RIP - Floyd Dominy

Great obituary over at High Country News:
Floyd Dominy, the colossus of dams, dies at 100
Floyd Dominy, who made it his mission to improve nature by, among other things, damming the Colorado River at Glen Canyon and creating the more user-friendly Lake Powell, has died at the age of 100.

Some had hoped that Glen Canyon Dam would go first, draining Lake Powell and restoring the river�s ecosystem. But Dominy, who was commissioner for the Bureau of Reclamation from 1959 to 1969, spoke of his pride in his achievement during an interview a decade ago: �Glen Canyon Dam and the creation of the most wonderful lake in the world, Lake Powell, is my crowning jewel."

One week before Dominy passed away in Virginia at his Angus farm, I spoke to him by telephone. I wanted to talk to the man I�d first learned about long ago from reading John McPhee�s Encounters with the Archdruid. I can think of no better way to write a story than the way McPhee did: You put two enemies in a rubber raft (along with a handful of unsuspecting strangers) and send them all down a wild river together.

That�s what McPhee did with Dominy and David Brower, the Sierra Club president who considered the construction of Glen Canyon Dam his biggest environmental policy failure. McPhee set the stage with both scenery and character. His canvas was the Colorado River, with its mile-high rock walls and hundreds of side canyons. And his characters were equally memorable: Brower, the environmental leader, who saw what would be lost to the rising waters; and Dominy, the determined dam-builder, who learned as a young man in Nebraska that water in a river does no good at all if isn�t made available for people to use.

In the end, it seemed that Dominy and Brower had a blast, drinking beer and occasionally bickering about whether remote stretches of the Colorado were valuable because they were untouched, or wasted because they weren�t being developed.
Sounds like he would have been a great person to know. Dams are a stickey question -- hydroelectricity is a great source of power and there are lots of people recreating on the lakes. Does every single river need to be protected -- can't we have some protected and some developed? The environmentalists are a great one for telling people to coexist. How about they take their own words at face value... There is a group up here wanting to enroll one of our rivers in the Federal Wild and Scenic Rivers program. This is awesome and would bring a lot of eco-tourists into the area. The problem is that the area they are laying claim to includes a tributary of another river that has active logging on the hillsides above. The loggers do not want to give up their income and that particular river is not used very much for recreation or fishing even today.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on April 25, 2010 7:23 PM.

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