Saving Grand Canyon: Dams, Deals, and a Noble Myth

Univ. of Nevada. 2019. 368p. ISBN 9781948908214. $39.95. NAT HIST
Drawing on more than two decades of research, Pearson (history, West Texas A&M Univ.) examines the role of dams in the history of Grand Canyon National Park. For many years, various states and the federal government sought to build hydroelectric dams in or near the national park, with efforts reaching a fever pitch in the 1960s. Though it is commonly thought that the work of conservationist group the Sierra Club was responsible for “saving the Grand Canyon” and the Colorado River, Pearson shows that it was influential congressional leaders who successfully blocked dam construction. Divided into nine chapters, the book covers the history of dam building, including the Glen Canyon Dam and Hetch Hetchy, and illuminates the role of politicians such as Sen. Henry Jackson and Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall. Pearson also discusses how presidential politics in the late 1960s, the changing role of environmental groups, and the adoption of the National Environmental Policy Act shaped public opinion about the need to protect natural lands and resources.
VERDICT An important addition for all environmental collections.
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