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Know the West

Down with dams?

  Dave Wegner, the scientist who studied the Grand Canyon ecosystem for more than a decade, said he thinks Glen Canyon Dam is just one of many that could go.

"I'd take out Glen Canyon. I'd take out Flaming Gorge. And I'd look at Navajo Dam on the San Juan River," he said, while attending the American Geophysical Union's fall meeting in San Francisco. Wegner recently quit the Bureau of Reclamation, charging that its commitment to restore river ecosystems in the West was faltering (HCN, 12/23/96).

The idea is now on the table. Some scientists agree with Wegner's approach. Last year, the Sierra Club called for removal of Glen Canyon Dam.

"Dam removal is not a totally insane idea," said Jack Schmidt, a Utah State University geographer, although he cautioned that all the trade-offs had to be looked at. But Schmidt added: "Flaming Gorge is the first dam I'd like to take out."

* Lee Siegel