Let My River Go

The idea of ownership is silly. For starters, the river is here, and we belong to it. That being said, someone has to take responsibility for it. I mean, take a look at it. It’s being raped on all fronts! So, what is one to do? Hoist the Abby flag? Monkeywrench some tractors? The idea sounds fun. Jail time, on the other hand, not so much. Then what? Maybe, just maybe, those SoCal surfers have the right idea. “Stay off my beach! Shoe-bee!” Run em off like the stray dogs. The river being diverted and all our desert being turned into farmland and its banks being turned into a garbage dump. Still not convinced?

In all her majesty, The Colorado flows from the base of Northern Colorado’s snowy mountains. Across the southeastern part of Utah, the northwestern corner of Arizona. Then straight down the middle of the Arizona and California border. On the way, she is stopped up by 15 dams in her 1,450-mile run. The Colorado is one of the most developed rivers in the world! If this doesn’t fill you with trepidation, stop reading this article. It’s not for you! Still with me? Okay…Cool! I still have more opportunities to offend you in the coming paragraphs. Maybe your just curious how I will spin a tale of bullshit as to why we should chase off those oppressors of the river. Why our water shouldn’t be sent to Phoenix, LA, and Las Vegas. Those filthy weasels with their lawns and fountains and backyard swimming pools. Sure little Timmy needs to drink water. Yes! Grandma Ruth needs her baths. From the factory, Frank needs his respite from the long hours of standing at a machine. Day in and day out, pressing out plastic parts for who knows what gadget. He needs a cold beer and a lawn to water. The idea completely escaping most people. This is the fucking desert. For god’s sake, man. If fountains were meant to flow here, it would be a far sight greener. This is the sprite of the west. not the romantic one at least. Not the going west in hopes of adventure and glory. Nope! This is the unspoken sprite of growth and shoeing out any opposing culture. The gentrification of the desert! Refine her real good. Slap a good-looking cheap dress on here and send her out with the boys…The desert, that is. Okay, now I’m straying from the river topic, or am I? I got it “normal people” have a predilection for comfort and have whatever they please, right the fuck now! Hence the dams holding up the rivers mighty race to the Sea of Cortez. She has been whipped and broken and turned out on the street corner like a $5 hooker! All in the sprite of the west. Abby had it right, you know. “Growth is the ideology of a cancer cell.” Think about that for a minute. Oh, and I guess I should get around to presenting some facts. No philosophical ramblings can be presented without the facts these days! On second thought, let’s save the facts for later. Best not to muddy this rant with facts.

Lake Mead National Park

If you get the impression, I am a little pissed by this point; well, welcome to the conversation. Currently, Lake Mead is sitting around 39% of its capacity. If you talk to Edward Abby, he might say it’s 39% over capacity considering it was originally a river. Due to increasing water demands and the need to kick the country’s ass into gear during the great depression. The majestic Colorado has been dammed up. John Wesley Powell would be heartbroken to see how tame the river has become. He had conflicting ideas about the river. Not wanting every drop of the river being siphoned off, but also believed that agriculture was the future of the nation. This idea doesn’t seem so foreign. Powell, I would think, wouldn’t want all the water being sent off to central Arizona and California. Powell was an adventurer. These days though, Powell’s adventure down The Colorado can be had for just a few thousand dollars. Plus, thousands of dollars worth of equipment and a file cabinet worth of permits. Yes, it is still an adventure. One could argue it’s just as much an adventure. It can also be argued that map books and guides, guide services, and support systems sort of taking the breath out of it. The simple fact of trying to access the grand canyon beyond the park overlooks is next to impossible. It seems that every acre of The Colorado has been monetized. Powell argued that the river could never keep up with American optimism.

Davis Dam Park

Ok!…setting aside the idea that the river is being sucked dry. She has other destructive participants. Go to any park or recreation area’s along the Colorado on any given day, and you will find thousands of people and boats. This in and of itself is not necessarily a problem. The problems with this are inherent. People are notoriously terrible at cleaning up after themselves—furthermore, the tendency to take up as much space as possible. To camp as grandly as possible with the outlook that they are out of civilization, things like respect and manners go straight out the window. You can spend days and days collecting trash off the beaches. In this author’s opinion, it is possible to circle the entire world in the fishing line collected from just the Colorado River system’s beaches. The simple act of caring for her seems to be too hard to manage. “Pack it in, pack it out.” “Leave nothing but footprints” these tag lines seem laughable. These days the idea is; get the idea to go to the lake. Then rush to the store, load up on soda and beer, cheap folding chairs and disposable EZ-UPs, and tons of other stuff destined for the trash can. Then go to the lake spread all the stuff out over the beach. Throw empty glass bottles into the lake and then go home, leaving all the trash. It’s truly heartbreaking.

The Honest Truth. It’s too late. Progress must happen—progress at all costs. Progress, plowing over every hill and tree. Drinking every drop of water from the rivers and lakes and dumping trash in the oceans. Hard to believe there can be harmony. Comfort has given a license to take and take. People lose their cool over the slightest inconvenience. How could we turn back from this? The river will never survive. Henry Ford gave us the 5 day work week. Leasure has taken hold. From now on, till the end of our time, we shall consume and take and leave our discarded joy all over the beaches, then slog our way back to the mill unable as Mario Savio would put it.

You’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels … upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop! And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!”

Mario Savio

It wont happen though until things get to dire. Well I guess tell we realize things have already become dire.

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