I was in 5th grade when I first heard about the controversy surrounding the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell. My teacher was an old scraggly man who appearance wise reminded me of Mr. Burns from the Simpsons.
He mentioned how people complained about building the dam and hiding so many spectacular ruins, and natural features. He also mentioned the other side of the argument. That nobody really went to that area, until there was a lake there. The beauty that wasn’t hidden was experienced by far more people than the stuff that was hidden, before it was hidden.
Many people assume that I am a big conservationist and major tree hugger, who is one paycheck away from buying a Nissan Leaf, and dressing up like Pan on a regular basis. Even though I appreciate the outdoors, I think most conservationists get really carried away.
The part of the Colorado river that was blocked and flooded when the dam was built is one of the most remote areas in the continental US. To experience the oasis like areas that would be uncovered by building the dam actually would require major effort, and experience. The flooded area is a maze of small canyons, the common person is most likely to get lost. The only people who would see these wonders are the hardcore outdoorsy people who don’t mind backpacking for several days. I fit into this category so I would be one of the people who benefit the most from the deconstruction of the dam. However, the majority of the people wouldn’t be able to experience them.
The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is on public land and should be to the benefit of all. Currently almost 3 million people visit the Glen Canyon Area every year. Most of these are boaters and water recreationalists. Once you eliminate the damn you eliminate a good portion of those visitors. If this is public land, what justification is there in eliminating the recreational opportunities for the many, because of the desires of the few.
What impact will eliminating the dam have on several of the smaller surrounding communities?
I am pretty convinced the only reason Hanksville exists is because of the traffic heading to Lake Powell. There are other small communities spread around the southern part of the state who flourish because of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. It doesn’t make sense to take away their livelihood so that a few people like me can experience all of the hidden gems.
Can you say drought?
This may be news to most people, but this is a desert environment, and we are in a drought. If you think the water needs are bad now, wait until we stop storing water. That big lake that hosts Meetup houseboat orgies every year, also provides power and water. Most of the water flows to places like Arizona, Nevada, and California. If they don’t get the water from there, they will get it from somewhere else, and most likely the other states in the area are going to have to give it up. People need the water and eliminating a water storage facility is pretty short sighted.
The Clean Up Effort Would Be Nasty and Expensive.
The dam was completed in 1966. For the past 50 years the dam has held back the waters of Lake Powell, a major recreation destination for 2 million people per year. For the past 50 years every piece of trash, sewage, garbage and dead hooker that has been thrown into the Green River or Colorado river, now sits at the bottom of Lake Powell. That doesn’t even take into consideration sunk boats, and lost camping gear that just ended up there. Who do they propose to clean all that up? How do they propose to pay for it? That would take a couple decades to clean up and the area will never reach its original beauty.
Let’s break it down into the pros and cons of eliminating the dam.
Small cities will disappear or collapse.
Recreation enthusiasts will be forced to go other places, creating more of an environmental catastrophe and congestion other places.
Drunk middle age people, desperate to re-live their high school years will have to find a new place to have their orgies.
DNA tests for dead hookers.
Backpacking mini-fridges out.
Even less water will be available.
The water will most likely be used by Mexico anyway.
I will get to see some hardcore shit that hasn’t been seen for 50 years.
If they were considering building the dam now, it might be another story. However, despite what all the Nissan Leaf and Prius owners believe getting rid of the dam isn’t going to do a damn thing.