Damnation of a Canyon
The Damnation of a Canyon
By Edward Abbey
Not many people know of the used-to-be 150-mile excursion that the Glen Canyon had to offer. Not many people know how to sail a raft down a river for a week. Not many people know how to interact with nature and the animals that come with it. We seem to come from a world that is dependent on time and consumed in money. Edward Abbey is what you would call an extreme environmentalist. He talks about how it was an environmental disaster to place a dam in which to create Lake Powell, a reservoir formed on the border of Utah and Arizona. He is one of the few that have actually seen the way Glen Canyon was before they changed it into a reservoir. Today, that lake is used by over a million people, and is one of the biggest recreation hot spots in the western United States.
First of all, Edward Abbey admits to being a certain bias and that he is a, butterfly chaser, googley eyed bleeding heart and wild conservative. So, in other words he is intending this article to be read by environmental activist who will support his opinion and the action that he is trying to take. Edward Abbey worked as a seasonal park ranger for Glen Canyon National Recreation Area back in 1967, so of course he would be against any environmental action taken to change the canyon. He stated that before the damnation of the canyon that there were streams, waterfalls, plunge pools, and plenty of wildlife. Now you can only find that on a small scale and that these things have been lost, pushed out, drowned, or buried under mud.
Abbey highlighted quite a few points; one of them that interested me the most was his description, of the difference between the present reservoir, and the original Glen Canyon. He stated that it was the difference between life and death. Glen Canyon was alive. Lake Powell is a graveyard. He really seems to be going out on a limb in saying this extreme of a statement. I think that he is wrong in saying that. I feel that he is only looking at one side of the story. I would say the opposite, but for a rhetorical analysis proposes only, I will come from his point of view in researching that he came to that conclusion under the assumption that the wildlife and nature was more alive then the life outside of the dam. Lake Powell is a graveyard in such that there is nothing natural about it. The rocks are pretty and the water is blue. Abbey talks of a term called bathtub ring, it is left on the canyon walls, after each drawdown of the water level. The park rangers in Glen Canyon consider it to be not of great importance, and that is one of the only illusions that you look at upon a natural lake. To some people seeing that effect is more then they have seen or may ever see in their life when it comes to nature. People come from places where there isnt a lot of wildlife around them. The closest they get seeing that might just be from a book or a video they saw in school. So what if they dump a ton of striped bass and rainbow trout into the lake every year. One of those fishes could be the first one ever caught by a boy who is having a weekend with his father. The symbol of that fish and what it represents to the bonding between two people may be a lot more then what I think Abbey has analysed.
I think Abbey brought up a very controversial/argumentative point in his article. He stated that if Rainbow Bridge is worth seeing at all, then by God it should be easily, readily, immediately available to everybody with the money to buy a big power boat. Before the Dam was put up to create Lake Powell, Rainbow Bridge was only accessible by walking six miles through the thickets of cottonwood trees, semi-tropical hanging orchids, and ivy, with swarms of insects and birdlife to get there.