Fight for the Heart of Dinosaur
"Echo Park Dam would back water so far that ... Echo Park and its magnificent rock formations would be submerged. Dinosaur National Monument as a scenic spectacle would cease to exist."
Shall We Let Them Ruin Our National Parks
Bernard DeVoto, Author and Historian, 1950
In 1950, a plan to build a 550 foot high (168 m) dam on the Green River near Echo Park threatened to forever change the character of Dinosaur National Monument. Another dam was planned downstream in Split Mountain Canyon. The dams would have inundated much of the monument's dramatic canyon scenery. Fremont cultural sites, historic homesteads, spawning beds for native fish, along with habitat for bighorn sheep, elk, and other wildlife and plant life would have been submerged.
Some people advocated in favor of the dams for water storage and recreation. Others were concerned about the sanctity of national parks and stepped forward to explain and defend the special values that define Dinosaur National Monument as one of America's treasured, wild places.
After more than five years of heated debate, President
The confrontation over dams in Dinosaur National Monument rallied a diverse coalition of people and organizations including the General Federation of Women's Clubs, the American Nature Association, the Conservation Foundation, the National Parks Association, the Isaak Walton League, and the Wilderness Society. The Sierra Club joined the cause after David Brower became the executive director in 1952.
Using his background in publishing, Brower swiftly rushed to press This is Dinosaur: Echo Park and Its Magic Rivers, featuring photographs by Martin Litton and Philip Hyde, and edited by Wallace Stegner. Every member of the US Congress received a copy of the book along with a brochure titled What is Your Stake in Dinosaur?
Meanwhile, Howard Zahniser from the Wilderness Society negotiated with members of Congress behind the scenes. The success of these organizations in defeating proposed dams in Dinosaur National Monument demonstrated their ability to confront perceived threats to conservation on a national scale.
Pamphlet by the Upper Colorado River Commission highlighting Echo Park Dam benefits.
Erected by National Park Service.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Charity & Public Work • Parks & Recreational Areas • Waterways & Vessels.
Location. 40° 30.842′ N, 109° 2.02′ W. Marker is near Dinosaur, Colorado, in Moffat County. Marker is on Harpers Corner Road, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Maybell CO 81640, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 5 other markers are within 14 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. What Makes a Wilderness? (approx. 4.4 miles away); Twentieth Century Homestead (approx. 9.6 miles away in Utah); A Real Pioneer (approx. 9.6 miles away in Utah); A Fremont Mystery (approx. 10˝ miles away in Utah); Are We There Yet? (approx. 13.8 miles away).
Credits. This page was last revised on January 7, 2021. It was originally submitted on December 27, 2020, by Connor Olson of Lemmon, South Dakota. This page has been viewed 40 times since then and 39 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on December 27, 2020, by Connor Olson of Lemmon, South Dakota. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.