estimate). Besides, what will happen to the hustle-bustle tourista’s mecca with its lakefront property––Page, Arizona? This question, and more diatribes relative to this complicated issue, will be discussed in next week’s diary.

Before adding the final touches to this introduction to the morass of the Glen Canyon-Lake Powell main subject matter, let’s consider that other aforementioned boogeyman and natural liability that has also set its grip on Lake Powell’s liquid assets since the mid to late-1990s: drought. And, yes, most climatologists are in agreement the usual stingy precipitation here, as well as affecting most of the Southwest and part of the West, is likely traceable to the global warming phenomenon. As a consequence, the lake’s elevation has seriously declined over the years, say, the past twenty or so. The telltale mineral scar on canyon walls verifies this fact. Lake Mead also faces a similar fate, whose drawn-down waters are alarmingly even lower. Thus far, no one has figured a way to control or coerce Mother Nature to change her current temperament, then bring on the snow and rain. Sure, there are decent wet cycles here and there, but then the dry cycle returns, seeming with vengeance.

There is even more to tell about the basin storage problem at this upper end of the Colorado River. This time it has to do with the dam itself. Since it first released a regulated flow of water spewing out below the dam the downstream ecology has changed. . .seriously changed. Remember: the river that flows into the basin at the other end is not quite the same river that exits the dam. Its chemistry has changed. Its temperature has changed. That dam cold greenish water is also usually clear to the stream bed (due to abundant sunlight and a hefty growth of algae that generates the tincture). The point is, the dam-released Colorado River that enters Grand Canyon National Park has always been a shock to life forms (about 46º on average) that were once used to much warmer, siltier and muddier water (80º on average). Moreover, because the dam acts as a snare, and therefore the basin traps most of the sediment behind its barrier, Grand Canyon’s riverine corridor is relatively sediment free. The old dragon river (a popular sobriquet before the 1960s) can therefore no longer do the job it once did. Namely, scour the canyon’s deep interior with grit in its teeth––sediment. It can’t even replace former sandy beaches with more sand. The fact is, too much of the shoreline is rocky since the dam went in. (And if you paid some 2,000 USD for a commercial week-long rafting adventure through the Grand, would you rather sleep or rest in a tent anchored to soft sand or rocks with sparing sand and comfort?)

This trickle down bad news is dams eventually do these sort of things to anything and everything downstream from their large or small concrete bulwarks, including earthen dams. Consider, too, how the cold water has chased away former native fish species, like humpback chubs, razorback suckers and the Colorado pikeminnow. The scientific word for this is extirpate, meaning rooted out (actually, eliminated is a better for it). The good news is the water is so clean and clear on most days bald eagles and osprey are frequently seen picking off trout––a species that obviously favors cold water conditions (and of course, trout). So, what’s the loss of long time resident fish species compared to predator avians and an abundance of trout? Like the last question, this one is also rhetorical.

Meanwhile, Lake Powell remains a big draw for tourists and continues to be the biggest money-maker for the entire region. Yet its multifaceted environmental problems are what they are. Is it the lake setting that irks some people or a wake-up call that cannot be put off too much longer, as though a snooze button is pressed or the nightmare will go away on its own? Hence, the discussions about its future continue to continue.

The other fact is how this subject matter has vitalized citizens, business owners, and vested government agencies to rethink outmoded ideas about earmarking open spaces to the advantage of humans. The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (GCNRA) is sorely in the spotlight these days, and not just for the sake of its lake-asset holdings geared to tourism. The bottom line about the unremitting discussions centered on Lake Powell’s environmental constitution requires the National Park Service (NPS) finally do something about these problems. Talk is good, but it never cooks the rice. Even Friends of Lake Powell (the advocates) want to see lake conditions improved, though not drained by dismantling the dam. The polemics over the years, and some of them quite outrageous given the accusations and disparaging name calling from either side of the dam-fence, demonstrates how impassioned these meeting of minds really are. Nevertheless, both sides are talking and so far neither opponent has knocked the block off the other.

All these manmade problems aside, there is still the daunting drought cycle that hangs over most of the Southwest, like a pall. It’s also reasonable how even proponents of the lake and dam concede this particular matter does not bode well for the lake much less the Southwest and parts of the West. Given this mitigated quagmire of declining health issue, Lake Powell is plainly a stressed downstream environment and nature’s spigot steadily turns more stingy. Moreover, weekly published calculations on the web relative to lake levels, and computed by scientists, are not fabricated, and therefore not hyperbole. Some marinas at the upper end of the lake are plainly in trouble due to unsightly mudflats. That’s because upper Lake Powell is now much further downstream compared to its former heyday years in the 1980s and early 1990s. As a matter of fact, Hite marina has been closed for years and it’s likely Bullfrog and Hall Crossing marinas may one day soon face the same fate. Cyclic bouts of drought also tend to do that sort of thing. Here in the Southwest the lack of precipitation is really not all that uncommon, especially in contemporary times. Surprising to some, the dry cycles are getting longer.

This subject brings to mind an eerie reminder of another people long ago who faced a similar fate: the Ancestral Puebloans. Popularly (and formerly) known as the Anasazi (although this designate has become outmoded many years ago), this prehistoric culture had migrated onto the Colorado Plateau sometime before the Common Era began. These so-called dry farmers managed to sustain their culture for well over a thousand years, mainly because they paid attention to how best to work with Mother Nature. There were dry cycles here and there, but the Ancestral Puebloans were a resourceful people; they came up with innovative ways to irrigate their farms and gardens (i.e., by check dams and reservoirs that funneled water to wherever it was needed). These were a sustainable and sage people in all ways. Their adopted homeland was also just that: a typically arid homeland that required astute attention to its resources.

Then in the late 13th Century, say, around 1287, the latest drought had set in and simply did not let go. In time, various communities, most of whom lived and thrived in and around the Four Corners axis region (say, Cortez, Colorado), made a pivotal decision to vacate their villages. The estimated number of Ancestral Puebloans in that mass diaspora may have topped over 100,000. They abandoned their great stone cities, like Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, Betatakin and Keet Seel, including all the other now preserved archeological ruins that are testimony to an abiding people who knew when it was time to go. And they never returned!

What if those frequent and funeral predictions by today’s climatologists are more factual than conjecture and hearsay (as some naysayers tend to think)? Where would the overcrowded Southwest’s people go today, whose numbers are in the mega millions? With this region’s most precious elixir, water, drawn down to the lowest levels ever recorded in modern history (for this sector of North America, at least), there is no fast and sure way to replenish this resource. Both the Colorado and Green rivers are simply over tapped resources by consumers and industries, as well as hampered by too many dams and too many reservoirs––these many basin storage units deemed necessary by the Colorado River Storage Project inception (passed in 1956), whose idea first began when the Colorado River Compact was signed in 1922. Ever since key upper and lower basin states (Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and California) are forced to deal with its limited water resource, what Marc Reisner referred to as a Cadillac Desert (also the title of one of his most telling books).

Again, that was Zen and this is Tao. With steadily increasing global temperature, a relentless drought that affects parts of the world (while drowning others with too much precipitation), including all the rest of the worrisome aspects of global changes (from rising greenhouse emissions and seas to diminishing ice at both polar caps), Mother Nature has laid down her gauntlet in contemporary times, and in a variety of challenging ways. Here in this part of the world the Southwest’s canary in the coal mine scenario takes the form of two large basins at either end of the Grand Canyon. It appears we are losing both, yet the persistence of Page and other impassioned supporters of Lake Powell refuse to give up faith that its coveted and contested waterfront property asset will endure. (This prevalent attitude is confirmed on this website (, particularly listed in the site’s “25 Reasons Not to Drain Lake Powell.”)

Of course, there is nothing wrong with faith. Then again, there is something awry with consistently going against scientific facts, whose representative scientists aren’t just trying to scare the hell out of people. They’re also insisting that mythical river in Egypt, Denial, has no place in the usual droll politics that arises when a colloquy about Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon Dam are openly debated. As alluded to earlier, so far there is no satisfying resolution, and no serious attempts to rectify a bad situation that, by all accounts (given scientific evidence), is worsening. Yet so is aggradation and human-caused pollutants filtering through the lake.

If asked for a personal and concluding statement to this lengthy first missive, I would say the Bureau of Reclamation put the goddamn dam in the wrong dam place. That’s as nice as I can put it, because the drowning of a canyon lady really should never have happened in this sector. The Glen Canyon Dam was also an 11th hour choice (for a dam site), that is, after the Echo Lake project was defeated by protestors. Question is: Was it really an 11th hour selection or did the bureau know something many decades ago about numerous potential dam sites even before the Hoover Dam went in (in the mid-1930s)? There is also the fact Dominy wasn’t quite satisfied with the Glen Canyon Dam’s location but figured his next target would be none other than a downstream national park. Indeed, construction on one of those three proposed dam sites began not too long after the Glen Canyon Dam was built.

This is part 1 of 3 diaries pertaining to this subject matter. Pro and con intelligent commentary always welcomed. The continuation of this post follows next week.

Rich Holtzin
Albuquerque, NM

Kindly Note: Given the upcoming series of missives I do not represent any fraternal pro environmental organization, no institution or government agency associated with Glen Canyon, and no authority whatsoever. Neither am I a scientist by trade, such as a climatologist or hydrologist. I just happen to be a paramour of the Glen and what happened here truly was an environmental sin. The least I can do is write in defense of this drowned canyon lady.


10:03 AM PT: Thank you for the rec list, as this is my first diary posting...ever. And
she' thanks you, as well...that lovely drowned lady who still means so much to me (and apparently to the DKos community! Amen and A-women!

1:48 PM PT: Folks, I am STILL overwhelmed with all your comments, your support, and some of the great stories you're sharing (and not just for me, but for everyone in the DKos community). WOW! I am going to take a wee break from posting (will be back at it later on) and in the meantime, to all you realistic or latent Monkey Wrencher types, Abbey had some literary fun with his sibling tomes on the dam, but lest it be forgotten. . .there was a study done years ago about, well, what happens if the Glen Canyon Dam were to topple (and it damn near did in 1983. . .by nature's hand). Turns out every dam down the line would not be capable of holding back such a mega deluge. Ergo, every dam and basin would utterly fail. Talk about a huge swamping and quick-running water for the Southwest (and useless). So, if anything, let's just let nature handle the problem, and, of course, supporting the scientific paths, even the conjecture of a long-running drought, is what it is. Besides, it wouldn't hurt any of us living here to be ultra conservative when using water. And, no, I'm not a fan of golf courses and such that like the green and use fresh water to keep it that way. Still, it is a policy and practice that's environmentally anathema to sustainability. But that's just me and how I see things. One thing's for sure and this Lake Powell topic has certainly found its support in this DKos community. Very much appreciated, too.

Originally posted to richholtzin on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 06:37 AM PST.

Also republished by Baja Arizona Kossacks, Public Lands, J Town, Phoenix Kossacks, Climate Change SOS, Salt Lake City Kossacks, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  beautiful (22+ / 0-)

    I've been to Lake Powell once, maybe 15 years ago.  As we boated around the lake meandering through the byways and stood overlooking the dam, I couldn't help but think: "I wish I'd been here before..."  

    It must have been breathtaking in its natural state.  Thank you for sharing this.

    There is no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast.

    by puzzled on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 08:00:59 AM PST

  •  Great Diary (26+ / 0-)

    Ed Abbey summed it up nicely-

    "No man-made structure in all of American history has been hated so much, by so many, for so long, with such good reason, as that Glen Canyon Dam at Page, Arizona, Shithead Capital of Coconino County."

    "All dams are ugly, but the Glen Canyon Dam is sinful ugly."

    "The canyonlands did have a heart, a living heart, and that heart was the Glen Canyon and the wild Colorado"

    He also said we should take solace because in a thousand years the dam will be nothing but a giant waterfall.

    Granny Storm Crow's MMJ Reference List-686 pages of hyperlinks in PDF format Yesterday's history, tomorrow's a mystery. Today is a gift and that's why it's called "The Present".

    by elkhunter on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 08:12:30 AM PST

  •  Looking forward to the follow up diaries (19+ / 0-)

    The Desert Southwest has a way of capturing your heart. Even if you've never been there, you'll fall in love with it after reading Ed Abbey's "Desert Solitaire". I fell in love after the first sentence..."This is the most beautiful place in the world."

    Reading "A Story That Stands Like A Dam" will raise the hair on the back of your neck.

    Granny Storm Crow's MMJ Reference List-686 pages of hyperlinks in PDF format Yesterday's history, tomorrow's a mystery. Today is a gift and that's why it's called "The Present".

    by elkhunter on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 08:21:20 AM PST

    •  I keep buying copies of that book (17+ / 0-)

      and giving it away. I bet I've done it a dozen times. Thank gawd for thrift stores with book sections.

      "The scientific nature of the ordinary man is to go on out and do the best you can." John Prine

      by high uintas on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 09:33:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  better way to fall in love: go there (6+ / 0-)

      doesn't have to be Arizona. New Mexico is lovely (and less spoilt).

      LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

      by BlackSheep1 on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 11:25:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I would also recommend (13+ / 0-)

      John McPhee's "Encounters with the Archdruid", particularly the third section, which documents a Colorado River raft trip taken by David Brower and Floyd Dominy, after the dam went in. It's been years since I read it, but I remember being fascinated. McPhee is a treasure.

      Also, it's worth searching out Eliot Porter's book for the photos of the Glen.

      Besides the evident "bathtub ring" around the lake, several years ago, some of the side canyons that hadn't been seen in decades became accessible again, as they drained from the dropping water levels in the lake. It produced a lot of excitement for hikers/lovers of the landscape. The speed with which species returned to colonize these places was remarkable.

      Was the author able to visit any of these in recent years?

      Ed Abbey (especially Desert Solitaire) is partly responsible for my move to Utah for grad school in 1985, though he would not be honored by that, as he didn't want any more people coming in. At least I settled in SLC, rather than cluttering up his beloved redrock desert. Between the Wasatch Mountains, the redrock of southern Utah, and a University w/ good programs in both creative writing and molecular biology/genetics, the choice was a natural.

      Unfortunately, there is way too much Utah wilderness that I never got to before succumbing to bad knees, chronic tendinitis, and weight gain (yes, these are related things). But I still love knowing that several national parks and a wealth of other federal land is just hours (and much less, for the mountains) from my comfy perch in the city.
      I love the conveniences and cultural amenities of a city with a university (not to mention a major film festival), and I also love that outside of the Wasatch Front corridor, most of the state is empty. It's the best of both worlds.

      The desert cleanses and quiets the spirit like nothing else. Though I'm a fuzzy agnostic, I've always said that God may vacation in Hawaii, but he comes to southern Utah to meditate.

  •  thanks, Azazello, for reposting. . . (12+ / 0-)

    to Baja Arizona Kossacks. Very much appreciated your support on this diary and there will be two more to follow. Mucho gratias from the Land of Enchantment!

    •  Rich - I wrote a book a few years ago (4+ / 0-)

      on Lake Powell with Gary Ladd.

      I have a lot of material still that might be of interest, including, somewhere, a never-published follow up interview with both Dominy (whom I met at the Lake in 1993 or 94) and soon thereafter David Brower.

      Though, that said, you're doing a great job!

      "I can't do it by myself. No president can. Remember: Change doesn't happen from the top. It happens because of you." B Obama, 2008

      by nzanne on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 03:44:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  would love to see those interviews (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Grab these, Rich!

        •  Thanks for the tip... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wasatch, subtropolis

          and grab it, I will, wasatch. Now I have to figure a way get my hands on this never published tome. Dominy, love the guy, hate the guy, he was always an interesting man who held his own in any discourse, even though, as Brower once pointed out, the bureau didn't always do the math right. (The Rainbow Bridge business and such.) David is another interesting fellow and always a good read. Thanks for the suggesting (grabbing these. . .your comment).

          Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

          by richholtzin on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 05:44:36 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Dominy was certainly a character. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            wasatch, subtropolis

            When I was in Page working with Gary Ladd, one day a friend of his called us. She had just been down on the LP Resort docks and some old guy was waving his arms around yelling to all who would listen, "I created all this." She figured it was Dominy. Sure enough. Had a great chat with him that afternoon as he waited for his fellow houseboaters to show up....

            "I can't do it by myself. No president can. Remember: Change doesn't happen from the top. It happens because of you." B Obama, 2008

            by nzanne on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 12:00:13 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  something I am interested in. . . (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wasatch, subtropolis

        this work you co-wrote with Gary. (He's also with the Grand Canyon Field Institute and so I'm naturally biased about the man's work.) Now you and I, nzanne, need to figure out how to get this work to me. . .rather I need to do it. In the larger tome these missives are loosely based on, sure, I can get into the Dominy-Brower dialectical, but I don't think these shorter missives, the diaries, is a place to do it. But I know from reading the comments thus far this DKos audience would likely enjoy hearing more about these two, especially Floyd D. I wonder if I can write something on this particular subject some day, for DKos, and write it as an FYI article, assuming some people don't know the man (or Brower). Let me think about it. It will be an interesting challenge and pleasure coming up with such.

        Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

        by richholtzin on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 05:48:53 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  rich - contact me if interested (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wasatch, subtropolis

          at anne at solarseminars dot org

          I worry about the interviews I did - so many computers ago, who knows if I actually kept a workable file in a 'modern' enough format to recover.

          Gary and I did Lake Powell in 1994. A beautiful photographic book with some interpretive text. Very interesting to research, obviously.

          Am now reading A Great Aridness which might be one of the best books about climate change and the SW I've ever read.

          "I can't do it by myself. No president can. Remember: Change doesn't happen from the top. It happens because of you." B Obama, 2008

          by nzanne on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 11:43:29 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Well-written. The Winner Will Be the Water.... (17+ / 0-)

    ...but not in the way the region's pro-exploitation boosters thought it would.  Within the next 100 years, the current population of the southwest (including especially mega-cities such as Las Vegas and Phoenix) will prove as unsustainable to their current populations as the Anasasi pueblo cities were to its residents, due to water issues.  The only potential long-term engineering "fix" would be if an economically feasible way to desalinate ocean water and pipe it into the region on the necessary scale was found (and would doubtless bring still more unexpected problems).

    Isn't yet another potential long-term problem for the Glen Canyon Dam structure itself the fact that it's sited and anchored in a sandstone formation (instead of e.g. granite) that's vulnerable to erosion?

  •  This diary deserves more attention (21+ / 0-)

    There is a whole generation of people who have no idea what happened to Glen Canyon, what was lost and why. Thank you so much for shining the light of attention on it.

    "The scientific nature of the ordinary man is to go on out and do the best you can." John Prine

    by high uintas on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 09:05:09 AM PST

  •  Fascinating (7+ / 0-)

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge.  I have long admired the beauty of the Southwest though I've only been there twice.  I always enjoy learning more about it.  It is sad that dams cover such beauty, even as they bring beauty of their own.

    •  another noteworthy praise. . . (10+ / 0-)

      for the trend of covering up so many scenic icons, in this case, Glen Canyon. At first, there was hardly any support, much less notice, to what happened here, at least at the time the dam went in. But these years there is so many people, even Lake Powell advocates, who have begun to wonder just what really is beneath some 500 plus feet of water. I can assure you the best part of this lady is down there. After the third diary is posted I will share a personal story of what has to be the greatest chamber in her treasure trove: the Cathedral in the Desert. If, after posting this bonus diary, the description doesn't make people longing for such beauty, for such places, I really don't know what else could. Stay tuned. And thank you for your support of this first positing.

  •  i am sad that we never made it to the canyon (8+ / 0-)

    before it was under water. i have been there, and find it a fascinating place. thanks for this

    "You've got to stop this war in Afghanistan." final words of R Holbrooke

    by UTvoter on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 09:41:31 AM PST

    •  you are one of the lucky ones. . . (9+ / 0-)

      who had a chance to see, know and experience the canyon lady before she went under. I was, too, and I think this is what haunts some of us, even those who never had the opportunity, because even the best poets cannot find adequate words to describe this quiet canyon's real and singular beauty. Love to hear more about your time spent there, UTvoter. That bonus piece, by the way, about the 'Cathedral' is from a larger tome I will one day publish, which is dedicated to George Steck's "Beauty Lost," his 8mm vintage film he gave me many years ago. I cannot think of a more apt name for what happened here.

  •  Powerful, painful diary... (11+ / 0-)

    Rich.  I am sure you will cover it, but there is a staggering water loss from both Lake Mead and Powell by evaporation.  Over centuries, the lake water will become more saline and useless for irrigation.  Blow the f***ing dams up!

    The last sound on earth will be the squawk of an optimist.

    by CT yanqui on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 09:47:30 AM PST

    •  the epic water loss. . . (12+ / 0-)

      as you put it, CT yanqui, will indeed be covered in the next two diaries. If nothing else, this global warming, or by whatever name you use to describe the weirdness of global weather, is the trump card that shows how great the draw-down of both lakes really is, and how the deluge of humans living here in the Southwest is the proverbial straw breaking the camel's back. So, yes, stay tuned for a bit of that diatribe, too. . .the amazing loss of basin water and the continuing intrigue of drought throughout the sunbelt region (the Southwest fasting becoming the southworst given some people's perspective on the matter).

      •  I wonder if we've done stuff with dams (7+ / 0-)

        that's interrupted the natural cycle of water flow, and thus contributed to the water loss, because we just did not think through what we're doing. Also, isn't this exact same thing going to happen to that humongous new three-river reservoir in China in 50 to 75 years?

        LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

        by BlackSheep1 on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 11:35:50 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  yes, sometimes I feel a little guilty (5+ / 0-)

        adding to the population. Salt Lake City is not as dry as southern Utah, but depends on snowmelt for its water. The population size (always growing rapidly) is at the edge of sustainability re: water, which is greatly exacerbated by longer drought cycles.

        Something that has always puzzled me is the ranchers who are so vehemently opposed to wilderness designation that restricts their grazing opportunities. Hello! This is desert! How on earth was it ever considered to be economically viable to raise livestock in such an arid clime? Move to the grasslands of Kansas or Nebraska if that's what you want to do. Sheep might make some marginal sense, but cattle?? How many more acres does it take to feed a cow here? What a ridiculous use of land.

  •  Thank you for the beautiful writing & history (7+ / 0-)

    lesson.  As things happen in life, I picked my Lake Powell tshirt to wear this morning before I read your diary.

    I did not know the history of Lake Powell before today. I can't wait for the rest of your series.

    "I came for the politics and stayed for the community" - h/t the fabulous earicicle

    by shortgirl on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 10:02:47 AM PST

  •  "The Place No One Knew" . . . (11+ / 0-)

    I have both an old (1966 edition) and recent reprint . . . I look at them when I feel the need for a good cry.

    Probably just as much was lost to the monster downstream, but no one documented that . . .

    Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

    by Deward Hastings on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 10:04:29 AM PST

    •  a crying shame. . . (9+ / 0-)

      and such genuine feelings, Deward, about what happened here. I have a signed of the book. I even met the man many years ago on one of his many photographic assignments. At one time or the other, I seemed to meet a lot of folks who stood up for the Glen, but Porter said later words to the effect he likely could not reshoot those Glen Canyon photographs for fear of tearing up the camera lens. Something like that. But let's keep pulling for commonsense to one day prevail, especially the thought of some future generation having an opportunity to see what most of us will never see again in our lifetime. . .the way she was before big blue came along.

  •  Thanks for this diary. On my bookshelf (9+ / 0-)

    I have a copy of The Place No One Knew: Glen Canyon on the Colorado by Elliot Porter, edited by David Brower. I've had it since the late 1960's. The photos in the book are magnificent. I haven't looked at it for a while, but I pulled it out after reading your diary.

    The list price of the book (paperback edition) was $3.95 when I bought it. I found a 2000 oversized paperback edition listed on Amazon for $159.82.

    •  A wonderful, wonderful, beautiful book. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GDbot, wasatch

      If Porter had been able to get into the hands of every American in the early 60s we'd still have the magificent Glen Canyon, rather than Lake Foul.

      Resist much, obey little. ~~Edward Abbey, via Walt Whitman

      by willyr on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 05:13:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  spot on. . . (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GDbot, willyr, wasatch

        willyr, and I ask this very question in the larger tome I wrote, which these diary missives are, in part, influenced by. . .specifically, if more people had their hands on photos and books about Glen Canyon, if people only knew how many archeological ruins would be lost forever in the great deluge, and the thousands of animals that drowned because they could not climb out in time. . .I think Americans would have come to her rescue. At the very least, Dominy would not have had such an easy go of it given his ambitions to create his "blue jewel" in an artificial oasis setting. Resist much, obey little, indeed!

        Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

        by richholtzin on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 05:19:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          for those who are inspired by your diary---as I am---is one of many organizations that are working to save the magnificent red rock wilderness. If we'd had a SUWA in the early 60s we might not be facing a lot of these issues now.

          I worked for SUWA for several years, and continue to support their work---because, after all, it's our country.

          As Ed Abbey said, "God bless America. Let's save some of it."

          Check out this link to the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance

          Resist much, obey little. ~~Edward Abbey, via Walt Whitman

          by willyr on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 05:58:14 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Fabulous diary, very informative and educational. (7+ / 0-)

    I hotlisted it to come back to savor the rest in installments later, as it is very long. Arizona is my favorite state, I have relatives there, but don't have the opportunity to visit often. However, I did spend a couple of days at Lake Powell some years ago and found it stunning, even as I wondered about the treasures that lay concealed at the bottom.

    Thanks for this history and the gorgeous photos.

    „Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.“ - Bertolt Brecht

    by translatorpro on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 10:18:08 AM PST

    •  ah, a Bertolt Brcht fan. . . (8+ / 0-)

      ich auch! And wie ghets and viele danke for your comments, translatorpro. I have taught for a couple university and colleges in Airyzony, and of course, the field institute. Apart from the usual geology and ecology stuff, the love of Southwestern history is a must. I sometimes think I should have been an historian and less a glorified trail tramp given my usual roles. Ah well. And, yes, treasures that lay concealed. . .you hit the proverbial nail on the head. Let's everyone go out and procure THE PLACE NO ONE KNEW, Porter's epic book of photography, and a very nice intro by David Brower. It will at least generate a validity of just how many treasures were lost in that sunken world below the waterline. Thanks, again, for commenting.

  •  Wonderful, well-written diary! (11+ / 0-)

    I often teach McPhee's Encounters with the Archdruid, which includes the story about Dominy and Brower going down the river with him before the dam was built—a great piece to use in the classroom to get both sides of the debate.

    About 10 years ago I was working for an organization that interviewed Dominy for a documentary. He was pretty old, but still a bourbon-swilling cantankerous rascal who refused to give an inch on his dam-building. You probably know Katie Lee in Jerome, she's an old friend and firebrand.

    I look forward to parts 2 and 3! Hope this gets more attention.  

    stay together / learn the flowers / go light - Gary Snyder

    by Mother Mags on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 10:19:47 AM PST

  •  Nicely done, thanks for the diary. (7+ / 0-)

    Never have been to Lake Powell, but now I want to go.  Before it's too late, for both it and me.

    The road to Hell is paved with pragmatism.

    by TheOrchid on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 10:47:56 AM PST

    •  by all means. . . (7+ / 0-)

      visit and enjoy the lake; the Glen Canyon country, and all the rest of this wondrous southeast Utah (bordering northeast Arizona) landscaping. I like that saying, "The road to hell is paved with pragmatism." Thanks for sharing it. Sure has been the case here in the Southwest. If you live long enough, you might even get a chance to see the Glen if she does dry out (once the lake goes way). Stranger things have happened before, you know. Thanks, again, for your comments.

  •  Republished in J Town (8+ / 0-)

    Republished in the J Town Babbling Brook

    Burble Burble

    Thank you

    Love is the lasting legacy of our lives

    by princesspat on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 11:04:04 AM PST

    •  and a big thank you. . . (9+ / 0-)

      for you and the J Town folks. . .republishing this piece. I look forward to looking up the site and learning more about the site. Love is indeed the lasting legacy of our lives. I include the sentiment for nature's showcase and for all creatures great and small, domestic and feral.

      •  I grew up in the southwest..... (9+ / 0-)

        ....and loved exploring the canyon lands with my grand parents. So in 1964 or 1965 (I've forgotten the exact date) when I spent a week exploring Lake Powell by boat I was both fascinated and horrified. It was a memorable week....I don't remember seeing another person, just the water, the canyons and the sky. But I remember the sadness I felt just as clearly.

        I live in Wa State now, and as dams are being removed and  attempts to restore the rivers and land are beginning I feel the same sadness.

        The Elwah Dam restoration project is interesting.

        Thank you for writing about this important topic.

        Love is the lasting legacy of our lives

        by princesspat on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 11:30:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  thank you, princesspat. . . (8+ / 0-)

          for your own salutations to the past when you were here and got to see firsthand some of the Glen before her total immersion (at full pool level, 3,700 feet) in the 1980s. If it was 64 or 65, then you got to be on that ole dragon river, the Colorado, since the dam works doesn't go into full swing until 1966. Ergo, reversing the Colorado and forced to cover up its original channel by creating the lake. Anyway, the Elwah Dam incident is one of those happy endings for everyone, and I gather tribal people are ecstatic to have things back the way they were. Seems this sort of dam-raising is going on in many places throughout California, and elsewhere. So, there is trend and a questionable forum that confronts the dam-building agencies these days. I also could have used other examples of ruinous dams, but the Elwah people sure got my heart given their plight. Thanks for your positive feedback. Really.

  •  What a great diary! One of my favorite subjects! (10+ / 0-)

    Thanks for a lot of work!  

    My wife and I went down Cataract Canyon at low water (Labor Day weekend) in 2003, and ended up spending night three of the trip on the world's biggest mudflat just across from Hite Marina - or what used to be Hite Marina.  

    At that time, given the low water level, Lake Powell had become the Colorado River again, all the way down to a few miles below Hite.  The reservoir normally stops all flows just below Big Drop 3 on Cataract, but we had current all the way through lower Cataract and on through Narrow Canyon, to the Dirty Devil River and beyond.

    Miles and miles of mud - surreal and strangely busy.  Every ten seconds or so you'd hear a loud slushy-sounding "Whummp!" as another 50 or 100 pound chunk of silt slid off into the river.  Little craters erupting CO2 from decaying vegetation pockmarked the bar, looking like miniature shield volcanoes.  Tamarisk and willow and cottonwood and wildflowers were everywhere below the high-water line, growing smaller as the sides of the bar fell away.  

    And below our feet, the mud filled the old river channel, meaning that we were standing on a mass of silt at least 125 feet deep, deeper in spots.  The sheer quantity of silt - which has nowhere to go but down to the face of the dam - was nothing short of stunning.

    As you note, the day of reckoning is approaching rapidly for Glen Canyon, Elephant Butte, Mead and a whole lot of other western reservoirs.  In Cadillac Desert, Reisner quotes Luna Leopold, one of the best hydrologists in America, who notes that everything that we've done to date has been fairly small-scale.  No one has ever tried to deal with any of the big canyon reservoirs out west, and no one is sure that any remedial action will make any serious difference in the long run.

    I'd also recommend the book "Dead Pool" by James Lawrence Powell.  It's all about the impending end of electrical generation at Glen Canyon Dam, since turbine function will be seriously impaired long before the reservoir silts, and about the loss of ability to control outflows, thanks again to relentless siltation.

    What was done at Glen Canyon was nothing short of criminal.  It should have been a national park, and we've only begun to pay the full costs for what I to this day can only view as an act of sacrilege.

    •  what a memory to share. . . (6+ / 0-)

      hatrack. . .those unsightly, ungodly mudflats. And good for you for noticing the Colorado River has returned! I mean, we see the original channel grooved through that messy upper sector. As the draw-down continues, and the drought, more of the upper sector will do likewise. The silt is so thick, in places, and of course the latest sonar mapping (whose test results I am hoping to get permission to post on the final diary) reveals the real ugly story beneath the picturesque lake (it can be that for most people). The aggradation problem is more focused in the second and third diaries, and a bit more technical-minded stuff for those who want to read it. What amazes me is the erudite audience I am writing to, and hearing responses from, and that means I'm learning something from you folks, as well. Incidentally, "Dead Pool," and every other book ever written on Glen Canyon is in my library. Indeed, being with the field institute (the Grand Canyon's) entails a lot of constant reading, just to keep up with the enormity of contemporary information that retells the story of the Southwest. It is also heartening for me to read such support for a common subject, even though I do not intend slandering those who also enjoy Lake Powell. But it's dying and choking on its own debris. Likely, the dam works will be fouled and that'll be the end of the nearly constant indecision by vested interests trying to keep both sides from reaching a final resolution on the matter.

      •  As I understand it, silt flow is continuous . . . (7+ / 0-)

        From the end of the headward delta, flows continue, 24/7, along the bottom of the reservoir until they encounter the upstream face of the dam.  Having reached its final (for now) resting place, the silt finally stops moving and begins to pile up.

        This presents a picture that's kind of hard to visualize - a massive headward delta, dozens of miles long and hundreds of yards wide in spots and clearly visible in satellite imagery, in tandem with a completely invisible delta hundreds of feet beneath the reservoir surface at the opposite end.

        The encouraging thing I can take from efforts to deal with this issue in the past 20 years, and the experience gained at places like Elwha, Glines Canyon, Gold Ray and Matalija is that we're at least taking a few baby steps towards facing reality squarely, and gaining at least some technical expertise along the way.  

        But what it comes down to is whether what we've learned is scalable when the time comes to deal with the really big structures like Hoover and Glen Canyon.  By way of example, other than our surreal evening hiking Hite Island (my own name for the big bar), what I remember most is the physical setting of lower Cataract and Narrow Canyons upstream.  For miles and miles,  sun-baked silt bars rose like brick walls, 10, 15, and sometimes 20 feet above the river on both sides, completely filling the canyons.  So much silt, so much gravity, so much . . .  inevitability.

    •  P. S. (6+ / 0-)

      Cadillac Desert is possibly the only book of its kind I have ever read and did not want to finish. But I did. I also got to talk to Marc (on the phone) about a Glen Canyon tome I was writing years ago (still in the rough draft stage, however) and he was very helpful with his suggestions. At the time, I also did not know he was terminally ill with pancreatic cancer. And he never mentioned anything about this to me. He just wanted to help a new writer get established in an old battlefield...this 'Cadillac Desert,' so aptly name and describing why money in the West always follows the path of money.

  •  thanks RLMILLER. . . (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jlms qkw, Larsstephens, wasatch

    for reposting on Public Lands. Most kind of you!

  •  really excellent Rich (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jlms qkw, Larsstephens, wasatch

    and brings back the sense of loss from that time so well.

    I can't wait until the industrial world decides to mine the taxpayers for Glen Canyon silt removal engineering or some such BP type projects...(referring to the Gulf Watchers experiences here of the underwater/above water industry during the Macondo be continued.)

    Looking forward to more from you!

    This machine kills Fascists.

    by KenBee on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 11:55:20 AM PST

    •  i'm thinking the water users of (5+ / 0-)

      los angeles, central valley, etc. should pony up for the cleanup.  

      let's tie costs to benefits when we can.  

      have you heard about the (excuse me, i must cuss now) project to pump water from lake powell toward st. george (and/or las vegas)?  

      Ted Kennedy: “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die…”

      by jlms qkw on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 12:57:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  water flows... (7+ / 0-)

        always down or uphill wherever the money goes. The Navajo folks are also trying to get a pipeline feed to their lands, but that's not likely going to happen, anymore than LV is going to get water, or St. George (Dixie, the cotton crop they have growing). Interesting to point out, when the Upper and Lower Basin states divvied up the Colorado River's allotment (in 1922) Nevada thought, at the time, they really didn't need their entire share, and so gave some of it away (to California, I believe it was). Today they are still battling it out in the courts and trying to reverse the decision. Lake Mead, according to the most dire forecast, will be completely gone within 13 or so years. Now we see Lost Wages and other regional places scrambling for even a cat's share of water, though the lion's share is long gone for all basin states. Thanks for posting your comments. If LA and other communities cough up the money dinner for you is on me. I think it's never going to happen. I do like your optimistic approach, however.

        Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

        by richholtzin on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 01:10:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  plus the year they measured the colorado (5+ / 0-)

          river flow at the maximum flow year.  ::duh::

          also, LV is trying to get the water from snake valley in Nevado & Utah.  

          Ted Kennedy: “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die…”

          by jlms qkw on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 01:16:20 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Cotton!?!? (0+ / 0-)

          and in the cal central valley, the tunnel project is still alive to move Sac Delta water to the central valley for...cotton.

          aka houses in la...

          This machine kills Fascists.

          by KenBee on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 04:02:01 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  KenBee. . . (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            GDbot, KenBee, wasatch

            glad you posted this. Water, as you are well aware, is a resource dominated by water wizards in key states, and the machination behind this touchy subject was best depicted in Marc Reisner's well researched and written tome, "Cadillac Desert." Major Powell was also a prophet in his time who saw the intrigue and entanglements in his time, the late 19th Century. And he paid dearly for his outspoken views (that is, after his hero status wore off and he was more or less subjugated to lesser government posts. Wallace Stegner's, "Beyond the 100th Meridian," is another great read on the strangeness of settling the West. And, yes, cotton, is a thirsty plant and you'd think places like Phoenix and central California would have sense enough to grow crops that aren't water hungry. Geesh!

            Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

            by richholtzin on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 05:16:07 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  dear diarist (9+ / 0-)

    i think i love you.

    this is a totally awesome first diary.  i so look forward to your futures ones too.  

    moved to utah 25.5 years ago.  have hiked, backpacked, driven all over the intermountain, esp southern utah.

    if i were to ever blow up a dam, it would be that one.

    i had the privilege of reading "desert solitaire" while camping at arches.  

    kids and i were just in arches/island in the sky for fall break.  right before the news about a new NM broke.  

    my spirit is home in the red rock.  

    all of these comments are so excellent.  i think i have an anecdote suitable for you:

    Bill McKibben was in SLC Monday night for Do the Math tour.  He stopped by Ken Sander's Rare Books to see Tim deChristopher.  While he was there, he bought a copy of The Monkeywrench Gang, and Tim rang it up.  And iirc, Bill took a photo.  And Bill and I believe Ed Abbey would be pleased.  

    Ted Kennedy: “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die…”

    by jlms qkw on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 12:55:34 PM PST

  •  To sense the loss... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wasatch, Carol in San Antonio, KenBee

    get yourself a copy of the magnificent:

    Glen Canyon:  Images of a Lost World

    by Tad Nichols

    Nichols photographed and studied Glen Canyon . . . an extraordinarily powerful, unforgiving, and unspoiled canyon.  One hundred and sixty black-and-white images demonstrate the enduring quality of duotone photgraphs in honoring a place . . . . Outstanding.  Recommended.  

    -Library Journal

    ...the soft, shadowed beauty that [Nichols] recorded in these remarkable black-and-white shots has an etheral quality, a sense of memory hanging just beyond recall.

    -Outside Magazine

    •  Tad Nicols. . . (4+ / 0-)

      of the WE THREE. . .certainly one of my top two or three photographers who did such excellent work with the camera and the Glen. Can you imagine going down river with those three! Did you also know he and his cohorts likely bequeathed most of Glen Canyon's names for those wondrous hideaways? Of course, Major Powell named a few, like Music Temple, but Tad and his pals had more time to explore the backcountry. Anyway, that book is among my very favorites and graces my library and fills my mind with wonders every time I peruse the pages. Thanks for the reminder, though.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 02:34:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Your article (thanks) ... (4+ / 0-)

        ...prompted me to get out one of my virginal copies of Nichols' work (still wrapped in its original cellophane), to look once again onto that past.  I had kept it in pristine condition for a special occasion.  

        It's really quite difficult to view.

        Anyway (to move on, sniff), I wondered if you'd ever read Katie Lee's (of 'We Three') All My Rivers Are Gone, and could recommend?

        •  oh yes, indeedy. . . (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Roger Lamb, KenBee, wasatch

          Roger, I have read Katie's tome, "All My Rivers Are Gone!" and here I thought everyone has read this work. Guess not. I was honored to meet her many years ago and heard so many wonderful other stories about Hatch and Nicols, even Bert L. You know, people of the Glen, even though we have never met each other in person, somehow join a greater family, a special family, and it's these special works, by Katie, and so many others, that at least creates a personal touchstone for all of us tapping into the memory field of days gone by. In a way, Glen Canyon, that lady deep below the lake, has never died. It's just water and that can't last forever, can it? Sniff-sniff, indeed. To see Tad's photos generates a strange brew of awe and sadness at the same time. You know.

          Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

          by richholtzin on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 05:07:59 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  A disturbing sight in Marble Canyon (below GCD) is (6+ / 0-)

    ...the huge test drill-bores that were made in the canyon walls at mile 39 below Lee's Ferry for the proposed Marble Canyon Dam (one of two further projects the Bureau of Reclamation had in mind after Glen Canyon Dam).  Had this project been built, it would have effectively ended boat access to run the Colorado River through Grand Canyon.   The other abandoned project was the proposed Bridge Canyon Dam at around mile 235, which would have stood 740 ft high above river level, and effectively destroyed much of the Grand Canyon.

    Fortunately, the Sierra Club and David Brower were successful in mounting sufficient opposition to stop these two projects in time from ever being built.  Unfortunately, Brower's greatest regret of his career was not adequately resisting those within the Sierra Club wanting to politically compromise to assure killing dam proposals at Dinosaur National Monument upstream in return for dropping opposition to the Glen Canyon Dam proposal.

    •  cmoreNC, very good. . . (6+ / 0-)

      your comments and that subject is, in part, taken up in the 2nd and 3rd installments, these diaries. Notice the picture used in the finale of this diary. . .Brower holding up that singular sign, SAVE GRAND CANYON. Dominy intended three dam sites inside the Grand, and as you mentioned, Tiger Wash was the first. As a former boatmen through there, we made sure our river rats (an endearing term, really) going down river with us saw those bore holes, and of course, what boatmen doesn't regale his or her charges with this story, as well as the John Wesley Powell saga, even the Brown-Stanton fiasco. Anyway, Bridge Canyon was indeed the second, and the third site has always been questionable. Also, the Birdseye expedition in 1922 target dozens of potential dam sites, a few inside the canyon, included, and one, believe it or not, just about where Glen Canyon's dam now stands, only it was closer to Lees Ferry. LaRue, that taciturn hydrologist in the group, came up with a lot of those sites. The Echo Park dam site, there at Dinosaur, was rousted, of course, but no one, not evenBrower figured the Bureau would move downstream and become a canyon slayer to the prized canyon gem of them all. Anyway, thank you, again, for your very welcomed remarks. By the way, Dominy did later change his mind and say the dams in the Grand would not be as high, and therefore not conspicuous and therefore not seen by the public. He was daft, of course, because he had the gall to go after a national park and this is where the world turned against him (and the bureau) and stood side-by-side with Brower and the Club. How wonderful!

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 03:45:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  can't wait to read the next installments (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GDbot, loretta, KenBee

    This series looks to be a fairly comprehensive document.
    Thank you for the time you put in to share your knowledge, and doing so really well, I might add. If you ever finish your own Glen Canyon tome, I'm certain that it will be a worthy read. You are a talented writer.

    •  so kind. . . (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wasatch, KenBee

      wasatch, your words. Two things (besides my grateful thanks for your comment). . .I have sat with this story for a long, long time. There is a much larger tome entitled "Beauty Lost," which is title bequeathed by George Steck, the late and great Grand Canyon author and writer. He called his 1959 last rafting excursion through the Glen by this title, and he gave me this rustic 8mm film many years ago to have copied into a video format, which I later had burned to a dvd. The book is in three parts, the first main part depicting his film (using his narrative to cobble the words together). Second, even though I have done most of my professional work in the Glen's downstream neighboring abode, I have covered so much of the larger physiographic template the canyon country is part of, namely the Colorado Plateau. Unequivocally, my favorite place on the planet is still Glen Canyon though, of course, it's the old canyon environs I miss and revere the most. I got to see and sample some of her Eden-like niches, and if you can take my word on it, there is nothing like the Glen on this planet. Absolutely nothing. That was all taken from us by Dominy, and I think the thrust of my writing about the Glen is a literary way of reviving interest in this almost forgotten world. Thank you for understanding just how important this much smaller piece is, the combine missives, two of which will follow in the next two weeks (and a bonus piece after that). Apparently, Glen Canyon touches you and so many others. Hence, the humbling surprise for me to read all of these fascinating comments.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 05:02:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hayduke Lives!!! (0+ / 0-)

    R.I.P. Edward Abbey.

    "Do you realize that fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous Communist plot we have ever had to face?" - General Jack D. Ripper

    by wilder5121 on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 05:28:40 PM PST

  •  Absolutely fabulous! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GDbot, wasatch

    You're writing about a place---southern Utah's canyon country---and an issue---wilderness---very close to my heart. I look forward to parts 2 and 3.

    Kudos, Rich.

    Resist much, obey little. ~~Edward Abbey, via Walt Whitman

    by willyr on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 05:33:00 PM PST

  •  It's obvious that any "lake" behind a dam on a (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GDbot, KenBee, kurt, wasatch

    silt-heavy river will eventually become a huge mud flat with the river crossing it to fall off the dam's crest. The science and predictability of this outcome was in place in the '20s. Like all human accomplishments, GCD was meant only to serve the profits, careers, and politics of those benefiting from it during the years it was built.
    When the BOR was asked what they were going to do about the eventually huge silt build-ups not only in Powell but Mead and other dammed lakes, the answer was "That'll be somebody else's problem, not ours." Meaning, kick the can down the road.

    Ash-sha'b yurid isqat an-nizzam!

    by fourthcornerman on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 05:33:01 PM PST

  •  Your wonderful post had me reaching for my (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GDbot, KenBee, willyr, wasatch

    battered copy of All My Rivers are Gone, as well as emailing a link to your piece to a river guide friend in Utah. The canyons and the rivers that birth them are scared to him.

    He's going to greatly appreciate your homage to the Lady Glen.

    Thank you so very much.

    "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." Hubert H. Humphrey

    by Onomastic on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 05:57:19 PM PST

    •  and so thanks to you, as well (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Onomastic, KenBee, wasatch

      Onomastic. It's getting almost a cliche for me to even say this, but I honestly did expect to see so many overt or covert Glen Canyon aficionados in the audience. Guess I was wonderfully surprised to find out otherwise. I used to run the Green, Colorado and Yampa rivers, and just being with the song of the rivers and that energy of the deep canyons was a kind of energy that made the work play, and of course, the exceptional people coming down-river for the run and the ride. Mostly, I'm a backpacker and honored to have been with so many clients and students over the years, doing that trail-tramping thing. That's sacred, too, you know. And, like you, I am going to pull out my copy of 'All My Rivers' and lull myself to sleep with some poignant nostalgia. Sometimes sadness just feels right, you know?

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 06:02:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, I do. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KenBee, wasatch

        How could it be otherwise?

        You sound much like our friend, R.  He had kept his hair long and in a ponytail for years. When the river captured his soul, and he decided that being with the river and the canyons was his life's calling, he cut off his ponytail and gave it to the river. His sacrifice, his homage, so humbly, gratefully given.

        Peace to you

        "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." Hubert H. Humphrey

        by Onomastic on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 06:13:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Your friend, R. . . (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Onomastic, wasatch

          and like him, I, too, wore the ponytail, tied neatly, because, well, isn't that what a boatmen is supposed to look like? HA! And to think, I mostly got to do what I wanted in this sojourn, and still do. I trust R still lives his freedom, possibly on the river, as well. Just think of Bert Loper, the so-called Grand Old Man of the Colorado River, who rowed right into his 80s before meeting his fate in one rapid too many. Highly recommend reading Brad Dimock's "The Very Hard Way," which is all about Loper and likely R has read that masterful work, as well. Anyway, reading the river is what it's all about for some folks, don't you think?

          Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

          by richholtzin on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 07:14:15 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Good morning, rich. :) (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            "Reading the river" is definitely what it is all about for R. He works for Canyon Voyages Adventure Co. in Moab,

            He loves "educating" folks on the geology of the canyons, the flora and fauna, all of it.

            But I think he loves the private trips he's been able to take down the "Grand" most of all.

            He's due back "home" here in Maine soon to visit family and friends. We'll feed him lobster and be regaled with stories about the rivers and the lands they have shaped.

            I'll ask him about "The Very Hard Way." I'm assuming he's read it, as I know he's read Abbey's works along with others.  He and the SO have had late night's talking about Abbey, the rivers and the canyons.

            Late this Spring, the SO will be heading out to Moab to stay with R for awhile. Canyon country has become the SO's heart home as well.

            Funny how that works. :)

            "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." Hubert H. Humphrey

            by Onomastic on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 08:08:10 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  your friend, R, (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Onomastic, wasatch

              Onomastic, sounds like someone I need to meet! Period. I will look up the site you mentioned, and in the meantime please put the lad in touch with me when he returns. Honestly, this KOS community, which, again, I am brand new to, both as a reader and diarist, is the best thing that other came down the proverbial pike. Astute people, erudite, and all who know what the hell they're talking/writing about. And now I am a member of the community. Here's hoping I can continue contributing worthwhile 'reads' on various thing. I am also happy my friend Joe, talked me into drafting something for the site, and so I dug out my Glen Canyon stuff, and rewrote these missives exclusively for this audience. Not sure if I will do as he asks, and one day submit the first part of "Beauty Lost," George Steck's rafting/hiking adventures in 1959 (here in the canyon), but maybe I can find a way to cut down on the verbosity and relate some of that story. There may even be a way for me to upload the dvd I made from his movie and post it on Youtube. Anyway, good chatting with you and so many others from the community. I had no idea I would find such Glen Canyon aficionados in the audience. Sine qua non, too. Thank you for the response (another one).

              Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

              by richholtzin on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 09:26:53 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  R is in town (0+ / 0-)

                He'll be coming over to the house later this afternoon. The SO has been reading your post and will be discussing it with him.

                I'll be sure to let him know that you'd like to be in touch with "the lad."  Think he's going to get a huge kick out of being referred to that way. :)

                I do hope the two of you can get together. It would be rather wonderful. :)

                Hope life is treating you and yours with all due gentleness.

                All my best


                "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." Hubert H. Humphrey

                by Onomastic on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 09:31:37 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  I was present for the drowning of Flaming Gorge (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    And I would like to thank your for this diary. We have lost more than can be calculated.

    Alpacas spit if you piss them off. So don't do that.

    by alpaca farmer on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 10:57:30 PM PST

    •  flaming gorge. . . (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wasatch, Onomastic

      and just another great setting, like Red Canyon, that went under given the rapacious development by the Bureau of Reclamation in those years. When that mob of engineers and workers tried to do the same to Echo Park, near Vernal, UT., the folks said "Hell no. . .Go!" as in get out of here. It was a pyrrhic victory, of course, because when Echo Park was 'saved,' Glen Canyon was made the sacrifice surrogate. Dominy, I'm not happy to say, was just a sly fox and commissioner who said (later) he was only doing his job. Thanks for posting the command, alpaca farmer. (Great critters, by the way. Got to work with them on some outings, and of course you're right: never piss one off. They hit what they aim at.)  

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 10:36:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for posting this diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I hope that it is read by all here, or at least by most.  The photos will give the uninitiated an idea of how spectacular this canyon was before people destroyed it. They should remember the legacy of Glen Canyon's drowning when they face environmental perils wherever they live. And maybe it will motivate them to visit Canyonlands or Capitol Reef or Paria and just enjoy the places that have not been spoiled.

    When I was doing trail maintenance in Hammond Canyon a few years ago, a ranger from nearby Monticello (who grew up near Glen Canyon) told us about the childhood hazards of playing outside as Glen Canyon filled.  As wildlife migrated out of the canyon, rattlesnakes began to show up in their yard.

    He also told us that MANY THOUSANDS of lead acid batteries were dumped overboard by boat owners.  Do you know anything about this (other than the fact that it is not surprising)?

    •  your posting. . . (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wasatch, Onomastic

      lavorare, is well received. That other pollution in the basin, like batteries, also comes from the concessionaire's contribution, where workers at the docks decided it was easier to toss the junk into the lake. Supposedly that practice has been curtailed, though it continues. Such still will be addressed in both upcoming diaries. It's just unthinkable what some humans can do for the sake of their own laziness and thoughtless ways. I also find the ranger's story told to you and others, about the rattlers forced out of the canyon, quite intriguing. Bear in mind thousands of critters never made it out alive. So, let's here it for the snakes, at least. Thanks, again, for your comments.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 10:32:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  TY - I was there 88-90 when the lake (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    was at its prime. Remember well the night we camped on north side and watched the parade of boats all lit up for Xmas. We were also aware of and saddened by the destruction of the beautiful "lady" we never got to see.

    I love George Takei for being aware and honest and sharing. And "the best damn pilot in the universe."

    by PHScott on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 02:46:32 AM PST

    •  on your note of memory... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wasatch, PHScott, Onomastic

      do you happen to have any photos of that encounter with the canyon lady. . .the boats all lit up for Xmas, PHScott? Send some, if you do. And thanks for the comment. Bear in mind whatever mankind does to nature it's never quite the last word. She has options and recourses in time, you see.

      Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

      by richholtzin on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 10:28:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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