Saturday, February 11, 2017

Introduction To A Crossroads In American History

How In The 1960’s We Chose The Course That Would Better Protect The Environment Supporting Us, On Which We Would Depend For Our Future Well-being and Prosperity
I have wrestled over the years with the Jabberwock of narrating how the United States in 1966-8 turned away from a future of megalomaniac exploitation of the earth and its resources, to build a future richer in its dimensions and more mutually supportive of that earth and the prosperity that depends on it.

That story has many themes and strands; I think it meaningful to emphasize the effort to protect the Grand Canyon from becoming the site of a titanic industrialization, beginning with the construction of two electricity-generating dams along with all the necessary appurtenant claptrap development, by-blow facilities, and destruction such gargantuan despoilers require and inspire.

The political atmosphere of those times, that accepted such beasts as normal & inevitable, has long dissipated and severely modified; my task, first, seems to be how to make that social-political miasma credible, feel a bit real. The method I have chosen uses written media — the articles that were collected in my Sierra Club Southwest Representative’s office at the time from newspapers I subscribed to or were sent to me. My aim is to see what kind of armature I can get them to provide to hang the dam-fight narrative on.

These newspapers (the most easily preserved media of the 1960’s) provided the most continuous, fullest reportage for the fight over the dams within the larger effort to obtain congressional approval of the Central Arizona Project, and the even larger effort to satisfy the unslakable cry of the American Southwest for a bottomless water supply. They are hardly complete nor even a judicious random sampling.  However, potentially these essays will give the reader a sense of the busy-ness of some periods, and of the times’ most noticeable events (although some significant ones may have received little or no publicity). Each month will be a separate post — from January 1966 (when I started as the Club’s SW Representative) through the end of the fight in 1968.

The date and source will be identified. A list of sources and abbreviations follows below. I will provide contextual comments (in blue) in the hope of adding to the sense of a continuous narrative. The media items are condensed, with a liberal use of what I hope is obvious shorthand (Colo for Colorado, R for River, CRB for Colorado River Basin,…)

Once this exercise is complete, once the armature is hung, I will go back into my files, hoping to flesh the narraitve out with different kinds of material from personal and official sources.

ABBREVIATIONS (underlined)

Dates in day month form (15 Jan) with year only if different from heading.
A name after the media name is the writer, e.g. B Cole for Ben Cole of the Rep.

af  acre-feet, amount of water to cover 1 acre 1 foot deep

AP Associated Press

Club Sierra Club, nationwide, with headquarters in San Francisco

DPost Denver Post, morning paper, one of two important Denver papers

Gaz Phoenix Gazette, afternoon paper

NYTimes or NYT The New York Times

RD Reader’s Digest, monthly national magazine

Reclamation, BuRec Bureau of Reclamation, federal agency seeking authority to build dams

Rep Arizona Republic, dominant Phoenix newspaper

RMN Rocky Mountain News, Denver afternoon paper

Scottsdale AZ Progress, Phoenix-area paper, leaning pro-Canyon

Sentinel, Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, Colorado’s western slope, home paper of Representative W. Aspinall area

Star Arizona Daily Star, Tucson morning & dominant paper

Sun Arizona Daily Sun, Flagstaff newspaper

Trib Salt Lake Tribune, main SLC paper

WWN  “Western Water News”, Irrigation Districts Assoc. of Calif. monthly newsletter

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