Each summer I do penance at Lake Powell for the environmental sins of its visitors. This summer was no exception as I volunteered to work on a houseboat called the Trash Tracker. Our job: picking up debris in 108-degree heat along 100 miles or so of the 1,900-mile shoreline.
Our team found the usual amount of beer and soda cans, diapers, toys, plywood, pillows, water bottles, fireworks and golf balls. In five days we picked up almost 50 full bags of trash, though in the oppressive heat we covered less ground than usual. But this summer, we saw more toilet paper and human feces than we’ve ever seen before. Just ask Ranger Terry Bell, who had to dedicate some of her time this summer to go on “poop patrol” around the lake to prevent the spread of fecal chloroform bacteria.
It seems that a lot of motor-boaters and houseboat users haven’t a clue about “Leave No Trace” ethics. And throughout the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which surrounds Lake Powell, recreational mayhem is only getting worse. The lake shore has become a wasteland of weeds, tamarisk, exploded fireworks and fire rings full of broken glass and melted aluminum.
So, after three summers of picking up trash, I’ve come to a revelation: Forget about draining Lake Powell, or “Lake Foul” as the critics call it. Draining the lake is not happening anytime soon because of the legal water rights of downstream states and Mexico; then there’s also the increasing signs of drought.
The writer Ed Abbey wanted to blow up Glen Canyon Dam, but he couldn’t get the job done. Back in 1981, EarthFirst! had fun by tossing a large black plastic wedge over Glen Canyon Dam to make it look like the dam was cracked and ready to spill. Nice gesture and a memorable picture, but ineffective.
I’m tired of waiting the 1,000 years or so that it will take before the mighty Colorado River, which drains 243,000 square miles, finally silts up behind the dam and turns it into a huge waterfall. I want Glen Canyon back for paddlers and those who row boats — now.
Read more at http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/opinion/50125414-82/lake-powell-canyon-glen.html.csp