A dam’s true legacy


Thank you for “On the Road to 50: A grand beginning,” (HCN, 5/13/19) and your reporting on the artificially regulated Colorado River and the conundrum surrounding Grand Canyon’s identity.

When the Marble Canyon Dam project was canceled, the real trade-off was the Navajo Generating Station and the Black Mesa Mine. These provided the power necessary to run the Central Arizona Project and delivered water to Phoenix. Massive transmission lines towered over homes on the Navajo Nation that lacked electricity. The mine fouled the land and sucked out precious groundwater. Social conflicts emerged, some of which were used by the federal government to deeply divide communities. The mine and power plant created economic dependencies that we now must deal with.

It is easy to be nostalgic over Glen Canyon, and I want it restored as much as anyone. However, we must realize the true legacy is a monster with tentacles that reach further than Glen Canyon’s winding shoreline. Those tentacles are unraveling and will have socioeconomic and environmental consequences that persist long into the future.

Alicyn Gitlin
Flagstaff, Arizona

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