"Damnation of a Canyon" - Edward Abbey; Bureau of Reclamation website


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As I read through ‘Damnation of a Canyon’ I felt really offended/annoyed with Abbey. He was really rude and had already formed his opinions on the dam without seeing how good it actually is, which I felt was unprofessional. Abbey is stuck in his mindset of the past and doesn’t want to open his eyes to how the world is changing around him. Although a dam would change some nature, it will not ruin it in any way. Change is also a natural thing, which Abbey should soon realize. A dam in Glen Canyon would bring many benefits to the town but Abbey didn’t see it that way. Abbey felt that it the town was better off without the dam, before the dam was put in. I mean I don’t think having rings in your bathtub is a huge deal when the benefits really outweigh this issue. Before the dam all you could do on the lake is float or swim but now you can boat and have more fun with recreational activities! This also makes the lake and properties around it increase in value. Abbey also wanted to shut down the power plant in town but that isn’t possible in this world – we are not completely researched on alternative energy just yet. We all want to have alternative energy but it is yet to be found.

While reading "Damnation of a Canyon" by Edward Abbey, I sensed his tone of voice in the matter, which became apparent that this is a serious topic. In the beginning of the story, Abbey claimed he wasn't that interested in nature, but once he saw how it can be greatly diminished by man-made objects, he gained appreciation for what he once knew as Glen Canyon. Abbey pushed personification throughout his story for the readers to get a feeling of how emotional and impactful the canyons were to the people it served. With the building of Lake Powell, Abbey uses the phrase "recreational facility", and that was a indicator that one of the purposes to change the canyon was for the humans. What I envisioned when Abbey talked about how everything disappeared, out popped a field of abandoned burnt grass. The elements of nature fought against the canyon and Abbey since the government believed that the new lake would cost less and will bring more people to it. Lake Powell may have brought more people, but the cost shot up immensely because the only three options to get out on the lake: buy your own boat, rent, or go into a commercialized one. These frustrations took my view to a whole new level. The irony is that we want to reduce costs and help the environment, but by having more destructive boats causes great confusion. Abbey found this astonishing as well, and wanted to voice his action to shut down what he once thought as okay to do. Towards the end when Abbey said, "...wilderness will again belong to God," I thought it was a little appalling because all the land goes to Earth not anyone else.
When looking at the Reclamation of the Bureau, they said that they are trying to "manage, develop, and protect water by being environmentally and economically sound", but the truth of the matter is that they are not doing either of the two. Environmentally and economically, they are wasting the power plants energy to generate power to 3.5 million homes. There are over 7 billion people in this world. A lot of time and energy is being wasted. Nevertheless, I believe Abbey and the Bureau do have a sense of wanting a change. The issue is that it will be hard to commit to any drastic change since there are so many people in this world to become more aware about nature.

I agree with some, but not all the statements Edward Abbey made. I know exactly where he is coming from when he describes floating down the Colorado River on a little adventure. I float down the Zumbro River in southeastern Minnesota on an inner tube. It is just a lazy river created by nature. It is so relaxing and calming floating down the river, to just let the current of it do all the work. I would be very sad, disappointed, and mad if they were to destroy that by say putting a damn in there. What they did to the Colorado River is just another example of mankind sacrificing nature’s beauty for our own convenience.
There is the flip side though about what the dam does actually do for us. I believe Abbey didn’t give enough credit when credit was due. Yes it did destroy a lot of natural habitats and just overall neat things about the river, but we also need the electricity. With that said, I think there are alternative ways of getting the electricity, say through windmills and other ways. I guess in the end I agree with Abbey that the dam did more harm than good to the river.


Edward Abbey had some valid points about the Glen Canyon Dam. Even though he was a man who did not appreciate nature to begin with, he saw what harm and destruction mankind can do to even the most beautiful landscapes of the world. Abbey was frustrated because what he once saw as a beautiful, serene, quiet canyon bursting with wildlife and vegetation was now a concrete, polluted nightmare. He believes that in time, mother nature will restore the Glen Canyon to its previous status. Something I inquired from reading this passage was that how Abbey refuses to recognize all of the good for mankind the dam can do. It gives mankind much needed electricity to run basically everything in the area. Abbey had some good ideas, but they are very controversial.

Edward Abbey had some valid points about the Glen Canyon Dam. Even though he was a man who did not appreciate nature to begin with, he saw what harm and destruction mankind can do to even the most beautiful landscapes of the world. Abbey was frustrated because what he once saw as a beautiful, serene, quiet canyon bursting with wildlife and vegetation was now a concrete, polluted nightmare. He believes that in time, mother nature will restore the Glen Canyon to its previous status. Something I inquired from reading this passage was that how Abbey refuses to recognize all of the good for mankind the dam can do. It gives mankind much needed electricity to run basically everything in the area. Abbey had some good ideas, but they are very controversial.

Edward Abbey had an interesting opinion. He starts off by saying that he indeed is a wild conservative and his opinion is bias. I did not like reading that because going into the rest of his observation I already knew he was not looking at the whole picture of Glen Canyon and he was just looking at the negative aspects about the dam. I do agree with him that this dam most likely ruined some beautiful aspects of the canyon, however Abbey decides not to look at the positives of the dam. Abbey just addresses the negatives because his view bias. I do believe the dam’s positives do outweighs its negatives. Obviously electricity is important and everyone needs that. I feel like no matter what, when something like this happens something has to get sacrificed for the good of another. There is no way to keep both dam and the beautiful scenery Abbey mentions. This is similar to life; it is hard to impress everyone. Sacrifices have to be made for the sake to make progress in other aspects of life. Like this example the dam had to be made for electricity. Overall I believe Abbey was shut off by the dam because he saw this dam ruining a place that was close to his heart.

For the most part, I agree with Abbey's ideas that the dam did do a lot of harm to the canyon. While reading this, I sort of imagined this beautiful place, with tons of animals and plants just living and having a life for themselves. They're just going about their everyday lives in this canyon, and we can experience this with them for a low cost without harming them or their habitats. Then all of a sudden a dam is built and everything that was once living there is gone and destroyed. There is still some type of beautiful scenery but not as close to what it once was. Humans can still float down it but it cost more and the motors from the boats are now harming the water. Abbey said that in a few years time that it may go back to what it use to be or maybe we could take the time to do it ourselves. But I guess my question is, why did we have to let that happen in the first place? Because we needed another source of energy or electricity? There are other ways in going about this. You have solar power and all other types of renewable resources that can be used. Maybe even used another spot to get energy from that may not have damaged the environment that bad or would've had that big of an impact. There are other ways.

Damnation of a Canyon
While I read Edward Abbey’s story about the Glen Canyon Dam, I grew very mixed feelings about the river and dam itself. Abbey made the point that the dam is harming the nature around it, which it truly is. It causes people not to have the ability to float down the river, and takes away land for wildlife. I agree with Abbey’s frustration toward the dam being placed into the Glen Canyon. From reading the story, I came to the conclusion that this river was really well known and used by many around it. Abbey explained how he wasn’t interested in nature until the dam issue came about. Now he fights for what he believes and for the nature he wants to save. However the good thing about the dam is that it can give their community very much needed electricity. It makes sense in a way to add the dam for electricity, but I know in my hometown we added windmills for more electricity. So I believe that they could find another source, but either way you will have to lose some land due to mankind. But whatever takes up less nature, that’s what I believe should be used first, if you need more electricity after that then you can think more about the dam. It’s hard to have a certain feeling in this situation about the Glen Canyon. I know that if it was a river I had memories from I would agree with Abbey and be totally against the dam. So for his case i would have to agree with Abbey and say that the dam does not needed to be built. I guess it really depends on how much the river truly gets used, how often the Glen Canyon is visited and viewed.

When reading Damnation of a Canyon I can understand where Abbey's feelings are coming from. It kind of relates to what we talked about in class on Tuesday. The Glen Canyon to Abby is like a home. It's something hes been around for a long time. How he's seeing it is that the dam is destroying a place he's attached too. He doesn't want something hes enjoyed for so long to be destroyed. I agree with some of how he feels but I also see the other side. The canyon can be a great source of energy if a dam is put in. The dam also isn't completely destroying the river. Now it will be more of a lake and it will be able to be used by boats and for recreational activities. He talks about Lake Powell and how he doesn't want the Glen Canyon to turn into something like that. Again I see both sides, a trip to Lake Powell can be very expensive but also very enjoyable. I think that Abbey will come around to appreciate the canyon after some time when the dam is built. Some of the nature around the Canyon may be gone but it will still be a beautiful place to visit.


In reading the "Damnation of a Canyon", I found that I both agree and disagree with what the Edward Abbey states. He has a very negative tone throughout a majority of the piece. Abbey blames the government and political groups for the loss of plants and animals in the area because of the building of the dam. Granted the construction of the dam has been the reason for low or high water levels, resulting in drowning of plants or dehydration of them. When plants die, this eventually leads to animals dying, which in turn makes the area either remote or more civilized. In this case, many people tour the waters on their motorboats or join tours out on the river. This area is becoming more civilized and therefore more polluted. Abbey makes this seem like it's the end of the world but I believe in reality it's just the circle of life taking place and eventually nature will be restored to its beautiful state.

Edward Abbey’s, ‘the Damnation of a Canyon’ is about the before and after a dam was placed in the Glen Canyon. The way Glen Canyon was described after the dam was put in just sounded like death. The land had sterile shores, debris, and was causing problems downstream; which overgrown brush and the rapids. Before the dam was put in Abbey was talking about how there was so much life in the Canyon; a bunch of different species of trees and wildlife inhabited the area. The Canyon was a ‘natural lake’ as Abbey put it, but after the dam was put in all the wildlife went away and all the plant life died out. It was true when Abbey was saying in the text how there was no way plants and animals could survive in the kind of condition the dam provided. After the dam was put in the Canyon wasn’t a free river anymore, it became a power –plant reservoir; called Lake Powell.
It’s interesting reading about Glen Canyon from the Abbey’s point of view and then from the Bureau of Reclamation website. Abbey’s is more personal and you feel like you get to know more about the Canyon, and the Bureau Website is just facts about the dam. Reading the facts about the dam; it’s just a massive piece of work and you can tell how it would destroy natural life that was around it. Reading the ‘About Us’, it’s an astonishing moment, because the reclamation say they constructed more than 600 dams. There are more than 600 of those massive dams were made, a lot of nature has been uprooted because it. There are other ways of going about getting water and electricity. The dam for all it’s worth is a good way to get water and electricity, but there can be better and more efficient ways. Like many people in the discussion have been saying, we have some and are still looking for alternatives, but there are so many people in the world that use electricity and water now, making the change from dams to another source would be a slow process.

Abbey had a completely biased opinion about the dam so its really hard to take anything he says seriously. He clearly enjoyed the beauty before the dam but as for everything he said I had to take it with a grain of salt. He was clearly in love with the natural beauty before the dam and clearly very upset about the dam going up. He doesn't go into why the dam is put up but only the negative affects, negative in his eyes, of the dam. He says that the recreational benefits aren't worth it but its hard to tell based on how biased of an opinion he has.

From reading "The Damnation of Canyon" I immediately grasped the emotional appeal Abbey gave when he went into the description of Glen Canyon and his thoughts about it before it turned into a dam. His description about what Glen Canyon meant to him made me realize that you cannot judge something unless you have experienced it or in this case have seen it firsthand. For example, at first Glen Canyon wasn't a lively place until Abbey took the time to observe the environment. When Abbey became open minded about Glen Canyon's features and grew to adore the area, it seemed like he had difficulty accepting the fact that a place he was comfortable with was going to change. I feel like this ties along with the in class discussion that there is a place for everybody that we feel most comfortable being around such as home, a park or in this case Glen Canyon before it turned into a dam.

After reading the "Damnation of a Canyon" by Edward Abbey, I could feel the unhappiness from the author about the Glen Canyon dam. Even I think having a dam is not a bad idea, I can still understand his feelings. The former Glen Canyon is the place that he loved, so he didn’t want those nature scenes to be destroyed, even though the recreation might have some positive effects. Edward was just like a child who wanted to have more candies, but no matter how you try to explain to him that sugar might cause tooth decay, he still wanted candies. From the Bureau of Reclamation website, I don’t feel as bad as Edward Abbey about the dam because I don’t have the same strong connection with the former river canyon that he had. The anger that he had for the recreation made him start to find things that he could blame about, such as human pollution, the lost of animals, and other environment issues. I looked up some personal information about Edward, and I think the experiences he had while working for the national park service might build up a very strong connection between the nature and him, and that’s why he felt so upset when natural environment was involved with human activities.

After reviewing "The Damnation of a Canyon" I have to say that I agree and also disagree with Edward Abbey. I agree with him saying that it is immoral for the government to destroy the nature's beautiful scenery. I also feel like since Abbey wasn't interested in nature in the beginning of the story after seeing the lake being destroyed he started to acknowledge that the fact we all should enjoy the little things that have a big impact in our lives. Since he was very attached to this Lake he doesn't feel right just letting what was once home to him go away. What I disagree with him is that the Damn does help provide us with electricity and other useful resources that help us survive. Although we should by now start to use or create other substitutes that would help keep the nature as appealing as it once was.


After reading the "Damnation of a Canyon" and the Bureau of Reclamation I found it very interesting how the Bureau claimed to have certain goals of the reservoir, but Abbey contradicted almost all of them in his writing. In the beginning of his writing he talked about how he doesn't find beauty in cement. This shows how unhappy he is about the Glen Canyon dam. He discusses how full of life the canyon used to be. For example there were sandy beaches, drinkable water, and wildlife. The way the Glen Canyon was described after the dam went in was completely different. He said the rapids were increasingly getting worse because the stream was no longer strong enough to push the boulders down stream. He also talked about how there were no longer sandy beaches because the current wasn't strong enough to push new sand where old sand once was. Another point he made that interested me was he discussed how the wildlife became almost nonexistent due to the still water. In my opinion I think that Abbey is only looking at the cons of the dam. As I do agree the dam is hurting the natural beauty of the canyon and hurting the wildlife, he isn't looking at the amount of energy it is creating. I do have to agree though, I think the government should do a better job of trying to preserve the area around the reservoir like they said. They did say that one of the goals was to gain public confidence.

After reading the article by Abbey it was easy to see that he was really not a big nature guy. He doesn't go out in his free time and just examine nature. When he went to the Glen Canyon Dam he really appreciated the wildlife and all the nature that was there. He looked further into the area and realized that it had turned into a cement area that was destroying the lake. I agree with Abbey in a certain way that the Goverment should'nt be able to destroy big wildlife areas that are striving with nature. That being said i think that it is also important that we have to build some dams and take advantage of the technology we have. There is a blurred line with me where the Govt. should not intervine.

“Damnation of a Canyon” ended up being a very strong minded piece by Edward Abbey. One of his stronger statements in the piece that stood out to me was when he made the comparison saying that the area from before to now is pretty similar to the difference in life and death. That comes to represent just how strong his feelings are against this dam. Throughout the entire piece he writes about how creating this dam was the worst idea and how horrible it is. Beyond that, what stood out and stuck with me the most was the way he ended the piece. He calms down a little bit and says after hitting rock bottom there will come a day when this land returns to its old manner, it will belong to God again, and it will thrive again. That stuck with me so because I think he is exactly right. And not only to that specific situation, but with many things were involved in. We are creatures that learn from experience and mistakes. We have to make these mistakes and maybe even hit rock bottom before we come to the realization that it isn’t working. We can try to make calculations and predictions for how things will play out in our world or even consequences that will come about, but we won’t really figure it out or learn until we fail a little.

While reading “The Damnation of the Canyon” written by, Edward Abbey, and seeing the pictures of the Glen Canyon Dam after the construction I feel as though there is not a chance that I can be as attached to this dam as Abbey is. Finding a site that you cherish and find beautiful become completely changed will anger anybody. This relates to what we were talking about in class on Tuesday; how would you feel if a place you love was transformed, and there was nothing you could do? I agree in the sense that rivers are meant to be natural, but I do think the fact that Abbey is complaining about how, in his own words, “the most beautiful reservoir in the world” was built. I understand his beliefs on how there shouldn’t be a man-made structure on Glen Canyon Dam in the first place, but I find it funny it happens to be a great one, and that it’s not appreciated.

After reading Edwards passage about his view on the dam and looking at the photo on the Bureau of Reclamation site, I can come to a conclusion that my feelings sway both toward and away from Edwards opinion on the dam. Coming from both sides I feel as if there is a trade-off for whatever decision that is made. Edwards opinion saves the environment and the land but rids the supply of energy in which is a major component of survival in our current society. As for the usage of the dams, mentioned before, it allows the consumers to use the energy created from the dam to power their homes, creating heat, and more. The downside of it is that it continues to destroy the environment that we use to obtain some of our other resources as well like the animals, soil, trees and etc. If I was to choose between one side or the other, I would eventually side with Edward because as humans we rely on resources and if we continue to consume resources without the concern of other resources perishing than we are only simple fools. How can we sustain life by destroying it? The key is to use our resources responsibly and to truly act in the favor of survival and the only way to do so is to focus on both the consumption and reproduction of the resources that are in our hands.


As I read through Abbey's The Damnation of a Canyon, I realized that many negative impacts of building dams were describe by Abbey. He provided some impacts on nature and wildlife around the dam. For most of the part I could not disagree with Abbey, but he does not mention any possible actions than not building dams to overcome human's needs. He needs to give some alternative solution that can maintain the balance of nature and the human needs. I supposed that some alternative change of behavior might impact more to the nature, humans need to control what they wanted and use product only when they really need it. They often use product because they are convenience with it, they do not think the long run effect of their consumption. We must change, and no longer rely on the nature to provide us what we want, thus can save millions of acres of wildlife environment to remains untouched by human's hands. This example might be one of other way to prevent dams being build in the river and keep off the official find irrational reasons why dams need to be build. vacation? it just not make any sense, why would someone travel miles away just to see a huge pile of concrete casted by human?

Jesen Tjolleng

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This page contains a single entry by Capper Nichols published on September 10, 2013 10:22 AM.

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