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The Marvels of Man, the Wonders of Nature

August 20, 2004

Re "The Chasm Between Grand and Great," Commentary, Aug. 17: So Shawn Macomber would rather look at "more than 6 million tons of concrete restraining the Colorado River" than view the grandeur of the Grand Canyon? I suspect too that he would rather watch a reality TV program than a historical documentary or listen to a rapper than a church choir.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Unfortunately, more and more "beholders" have discarded the beauties of nature and the arts and have satisfied their "artistic" needs with the more mundane. To be sure, the Hoover Dam is one of the greatest building achievements of man, but to compare it to the Grand Canyon as a sight to behold is absurd.

Bob Murtha

Santa Maria

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How could an article about the Hoover Dam not mention the egregious environmental disasters the dam has caused all over the American West? Water shortages chronically plague Arizona and New Mexico. Greener lawns in Las Vegas equate to entire towns shriveling up and dying. We need to start the shift to cleaner, less depleting energy: the wind, sun and smaller hydropower projects that don't harness mighty rivers and drive them off course.

The Hoover Dam was an engineering marvel in its day, like the steam engine or the lightbulb, but we've got the technology now to promote less resource-heavy alternatives.

Mary Kathryn Campbell

Atwater Village

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As a geographer who has observed and published on Hoover Dam, I have mixed feelings about Macomber's exultation over the dam versus the canyon.

He isn't the first or last to compare the natural gifts on the planet with the inventiveness of man to remake the environment.

Let's take the idea further: Yosemite Valley versus Mt. Rushmore, Mt. Whitney versus the Empire State Building.

When I researched Hoover Dam, I too stood in wonder. But I have rethought the implications of man-made alteration of nature. In this case there would be no dam without the river and its "hole in the ground." And the river will still be here without the dam.

Imre Sutton

Fullerton

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