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Glen Canyon (1997)

by Steven M. Hannon

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In the opening pages of his wildly popular novel, The Monkey Wrench Gang, Edward Abbey as much as promised that he would write a story about freeing Glen Canyon on the Colorado River. Since the publication of that novel in 1975, a unanimity of environmentalists, thousands of Colorado River rafters, ecologists, the Sierra Club, and even the US Park Service have called for the removal of Glen Canyon Dam to liberate 150 miles of Glen Canyon and restore the river as it flows through Grand Canyon National Park below the dam.

Now, imagine that an unlikely band of eco-terrorists, including physicists, a lawyer, a pro-environment industrialist and a ne'er-do-well American Indian, all fed up with Washington, decide to take matters into their own hands...

Cover text

This is a story about a place -- a very special place that was lost before the memory of most of us; Glen Canyon on the Colorado River, It has been described, in memoriam, as The Place No One Knew, and many are those now alive who could have seen it but did not, whether by conscious choice, inattention, or ignorance. it is for them, and for those born too late, that this tale is written.

Three old friends have long shared a memory of their float trip trough Glen Canyon. They want nothing more than to see the free flowing river restored, and they are willing to risk their comfortable and secure lives to do so. But to bring back the beautiful canyon and its 186 miles of the Colorado River they must deal with the colossal dam that has impounded Powell Reservoir since 1963. Somehow the river will have to be diverted around the ten million tons of concrete -- and the twenty-seven million acre feet of water behind the dam will have o be sent on its way back to the Pacific Ocean -- slowly. They find a way to do it, but things don't go as planned.

In 1983, with Powell Reservoir nearly full, late spring rains began to fall throughout most of the 108,000 square miles in the upper Colorado River basin. The rains continued into June when the weather turned unusually warm, quickly releasing the heavy snowpack in the mountain ranges ringing the basin. The runoff could not be contained in the reservoir and the resulting flood badly damaged the spillways at Glen Canyon Dam. The damage was repaired, but questions remain whether Nature may, once again, seriously challenge the huge obstruction in Her river canyon.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be used to support the designation of the proposed 5.7-million-acre Redrock Wilderness in southern Utah. Creation of the wilderness will ensure that the Glen Canyon tragedy will never be repeated in this last unspoiled are of the contiguous United States.


Review in the Denver Post.
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