Posts Tagged ‘Lake Mead’

Glen Canyon Book Review: Resurrection By Annette McGivney With James Kay

September 25th, 2013

Book Review on the Biggest Conservation Story of All Time and New Solutions… Resurrection: Glen Canyon and a New Vision for the American West by Annette McGivney with Photographs by James Kay and Foreword by Bill McKibben (Braided River, 2009)

How We Lost Glen Canyon

Resurrection Book Cover, Photograph copyright 2009 James Kay.

Resurrection Book Cover, Lake Powell at Hite Marina, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah, Photograph copyright 2007 James Kay.

In the mid 1950s, David Brower, Executive Director of the Sierra Club, led a coalition of conservation groups in an effort to permanently banish industrial development from national park lands. The primary battle defending the sanctity of the national park system was over two dams proposed inside Dinosaur National Monument. The proposed dams in Dinosaur would have flooded 96 out of 104 river miles in the monument on the Yampa and Green Rivers.

David Brower in Congressional testimony used 9th Grade math to prove that if Glen Canyon Dam were higher, it could hold back and store more water than both proposed dams in Dinosaur. Congress removed the two dams in Dinosaur National Monument from the Colorado River Compact and passed the bill approving the construction of Glen Canyon Dam. Having never seen Glen Canyon, David Brower and many others did not know the extent or nature of the sacrifice made to protect the national park system. Looking back, especially after he floated through Glen Canyon on the Colorado River for the first time in 1958, David Brower mused that he and the coalition might have pushed on and possibly succeeded in saving Glen Canyon. (For more on David Brower see the blog post, “David Brower: Photographer and Environmentalist 1.”

Ironically, before World War II, Glen Canyon had been part of a proposed national park that would have encompassed more than two million acres spread across much of Southeastern Utah including most of what are now Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Capitol Reef National Park and all of Glen Canyon. The attack on Pearl Harbor interrupted these discussions and turned the attention of Congress to preparations for war.

Drought, Distortions, Glen Canyon Dam And A New Dream Of The West

The Bureau of Reclamation closed the gates on Glen Canyon Dam in 1964, but “Lake” Powell did not reach full capacity until 1980. The reservoir water level ebbed and flowed until the last time it was full in 1996, then drew down over 100 feet by 2003 and has remained nearly half empty or more than half empty ever since. It turns out that the Colorado River flow calculations that justified the building of Glen Canyon Dam in the first place were exaggerated, as were the rainfall estimates on which expansion and development interests based the entire settlement of the Western US plains and Southwestern desert. Tree ring studies and other climate measures show that the 20th Century was one of the wettest ever in the Western US. Today’s much lower rainfall and river flow rates are more characteristic of the region, though big dam proponents are officially calling the present conditions a drought. Nonetheless, scientists project that “Lake” Powell may never be full again. Odds are that both “Lake” Mead and “Lake” Powell will both remain as they are now, roughly half full or less for the foreseeable future.

Annette McGivney, in Resurrection: Glen Canyon and a New Vision for the American West, tells the story of the loss of Glen Canyon, but more importantly the rebirth of life in the side canyons since the reservoir has subsided. Glen Canyon today is the poster child for watershed recovery for both Glen and Grand Canyon, as well as for the resilience of nature in general. McGivney’s easy-flowing text accompanies the photography of James Kay, who for more than three decades has photographed the Colorado Plateau, the seismically uplifted high desert that the Colorado River cuts through in Utah and Arizona. James Kay knows this land and these canyons. His sensitive, artistic eye finds for us the devastation that was, and the haunting, unparalleled paradise that is Glen Canyon.

McGivney and Kay explored many of the tributary canyons together for this project, either by boat, by kayak, but most often on foot, backpacking from the reservoir up canyon; or from the rims of the sandstone tablelands above, down into narrow, winding passages and rock alcoves. These slot canyons, often hundreds of feet tall and in places only a few feet wide, are already verdant with newly rooted cottonwoods, willows, and grasses, as well as teaming with wildlife just as they had been for centuries before everything drowned under the full reservoir.

Annette McGivney quotes Richard Ingebretsen, co-founder with David Brower of Glen Canyon Institute, who asked, “Why keep two reservoirs half empty?” Glen Canyon Institute, founded for the ultimate purpose of reclaiming Glen Canyon and turning it into a national park, is working on a current campaign called, “Fill Mead First.” The idea is to keep “Lake” Mead full because it supplies many cities of the Southwest with water and generates their electricity. If “Lake” Powell were then drawn down, Glen Canyon could be restored and even made into a national park. Many who saw Glen Canyon before the reservoir say that it rivaled the Grand Canyon in beauty.

Canyon Photography On Par With The Best Ever

Kayaker on Lake Powell in Reflection Canyon, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah, copyright 2006 James Kay.

Kayaker on Lake Powell in Reflection Canyon, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah, copyright 2006 James Kay.

James Kay’s photographs in Resurrection certainly provide the proof of this claim to canyon beauty. Traveling by Kayak, powerboat and most often on foot, Kay has shown us as never before, the side canyons and back alcoves of Glen Canyon reborn. His style is both effectively documentary, yet artistically strong. Kay’s experience in the canyons of the Southwest has given him not just an eye for form; he has an eye for gracefully capturing the forms of canyons. His understanding of natural light and how to use it to best portray the curves, edges, near and far, contrasts, shadows and indirect illumination of layers on layers of weather-sculpted sandstone.

Some of Kay’s compositions are simple. For example, one photograph in Resurrection depicts a massive wall of rock that juts out into “Lake” Powell like the prow of a ship. The vantage point of the image is from a boat close to water level. At the bottom of the wall that is about 200 feet tall, we see a small boat dwarfed by the immensity of stone above. The photograph is a work of beauty, while at the same time it accomplishes the practical task of dramatizing just how far the reservoir has receded from the high water line marked by a gray-tan mud stain, or “bathtub ring,” as people call it. The top half of the cliff is the beautiful red-brown of native rock, while the bottom half of the cliff is coated with ugly mud stain.

Other images give us the haunting, far away longing of luminous reflections or newly sprouted grasses, shrubs, cottonwoods and other lush greenery. Some photographs are purposely ugly, some are otherworldly and nearly abstract, while still others incorporate hikers in soaring walled narrows or show us intimate rushing water. If you love the desert and canyons, this is a book and a place different. Yet despite how unusual this place is, those who see it as nothing more than a holding tank, a cash register or a recreation area for motorized tourism, have seemingly never stopped to see it the way James Kay shares it.

The Desert, Progress, Jobs, Money And Other Myths

Despite US Bureau of Reclamation and pro-development rhetoric, the only two justifiable reasons Glen Canyon Dam was ever necessary, and remotely remains necessary, were the Politics surrounding the agreement between the seven Western states that share the water; and the Income from recreation on “Lake” Powell. The viability of Hydropower generation has nearly run out with low water levels often not providing enough gravity water drop to turn the turbines at sufficient speed. Besides, the 1992 Grand Canyon Protection Act no longer allows the fluctuation of water levels caused by increased dam releases during peak power usage.

Politically in relation to water use, the three Upper Colorado River Basin states: Utah, Colorado and Wyoming, for good reason mistrust the four lower basin states: California, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. The lower basin states have all along taken more than their share of Colorado River water. Glen Canyon Dam provides a physical obstruction by which the upper states can regulate the flow to the lower states and keep them from taking more than their allotment, if and when the upper states catch up with the lower states in their land development and thirst for water.

Even though the desert does not inherently provide the water to support the building of industry and commercial buildings, suburbs, golf courses, and abundant water features, the seven Western states of the Colorado River system have been in a race to develop as fast as they can to be sure they obtain as much Colorado River water as possible in relation to the neighboring states. John Wesley Powell, whom the reservoir was named after, warned against developing the West beyond its water capacity. He recommended a number of water saving approaches that have been implemented by a few wise communities, but ignored by most.

Indeed, McGivney reminds us that the cities of the desert tend to flaunt the image of the manufactured oasis. The Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau in 2005 adopted the slogan, “The Desert is a Myth.” A July hike in any direction beyond the edge of a Phoenix suburb like Anthem, for instance, and it becomes readily apparent that the desert is real and it is the lush golf courses that perhaps are already, or soon will be a mirage. Land development in the West has achieved similar temporary high profits and blindness to long-term consequences as recent Wall Street derivative speculation and the banking system near meltdown.

Nonetheless, it is less the cities that would run dry without “Lake” Powell than the farming of water-intensive crops like alfalfa, hay and cotton, grown not to supply market demand, but to take advantage of government subsidies and tax breaks. Dams are portrayed as symbolizing progress and economic growth, but special interests are the primary benefactors. In Utah, for example, mining, ranching and industrial agriculture represent less than 3% of the economy, but they use 85% of Utah’s water. Even though industrial agriculture comprises a decreasing portion of the Western economy, the industry is one of the largest contributors to political campaigns. Thus, even though dam projects, expanded water pipelines and other water infrastructure will not sustain society long-term, these outdated public works continue to garner support of those in political power.

A Dying Motor Tourism Industry And The Future

Cathedral In The Desert, Glen Canyon, Utah, copyright 1964 Philip Hyde. Named one of the top 100 photographs of the 20th Century.

Cathedral In The Desert, Glen Canyon, Utah, copyright 1964 Philip Hyde. Named one of the top 100 photographs of the 20th Century. James Kay used this photograph side-by-side with his own like this in the book Resurrection too.

Cathedral in the Desert, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, copyright 2005 James Kay. Water level of Lake Powell near the lowest point.

Cathedral in the Desert, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, copyright 2005 James Kay. Water level of Lake Powell near the lowest point, with the Cathedral almost fully recovered as only a few feet of water were left in the bottom.

The motorized brand of tourism that thrived on “Lake” Powell in the 1980s and 1990s, has generated significant income for concessionaires and boat operators, who also provide proportionally large support to politicians and boost the local economy. In 1992, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area hosted a record 3.5 million visitors, nearly as many at this peak as visited the Grand Canyon. Yet today with the shrinkage of the “lake” area, the closure of two out of five of the marinas and high gasoline prices area hotel stays and other tourism has dropped by 40 percent. Nearby national parks such as the Grand Canyon and Zion each increased visitation in the last decade. Indeed, the economy is playing a major role in the dying of motorized tourism nearly everywhere. Less disposable income, especially among the upper-middle class and upper class has led to less motorized lake recreation. In the past many high earning tourists have spent discretionary money on Jet Skis, Houseboat shares and other expensive water toys, but in the last 10 years public lands hiking and camping has grown, while motor boating has decreased significantly. Local jobs in Page, Arizona and elsewhere around “Lake” Powell have depended almost entirely on motor tourism. Most local people, including the Native Americans in the area, want to prolong a dying industry to maintain their livelihoods. While denying that their way of life is dying, they are likely missing the opportunities and shift in perspective that could bring them a far more sustainable, Earth-friendly and perhaps most importantly, a more permanent security.

McGivney’s “Step-by-step guide to saving Glen Canyon and then, perhaps the world” offers the kind of forward thinking solutions that thought leaders have begun to discuss in recent years. While these innovative resolutions will become requirements, rather than options in the near future, as a civilization we have a big leap to negotiate before we are ready to leave our self-serving short-term approaches behind and move into a mindset that is more conducive to sustaining our society and all life on Earth. This is perhaps the text’s only flaw, or perhaps it is more of a challenge: the leap from where our watershed management and environmental stewardship are now to where they need to be to sustain life in the Southwest and on Earth long range may be too big. Are we up to the task? Perhaps an even better question is: can we learn to cooperate with, listen to, find new ways to meet the needs of and educate those who have a vested interest in business as it has been for far too long?

For more on Glen Canyon and Philip Hyde’s photography of the lost paradise see the blog posts, “Glen Canyon Portfolio 1,” or “Glen Canyon Lament By Philip Hyde 1.”

Glen Canyon Institute Collaboration

December 5th, 2012

Philip Hyde Photography And Glen Canyon Institute Will Announce Collaborative Projects In 2013

(See the new Philip Hyde Gallery on the Glen Canyon Institute website home page.)

Cathedral In The Desert, Clear Creek Canyon, Glen Canyon, copyright 1964 by Philip Hyde. Made after the gates of Glen Canyon Dam were already closed and Lake Powell was filling. Named by American Photo Magazine one of the top 100 photographs of the 20th Century along with Flag Raising Over Iwo Jima, The Moonshot, VJ Day Sailor’s Kiss and others.

(See the photograph here large: “Cathedral In The Desert.”)

Philip Hyde Photography and Glen Canyon Institute staff are brainstorming, looking into and developing a number of projects to be announced in 2013. Potential projects include David Leland Hyde’s participation as a speaker in Glen Canyon Institute’s Roadshow when it travels to California in 2013, a new Cathedral In The Desert Poster, fundraising auctions, print sales, collaborative marketing and publicity and a number of other potential win-win adventures.

Recently Philip Hyde Photography granted to Glen Canyon Institute an internet licensing use for 29 of Philip Hyde’s photographs of Glen Canyon before Glen Canyon Dam and “Lake” Powell. Some of these photographs are not displayed anywhere else in the world, not even on the Philip Hyde Photography website. Glen Canyon Institute organized the Philip Hyde Glen Canyon photographs into a featured image gallery and displayed a link to this Philip Hyde photo gallery prominently on the Glen Canyon Institute home page. Glen Canyon Institute has gathered thousands of photographs on its website of Glen Canyon before it disappeared under “Lake” Powell and after it re-emerged in the last 10 years, including photographs by James Kay from his film and book Resurrection, which also contains a reproduction of Cathedral In The Desert next to James Kay’s contemporary photograph from the same ledge showing the newly emerged canyon oasis with it’s 60 foot high and one foot wide waterfall.

“The board was very impressed with your dad’s photo’s on our website – definitely some of the best we have…” –Eric Balkin, Programs Director, Glen Canyon Institute.

Richard Ingebretson of Salt Lake City founded Glen Canyon Institute with the help of environmentalist David Brower in 1996. For more on David Brower see the blog post, “David Brower: Photographer And Environmentalists 1.” The mission of Glen Canyon Institute is to restore Glen Canyon and the Colorado River. Currently focus is on the Fill Lake Mead First campaign. Both “Lake” Powell and “Lake” Mead have operated at less than half full capacity for over a decade. If “Lake” Powell were operated as a backup and remained for the most part empty, while “Lake” Mead were filled as full as possible, both Powell and Mead reservoirs would operate more efficiently, evaporate less water and more readily supply power and water to residents of the region. The Glen Canyon Institute Website explains some of the challenges:

The Colorado River Compact was based on flawed projections that seriously overestimated actual future river flow and seriously underestimated future water demand. As a result, growing demand, relentless drought, and climate change are creating a water deficit of almost 1 million acre-feet a year in the Colorado River system. Both Lake Powell and Lake Mead reservoirs are half empty, and scientists predict that they will probably never fill again. The water supply of more than 22 million people in the three Lower Basin states is in jeopardy. The region is also facing an environmental crisis. The ecological health of the Southwest is tied to the fate of the Colorado River. A century ago, the Colorado was one of the world’s wildest rivers. Its extraordinary variations in water flow, temperature, and sedimentation created a unique ecosystem that was once home to 16 endemic fish species — the largest percentage of any river system in North America. The construction of more than a dozen dams during the last century has critically damaged the integrity of the Colorado River. Hundreds of miles of canyon and countless archaeological sites have been flooded, and dozens of wildlife species have been endangered. Glen Canyon Dam is one of the largest contributors to these problems…

The Colorado River ecosystem is in fragile condition and greatly altered throughout the Grand Canyon due to the dams upstream, as is the remainder of the Colorado River drainage downstream. One of the West’s most mighty rivers no longer reaches its own delta at the Sea of Cortez or Gulf of California between Baja California, Mexico and Mainland Mexico.

From the founding of Glen Canyon Institute, Philip Hyde supported the non-profit organization with his photographs. Glen Canyon Institute is largely responsible for the wide distribution of the iconic Philip Hyde photograph of Cathedral In The Desert that since its making in 1964 has become a symbol of the loss of Glen Canyon.

Glen Canyon Institute staff made Cathedral In The Desert into a popular poster that helped raise operating funds for its campaigns from 1996 on. We hope to make a new poster, possibly in conjunction with American Photo Magazine, which named Cathedral In The Desert one of the top 100 photographs of the 20th Century in it’s December 1999 issue on recommendation by David Brower, just as other prominent citizens and celebrities chose the other 99 of the top 100 photographs of the Century.

For more about how reservoirs are being drained, rivers reclaimed and dams removed in a global grassroots movement to restore the arteries of life on Earth, see the blog post, “A River Will Run Through It.” For more background on the devastation and damage to wilderness by dams see the blog post, “Glen Canyon Lament By Philip Hyde 1.” For more on the photography of Glen Canyon by Philip Hyde see the blog posts, “Glen Canyon Portfolio 1,” “Glen Canyon Portfolio 2” and “Glen Canyon Portfolio 3.”

New Release: Formations From Bryce Point, Bryce Canyon National Park

April 26th, 2011

The Making Of The Widely Published And Collected Photograph In Philip Hyde’s Own Words

New Release: Formations From Bryce Point, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, 1963

Landscape Photography Blogger Introductory Note:

Formations From Bryce Point, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, copyright 1963 by Philip Hyde. Widely exhibited and published including in “Drylands: The Deserts Of North America” and related major museum exhibitions. In permanent museum collections.

(See the photograph full screen Click Here.)

As part of his first explorations of the American Southwest in 1951 and 1955, Philip Hyde documented Dinosaur National Monument on the first photography assignment for an environmental cause. (See the series of blog posts that begin with, “The Battle Over Dinosaur: Birth Of Modern Environmentalism 1“)

Ardis and Philip Hyde returned to the Southwest in the Fall of 1963 and visited Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Arches National Monument, now also a national park, Canyonlands, Natural Bridges, Monument Valley, Grand Canyon National Park, the Hopi Villages, Canyon de Chelly, Petrified Forest National Monument, Walnut Canyon, Oak Creek Canyon, “Lake” Mead National Recreation Area and Glen Canyon Dam. Philip Hyde on this trip planned to build his stock photography files, gather images for several upcoming conservation projects as well as working on an assignment from the National Park Service photographing several of the national park’s facilities and buildings’ architecture. After a stop in Zion National Park, the Hydes moved on to Bryce Canyon National Park…

Excerpted From Philip Hyde’s 1963 travel log:

By Philip Hyde

September 24, 1963: We decided to go on to Bryce Canyon and come back to Zion National Park later—after Canyonlands, or on our way home before “Lake” Mead. We broke camp and headed for Bryce Canyon. On the way out of Zion, I spent an hour or so working on the East side formations after the tunnel—Checkerboard Mesa and Navajo Formation pavements. Then we went on out of Zion and north. We stopped about 11 am at Edith Hamblin’s place on the north end of Mt. Carmel. Edith Hamblin is the widow of painter Maynard Dixon. We also stopped in to see Dick McGraw at his studio and guest house with a view toward the White Cliffs, then drove on to Bryce Canyon, arriving about 3 pm.

At Bryce Canyon we went to the visitor’s center to meet with the Park Engineer and Naturalist. Then we headed on out to the first overlook road. In the fairyland section the light was gorgeous. I took my 4X5 view camera and walked down the trail half a mile or so into the canyon. I made six color transparencies and two black and white negatives. Then we drove back to the Visitor’s Center in later light which was also very good. Called it a day and headed to the campground, which was rather exposed with little gravel platforms for camp sites. The Park Ranger said that the low last night was down to 29 degrees Fahrenheit, so I put antifreeze into the radiator that I bought in Hatch, Utah.

September 25: In the morning I went up to the Visitor’s Center to shoot interiors for the National Park Service. Then we went first to Sunset Point and down the Navajo Loop Trail to the canyon bottom where I made several exposures. We drove out along the loop road to

Various viewpoints and eventually to Rainbow Point, then back along the rim. Back at Sunset Point I caught the late light and walked down the Queen’s Garden Trail just at Sunset when the light was magnificent. I photographed until the light failed. When we returned to the car, we ran into Adele and John Hampton of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, whom we had met in Zion National Park. We had dinner with them and talked until about 9 pm—late for us.

September 26: We were up before dawn, about 5:30 am, to catch the sunrise light on the Queen’s Garden Trail. Hiked down into Queen’s Garden working all the way as the light was spectacular. Photographed in the Queen’s Garden until about 9 am, then back up to the car, showered, packed up and set out for Capitol Reef about 10:30 am. Drove down into the Paria Valley—now called Bryce Valley—around Tropic, Utah. Tropic is just awakening from its sleepy, remote, Mormon character to tourist awareness. However, only the main “street” has changed adding a drive-in and frosty store. The road is now paved all the way to Escalante, Utah—not just paved, but realigned to “modern” engineering high standards—70 mph in most places. It circles around the Table Cliffs of the Aquarius Plateau and crosses several layered ridges and streaks across some broad open plateau tops to reach Escalante. Several roads beckoned. One that looked interesting was the one to Hole In The Rock, which we will take before we finish this project—maybe on this trip or perhaps next Spring. About eight miles East of Escalante the dirt started and except for a stretch on top of a ridge several miles long near Boulder, Utah, it was much like it was five or six years ago, though the surface this time was in better shape and some of the notable grades have been eliminated.

Landscape Photography Blogger Postscript

Philip Hyde made four dye transfer prints of “Formations From Bryce Point, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, 1963″ in the early 1970s and two more in 1987 when Drylands: The Deserts Of North America came out. See the blog post, “The Legend of Dye Transfer Printing, Interrupted 1” for more about dye transfer printing and “Philip Hyde At Home In The Wilds 1” for an interview in which Philip Hyde talks about his approach to dye transfer printing. Now for the first time since Kodak discontinued the manufacture of dye transfer printing materials in the early 1990s, “Formations From Bryce Point, Bryce Canyon National Park” is available as a color fine art print in archival digital print form. Also for a limited time “Formations From Bryce Point” is available at introductory New Release Pricing. For more about Philip Hyde’s connection to the Southwest see the blog post, “Earth Day Celebration Of Ardis And Philip Hyde And Canyonlands.”

Glen Canyon Lament By Philip Hyde 2

November 19th, 2010
Landscape Photography Blogger’s 100th Blog Post started a short three part series on Glen Canyon by Philip Hyde…

A Lament for Glen Canyon by Philip Hyde, Part 2

Continued from Blog Post 100, “Glen Canyon Lament by Philip Hyde 1.”

Originally published in The Living Wilderness Magazine September 1980

From The Living Wilderness: Contributing editor Philip Hyde’s photography of the Escalante region was featured in “Slickrock,” of which he and Edward Abbey wrote the text.

Great Overhang, Moqui Canyon, Glen Canyon, Utah, 1964 by Philip Hyde. Photographed after the gates of Glen Canyon Dam were already closed and "Lake" Powell began its 17 year journey toward filling.

(See the photograph full screen Click Here.)

During the 17 years of painfully slow filling of the reservoir, the “robbing Peter to pay Paul” operation  of Glen Canyon and Hoover Dams has left some mementoes: the notices to Hoover Dam power customers to get their power elsewhere; the lawsuits of Lake Mead marina operators when they found their boat-launching ramps not just high and dry but nearly out of sight of water. To make a power dam pay for itself, as both Hoover and Glen were intended to do, requires running water through the turbines. Whenever this is done it draws down the reservoir. During the years that the bureau was trying to fill Glen’s reservoir, it had to borrow water that would have filled Lake Mead. What did this do to the revenues which were the sole financial justification for building both dams? What did it do to the revenue surplus over cost-payback that was supposed to furnish the funds to build the irrigation works planned in association with Glen Canyon Dam as part of the Upper Colorado River Storage Project?

Whatever the answers to such economic questions, the sacrifice of another kind of value is plain enough. Back in the 1930s National Park Service officials were sufficiently impressed with both Glen and Escalante Canyons to urge making them a national park. A 1935 proposal would have created one of 6,000 square miles. But the dam-building fever-the late Elmer Davis once called it “big dam foolishness”—which seized the nation in the 30s and 40s and 50s led to legislation to build a number of dams on the Colorado and its tributaries, including Glen Canyon. Two of them—Echo Park and Split Mountain, proposed for the Green River within Dinosaur National Monument—raised the specter of opening national parks to exploitation and thus aroused the opposition of every major conservation organization in the nation. In those days conservation organizations counted nowhere near the members, funds or public support they do now. Even so, the threat was enough to stop the bill until the two Dinosaur dams were deleted. It was also enough to win protective language for Rainbow Bridge National Monument, on a Glen Canyon tributary, though Lake Powell now laps at the base of this greatest of all natural bridges. But the Upper Colorado River Storage Project, finally approved by Congress in 1956, consigned the magnificence of Glen Canyon to a watery death.

With hindsight, it must seem an unequal compromise that sacrificed Glen Canyon. I consider the loss of Glen Canyon tragic. But I am certain that had Dinosaur been invaded, the precedent would have been enough to make possible the building of dams then on the drawing boards in at least eight national park system areas, including Grand Canyon. As it turned out, the loss of Glen Canyon became a rallying point a few years later when the dam builders actually reached for Grand Canyon. So far, dam proponents have been unable to overcome the worldwide opposition to their scheme. (But old dam proposals don’t die. They don’t even fade away like old soldiers, but stick around to resurface when it is believed that the opposition has relaxed its vigilance.)

Coyote Gulch and the upper Escalante tributaries are important because they constitute the last major remnant of the Glen Canyon system that still has the wild remoteness so essential to the feeling of wilderness. Escalante Canyon, carved into the same sandstone formation of the Jurassic Period as Glen Canyon, has many of the same qualities; the water-sculptured rock, the high, sheer walls decorated with paintbrush-like strokes of blue-black desert varnish; alcoves, stream meanders, natural bridges and arches, and the beautiful riparian plant growth that at once harmonizes and contrasts with the bare stone. Perhaps most impressive of all its qualities is the water—the small streams, springs and seeps so characteristic of the water-bearing Navajo sandstone. In another, wetter country these might be insignificant. But in this arid land of stone and sand, one has only to climb to the rim and walk beyond the reach of these trickles in the desert to appreciate their miraculous quality.

As they were in the original main artery, Glen Canyon, the Escalante’s scenic climaxes are at or close to the stream junctions. Many of the tributaries form incised meanders, a circumstance that gives rise to a whole series of wonders: fluting of the walls, close-linked bends some-times in cliffs hundreds of feet sheer, grottoes, great overhangs, alcoves. Where the meanders leave long, narrow peninsulas of rock, these may be cut through by later stream erosion to form natural bridges, or left above the stream long enough for other forms of erosion to take out the rock at the base, leaving arches.

As the Escalante River winds down and out of the high plateau, flowing in a generally southeasterly direction toward the Colorado, it cuts through an undulating stone basin bound on the southwest by the straight cliffs of the Kaiparowits Plateau and on the northeast by the Henry Mountains. The Escalante and the Henry Mountains were named by John Wesley Powell in 1868—the last named major river and mountain range in the coterminous United States.

The water of Lake Powell, laboriously rising for the last 17 years, has at last claimed many of the most beautiful tributaries of the Escalante—all of those below Coyote Gulch. Now it washes into Coyote, one of the grandest scenic climaxes of the Escalante basin. Was the ruining of the mouth of Coyote Gulch necessary?

Continued in the blog post, “Glen Canyon Lament By Philip Hyde 3.”

To read more about and view Philip Hyde’s landscape photography of Glen Canyon see the blog post, “Glen Canyon Portfolio.”