Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Godzilla Problem

We reached a pause-point in our exploration of the political history of the Canyon's National Park with the 1919 legislative enactment. There is much more to come: The 1920's effort to improve the boundaries, especially on the Kaibab; the second Monument and its diminishment in the 1930's; scattered ideas about further changes in the 1950's; the new concepts for a Park in the 1960's and the third Monument, in Marble Canyon; the 1970's legislative Enlargement (sic) of Park and Havasupai Reservation, followed by mandated studies of Park-appropriateness; Kanab Creek Wilderness, 1984; the fourth Monument, Grand Canyon - Parashant at the close of the XXth century.

When we return to these stories, much will reinforce a basic theme of congressional action on the Park: protection and expansion of commercial interests. Grazing and mining figured large in the Hayden management of the first GCNP legislation. They will continue to do so. But, they scurry about in in the shade cast by the Godzilla of all interests, the desire to construct hydropower works to utilize all of the energy potential of the water that falls over 2000 feet through the Grand Canyon. Well, falls. Not quite: digs, abrades, polishes, bashes, transports; there are lots of things the river did up until we began over a century ago to, as the cigar-chomping big-bellied fellas say, tame it. 

There are a number of histories concerned with the Colorado's water politics, river exploitation, and dam-building and its aftermath. I am not positive I have much of my own to add, at least until we get to the 1962-8 period of the massive effort -- and its thwarting-- to get Grand Canyon dams authorized. I do not want to repeat what is available elsewhere, but I do want to chew over the Canyon's experience of the story, if only for my own edification of just what those guys thought they were doing. Again, I spent a lot of time in the archives, particularly of the Bureau of Reclamation, always the prime movers for dams, but also the Federal Power Commission, the Arizona Power Authority, the Los Angeles Dep't of Water and Power, -- i.e, BuRec, FPC, APA, and LADWP -- and hardly least, the Hualapai. With so many, and there are others, sources, there will be much going back and forth rather than a neat chronology  The story covers about a human lifespan from the beginning of the XXth-century through the 1970's, when the dam dream seemed to become only a ghost, another discord from that too-tragic period, wisps of its over-blown claims still echoing faintly.

No comments:

Post a Comment