Sir: … The article “Lament for a Lost Eden,” by Eliot Porter [October, 1969], affords an excellent example of what I feared in connection with your publication going “conservationist”… In the last paragraph, the author says: “This is the monument men have built —you and I —not to the lost Eden so few knew, but to their engineering ingenuity and ruthless ability to transform the land, to remake it simply for the sake of remaking it, thoughtlessly, improvidently.” This is pure fanaticism and unworthy of publication in A MERICAN H ERITAGE . I hate fanatics on either side of a question.
I have not the slightest acquaintance with Lake Powell or its purpose. But I am sure that it was built with a purpose in mind water supply, power, flood control, or what have you. Certainly it was not built solely “to transform the land, to remake it simply for the sake of remaking it, thoughtlessly and improvidently.” Very simply, this is a lie. It may be that its construction was a mistake, but this is a matter of weighing its benefits against the “conservation” losses. Too often the conservationists—and possibly their opponents—are so fanatically convinced that their views outweigh any other considerations that sober consideration of the facts is extremely difficult. To quote an old and distinguished friend in the lower Mississipi Valley, the question often is: “Who is to live on the land? people or ducks?”
… Mr. Porter’s phrase “the Eden so few knew” may betray him. If so few knew it, is much lost?