The Powell and the Glory
Lake Powell is drying up; Glen Canyon is coming back
Lake Powell is dropping by a foot every four days, thanks to ongoing drought in the West — and many enviros couldn’t be happier about it. Veteran conservation leader David Brower called the completion of Glen Canyon dam in 1963, and the subsequent drowning of the canyon and its many side canyons to create Lake Powell, the greatest disappointment of his life. Since then, many activists have been arguing, futilely, for the draining of the lake. But what activism hasn’t been able to accomplish, Mother Nature is. Since 1999, Lake Powell has lost more than 60 percent of its water, dropping 129 feet. Where there was once 250 square miles of flat water there are now 131, and as the lake recedes, plants and wildlife are returning and many side canyons are becoming accessible by foot. Most hydrologists agree that, short of a massive and unexpected series of rainy years, the lake will never be back to its former levels.