Friday, January 05, 2007


Flood Geology

On December 28, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) issued a news release announcing that, "Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature, due to pressure from Bush administration appointees. Despite promising a prompt review of its approval for a book claiming the Grand Canyon was created by Noah's flood rather than by geologic forces, more than three years later no review has ever been done and the book remains on sale at the park."

As someone who has spent time studying the geology of the inner canyon and walking the trails from the rim to the Colorado River, this news was a big concern to RSR. Fortunately, it turns out news that rangers were barred from telling visitors the true age of the canyon might not be accurate.

Kurt Repanshek, who publishes the National Parks Traveler blog, has the whole story:

I couldn't immediately confirm the gist of the release to my satisfaction. A few days later I stumbled across an even worse conclusion: It wasn't true.

But, as the saying goes, don't let the facts get in the way of a good story. A few sadly took that approach as some in the blogosphere and some news outlets had a field day with this gem.

"Sadly," I say, because this story begged for independent verification even though PEER normally is a very reliable group, fighting the good fight for our public lands. I've run with many of their releases in the past.

But this one was a veritable keg of dynamite, mixing religion with parks and politics. So I emailed David Barna, chief of communications for the Park Service. He was so eager to respond to the allegation that he immediately phoned me to say the release was hogwash.

Grand Canyon rangers, he told me, continue to focus on the geologic story behind the canyon, not the view held by religious fundamentalists that "Noah's flood" created the chasm and that it
couldn't be older than 6,000 years or so.

"Restrictions about what they can say just is not true," Barna told me. "It's in our Management Policies, that we teach the scientific method."

There's much more in Repanshek's post -- including about the book on Noah's flood creating the canyon -- that will set the minds of those, like RSR, who love the canyon at rest.

Well worth reading.


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