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Wrong Ken Sleight?

Ken Sleight

Elected Chair of the Glen Canyon Group of the Utah Chapter

Sierra Club

HQ Phone:  (415) 977-5500

Email: k***@***.org

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Sierra Club

85 Second Street

San Francisco, California,94105

United States

Company Description

The Sierra Club is America's largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.4 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club work...more

Background Information

Employment History

Owner

Pack Creek Ranch


Activist

Glen Canyon


Director

DRC


Affiliations

Friends

Founder


Web References(46 Total References)


Ken Sleight: Duty to Disobey...by Sean Prentiss and Katie Phelan | Canyon Country Zephyr

www.canyoncountryzephyr.com [cached]

Ken Sleight: Duty to Disobey...by Sean Prentiss and Katie Phelan
Ken Sleight, a now 82-year-old former river-runner and activist, had lost. Even for all his efforts to preserve the river country he called home, the dam and its waters swallowed entire canyon systems in southern Utah and northern Arizona. The resulting reservoir became known as Lake Powell, which Sleight dubbed "Lake Foul." Before the dam scarred Glen Canyon, Sleight guided about fifteen raft trips a year on the Colorado River, and bristled at the threat of the impending dam. This indignation led him to join what would be his first of many protests: a small affair of protesters without a permit, carting signs and posters. "When do you have to have a permit just to walk around? Sleight asks, eyes wide. "And we were stopping traffic around the river of course. And the Park Service down there came over and stole all of our signs. Our hokey signs. He laughs. "We didn't know how to do things. If that came up today, boy would we know how, yes, we would know how! Sleight's arms fly wide like a bird taking flight, his jaw set. Before the dam, Glen Canyon was a kind of sanctuary, largely unexplored. The red rock walls rose like pottery around the river that reflects them, that Colorado red, winding in and out of slices of sunshine. And Sleight, no matter how many tours he led as the rock lit up in the descent of the day, had to catch his breath. Now, the Carl B. Hayden Visitor Center offers free tours of the lake and the power plant, but steel rods have replaced deep, boundless canyons. "One of the thrills of river running is the freedom you feel," Sleight says. "You're not regimented. The dam took away the thrill." Sleight starts talking hard and fast. Too much," Sleight says, sighing. But boy, how he fought. In the days leading up to the damming of the Colorado, Sleight and six other river-running friends formed Friends of Glen Canyon. Sleight also became the first elected chair of the Glen Canyon Group of the Sierra Club's Utah chapter. In 1999, he won the David R. Brower award for Outstanding Service in the Field of Conservation. And when Lake Powell flooded Rainbow Bridge National Monument, he sued the government for illegally flooding a national park property. Rather than address the issue, the government changed its laws, rendering the flooding legal and Sleight outraged. "I could have done more," Sleight says. Sleight, whose voice crescendos wildly during his passionate retellings of the old days and the old battles, isn't beaten yet. Case in point: he yet hopes to see the destruction of Glen Canyon Dam, preferably while he's still alive (he talks about getting on his knees and praying for the dam to crumble, just like Abbey wrote about in The Monkey Wrench Gang). Case in point: Just last week he tore out a real estate sign pressed into the soft soil of Pack Creek's property, because it violated neighborhood regulations. Case in point: his wife, Jane, detects a snag in his use of the term "right," and he argues so insistently that she sets down her buffalo burger to amble inside and find a dictionary. ("It's the only way to solve this," she says.) All in the name of justice. Jane returns, takes her seat in a rocking chair and opens the enormous dictionary. "She always does this," Sleight says, grinning. Sleight, feeling reinforced in his argument, continues to define justice, or rightness, as he knows it. "It can mean lying down in front of machines, or tearing down signs, or disrupting meetings or whatever. If you feel so deep down that what they're doing is unjust, sometimes you have a duty to disobey." In 1991, armed with only conviction and a horse named Knothead, Sleight fulfilled this duty-he saddled up, rode to Amassa Back Mesa in Moab, and stood down bulldozers before they began to take down several hundred acres of juniper forest. Although the D-9 Caterpillar blades advanced to within inches of his horse, Sleight showed no sign of surrender. And the bulldozers stopped. Seldom Seen Slim, an ornery Mormon character with features and mannerisms undeniably reminiscent of Sleight, was known for his monkey wrenching of governmental plans. Sleight's old friend Abbey never formally declared that the character was sketched from Sleight, but to Abbey's fans and followers, there can be no doubt. "Yeah, you get an image," Sleight says, though for many years he would not admit to the similarities. Sleight has always been willing to fight, but he's also been willing to change. A self-proclaimed liberal, he cites his days of being a Republican and the gradual shift to the left side before becoming the county Democratic chairman. "When I was at the University of Utah, boy, I was conservative as all hell. I was just like all the other Mormons. I was invited to John Birch meetings. Never did join the son of a...," Sleight pauses and clears his throat, dimples flashing. "We got out, and we were so pissed off at everything that was happening... we took those boxes of beer cans and threw them on the road," Sleight says. "They weren't supposed to have this dam. Sleight pauses, and his anger hangs in the air for a moment. But Sleight defends his old friend. As the light fades on the porch, Sleight details the book he plans to write. "That book thing has been a joke all these years. I'm not going to get it done," Sleight says with a nod. He's made several references over the past couple days to the book he will someday publish, and this is the first negative one. Jane clears her throat and seems defensive, for his stories; for him. "You could," she offers. "I would like to," he says. Sleight takes a swig of beer and continues, "But writing, you always hope you take some of your thoughts and give them to other people. 2 comments for " Ken Sleight: Duty to Disobey...by Sean Prentiss and Katie Phelan" Nice to know that Ken is still fighting the good fight, though.


www.canyoncountryzephyr.com

Ken Sleight: Duty to Disobey...by Sean Prentiss and Katie Phelan
Ken Sleight, a now 82-year-old former river-runner and activist, had lost. Even for all his efforts to preserve the river country he called home, the dam and its waters swallowed entire canyon systems in southern Utah and northern Arizona. The resulting reservoir became known as Lake Powell, which Sleight dubbed "Lake Foul." Before the dam scarred Glen Canyon, Sleight guided about fifteen raft trips a year on the Colorado River, and bristled at the threat of the impending dam. This indignation led him to join what would be his first of many protests: a small affair of protesters without a permit, carting signs and posters. "When do you have to have a permit just to walk around? Sleight asks, eyes wide. "And we were stopping traffic around the river of course. And the Park Service down there came over and stole all of our signs. Our hokey signs. He laughs. "We didn't know how to do things. If that came up today, boy would we know how, yes, we would know how! Sleight's arms fly wide like a bird taking flight, his jaw set. Before the dam, Glen Canyon was a kind of sanctuary, largely unexplored. The red rock walls rose like pottery around the river that reflects them, that Colorado red, winding in and out of slices of sunshine. And Sleight, no matter how many tours he led as the rock lit up in the descent of the day, had to catch his breath. Now, the Carl B. Hayden Visitor Center offers free tours of the lake and the power plant, but steel rods have replaced deep, boundless canyons. "One of the thrills of river running is the freedom you feel," Sleight says. "You're not regimented. The dam took away the thrill." Sleight starts talking hard and fast. Too much," Sleight says, sighing. But boy, how he fought. In the days leading up to the damming of the Colorado, Sleight and six other river-running friends formed Friends of Glen Canyon. Sleight also became the first elected chair of the Glen Canyon Group of the Sierra Club's Utah chapter. In 1999, he won the David R. Brower award for Outstanding Service in the Field of Conservation. And when Lake Powell flooded Rainbow Bridge National Monument, he sued the government for illegally flooding a national park property. Rather than address the issue, the government changed its laws, rendering the flooding legal and Sleight outraged. "I could have done more," Sleight says. Sleight, whose voice crescendos wildly during his passionate retellings of the old days and the old battles, isn't beaten yet. Case in point: he yet hopes to see the destruction of Glen Canyon Dam, preferably while he's still alive (he talks about getting on his knees and praying for the dam to crumble, just like Abbey wrote about in The Monkey Wrench Gang). Case in point: Just last week he tore out a real estate sign pressed into the soft soil of Pack Creek's property, because it violated neighborhood regulations. "She always does this," Sleight says, grinning. Sleight, feeling reinforced in his argument, continues to define justice, or rightness, as he knows it. "It can mean lying down in front of machines, or tearing down signs, or disrupting meetings or whatever. If you feel so deep down that what they're doing is unjust, sometimes you have a duty to disobey." In 1991, armed with only conviction and a horse named Knothead, Sleight fulfilled this duty-he saddled up, rode to Amassa Back Mesa in Moab, and stood down bulldozers before they began to take down several hundred acres of juniper forest. Although the D-9 Caterpillar blades advanced to within inches of his horse, Sleight showed no sign of surrender. And the bulldozers stopped. Seldom Seen Slim, an ornery Mormon character with features and mannerisms undeniably reminiscent of Sleight, was known for his monkey wrenching of governmental plans. Sleight's old friend Abbey never formally declared that the character was sketched from Sleight, but to Abbey's fans and followers, there can be no doubt. "Yeah, you get an image," Sleight says, though for many years he would not admit to the similarities. Sleight has always been willing to fight, but he's also been willing to change. A self-proclaimed liberal, he cites his days of being a Republican and the gradual shift to the left side before becoming the county Democratic chairman. "When I was at the University of Utah, boy, I was conservative as all hell. I was just like all the other Mormons. I was invited to John Birch meetings. Never did join the son of a…," Sleight pauses and clears his throat, dimples flashing. "We got out, and we were so pissed off at everything that was happening… we took those boxes of beer cans and threw them on the road," Sleight says. "They weren't supposed to have this dam. Sleight pauses, and his anger hangs in the air for a moment. But Sleight defends his old friend. As the light fades on the porch, Sleight details the book he plans to write. "That book thing has been a joke all these years. I'm not going to get it done," Sleight says with a nod. He's made several references over the past couple days to the book he will someday publish, and this is the first negative one. Sleight takes a swig of beer and continues, "But writing, you always hope you take some of your thoughts and give them to other people. 2 comments for " Ken Sleight: Duty to Disobey...by Sean Prentiss and Katie Phelan" Nice to know that Ken is still fighting the good fight, though.


SIERRA CLUBBED

www.canyoncountryzephyr.com [cached]

By Ken Sleight & Jim Stiles Even as the dam was being built, Ken Sleight helped organize the Friends of Glen Canyon to stop the Bureau from completing its work.Ken Sleight in Glen CanyonBut it all seemed Quixotic, the wild dreams of dedicated dreamers.Appropriately, the members voted to call themselves "The Glen Canyon Group" and, in late July, Ken Sleight hand-carried the preliminary paperwork to the Chapter for approval along with a list of officers (Sleight had been elected chair) and concerns that the group hoped to address.On July 30, Ken Sleight wrote to Nina Dougherty, President of the Chapter, and the Chapter ExCom advising them that some of the Moab members of the Sierra Club would be attending their August 2 meeting to plead our cause and that members would be having an organizational meeting on September 7 at Pack Creek Ranch, near Moab.On August 2, Ken Sleight, John Weisheit, and Kevin Walker represented the members from the Moab area at the Chapter meeting in Salt Lake City.In the next two months, Sleight sent a series of letters and requests to the Utah Chapter.In order to proceed, the group needed information, such as the names and addresses of Sierra Club members in southern Utah, it wanted to become more involved in Chapter activities and committee work, but his requests were completely ignored.And Sleight explained the need to coordinate other environmental concerns, such as the transportation of nuclear waste, with the chapter."Because we don't have a strong grass-roots voice in southern Utah, I fear we are losing the battle to keep nuclear waste out of San Juan County," Sleight wrote in one letter to Chapter Chair Nina Dougherty.On October 4, the ExCom held its monthly meeting and Sleight was there anyway.He felt like a Christian walking into the lion's den.Representing the group, Sleight finally got to speak briefly to the Chapter."As Sierra Club members," he said, "we request that the Utah Chapter follow the policy as laid down by the national Sierra Club regarding the restoration of Glen Canyon.Sleight tried to hold things together, urging his members to stand tough against the restrictive resolutions and efforts to further divide them.All the group wanted from the Chapter was a vote--even a "no" would allow the group to appeal the ExCom's decision to national and it had a good chance of winning, without compromising anything.On December 8, 1999, the ExCom held its monthly meeting, Sleight demanded a vote, the ExCom balked.And Sleight walked.Unfortunately nobody else walked with him.Sleight later resigned from the Sierra Club altogether.


Living Rivers News and Announcements

www.livingrivers.org [cached]

Click here to watch the video with Ken Sleight


Living Rivers The End of Lake Powell Campaign

livingrivers.org [cached]

Even in the 1950's, however, there was a movement to save the Glen. In 1954, a group of environmentalists in Utah, led by Ken Sleight, formed the Friends of Glen Canyon, whose objective was to revive a near-forgotten 1938 proposal for a national monument that would encompass Glen Canyon and much of the Escalante region.
Amidst the clamor of the Echo Park debate, unfortunately, their voice went unheeded. Yet Lake Powell continued to raise controversy. In 1970, Friends of the Earth and Ken Sleight sued the federal government for allowing the waters of the reservoir to enter nearby Rainbow Bridge National Monument, in violation of the CRSP.


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