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June 2005

Preserving Paradise: Glen Canyon

Drought has brought the canyon back. Would national park status keep it that way?

National park status wouldn’t just benefit the land, it would help the local economy, too, says Peterson. Over the last several years, negative publicity about low lake levels and closed marinas has reduced the number of Lake Powell visitors by half, affecting jobs and businesses. Peterson believes that designating the area a national park would boost numbers, just as it did for Joshua Tree, which has seen visitation double since it went national in 1994.

But securing the name change won’t be easy. Ultimately, a U.S. senator or representative would need to sponsor a bill calling for creation of the national park. The bill would then need approval from Congress and the White House–a process that could take a decade or more.

So what are the odds? "Before the dam was approved in the 1950s, Glen Canyon definitely met national park criteria," says David Haskell, a 33-year National Park Service veteran and current policy director for Living Rivers, another Utah-based group fighting for restoration of Glen Canyon. "But Glen Canyon National Park is a long shot unless it’s coupled with decommissioning the dam."

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