tv The Wonder List With Bill Weir CNN April 3, 2016 7:00pm-8:01pm PDT
-- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com ♪ whiskey is for drinking. water is for fighting. my old man loved that old quote, almost as much as he loved whiskey, water and the american west. alongside a dry ditch under hot sun, he'd mutter it to his horse knee deep in a mountain stream he'd whisper it to a fish, but i
wonder what he'd say now that his american west has a lot less water and a lot more people. we used to dream of riding this river from the rockies through vegas and to the canyon, and now is the chance to float and paddle and how much farming, and fishing and damming and fighting and drowning can one river take? how long can the colorado flow? my name is bill weir, and i'm a storyteller. i have reported are from all over the world, and i have seen so much change, so i made a list
of the most wonderful places to explore right before they change forever. this is "the wonder list. "" " this is the "the wonder list." i have been waiting a long time for this moment, and of course, long time is a relative term when you are floating the muddy colorado across the grand canyon floor, for this is a wonder that millions of years in the making, millions of years of water rippling, sculpting, pounding through billion-year-old rock. but the story of this water and this ride starts much sooner.
>> there is bill weir. >> a generation back with that guy on the horse, big bill weir. he was sick of the city so he moved to the mountains. >> and the only job he could get was in a nail yard, but he wanted to live in the mountains so badly that he was willing to take a job like that. >> when his only son from a brief marriage would come out for the summers, bill and billy would head outdoors in e search of wonder. >> it rerained everyday, and i think that he is clearing up in the west. that is our catch phrase, maybe it cleared m-- it became our ca phrase, but it never cleared up in the west. >> and i never knew how special
he was until the spent accident, because the will had a specific request of billy. >> i took this map with us because this is is the same map that we used when we camped up up there, and i wrote down all of of the things that he paent to me, cowboy, carpenter, explorer, fisherman, skydiver, stargazer, grandfather, a good man. >> one day we will raft the colorado he would say before it is gone. and i think of it every time i read another grim story of of the relentless western drought amid relentless western growth. from denver to los angeles, almost 40 million people depend on the colorado to survive. cities as far as salt lake and
albuquerque, and phoenix and san diego and vegas would not exist without it. so this is a time to splash and saver the best parts before another 20 million stick their straws in by the middle of the center. and we start near a gorgeous part in the colorado rockies called devil's thumb ranch. so if people ask you where is the source of the colorado river, this is it, right? >> yes, this is the top, 1,450 miles long. >> but it is not the spring that comes out of one spot in the ground, but it is a bunch of little creeks. >> yes sh, it is a bunch of cre that turns into rivers. >> mate rice is with american rivers. >> i love this sound so much. >> it is amazing. >> and a group that tries to get the folks out west to understand that water does not come from the tap or the supermarket, but from here until it doesn't. >> i am in fear that we may not
be able to manage the water sustained for a long period of time. >> and he explains that over half of the water in the mountains is taken from cities of denver to colorado springs before a drop reaches the river. >> so somebody with denver water on the other side of the continental divide said flip the ga gate, and this is the result? >> essentially, yes. >> and this is a babbling brook just like the other ones. >> yes, just like the other one, exactly. >> and there are now 26 ditches or pipes taking around 150 billion gallons of snow melt to the cities each year, and once it is diverted over to the continental divide to the eastern side of the mountains, it can never be recycled or put back into the river for use downstream. but the denver suburbs keep growing, and so someone needs to spend another million or two to suck more water to the east,
which may sound reasonable to those folks on that side of the rockies, but it angers everybody on this side, starting with the boucher brothers. >> ah, snack time. hey, boy. >> and so, cattle fed and watered here by the mighty colorado. >> hard to believe that i will be rafting this through the grand canyon in a few days. it doesn't look like much up here. >> isn't that wild. >> at the reider creek ranch the river runs through it. but that does the didn't mean that they own it. you see that the law of the river says that first come, first serve and the miner or the rancher who first put it to use
was given the rights forever. and so that meant that granddad's water rights turned out to be solid gold. >> yes, the value of the water can exceed the value of the land without question. >> but you have to use it or lose it. you take less, and you will get less forever which made sense when just a few homesteaders were sharing the water, but it makes no sense now. agriculture uses up to 80% of the water in the colorado basin, and so city managers and conservation groups have pegged farmers and ranchers as the black hats who have taken more water than they need. >> the thing that a lot of people need to understand is that the water that is left in the river is mostly from the water rights owned by ranchers and farmers, and if it weren't for the water rights, it might all be in a pipe going somewhere else. >> a few years back suggesting that the water rights reform
might get you punched by a cowboy, but colorado is in such dire straits they are willing to talk. >> what is ironic is that a lot of the conservation organizations have gone are from trying to fight to try to cooperate with the ranchers, and i think that we are open to change, and i think that we are open to new ways of doing business, but at the same time, i don't think that this should ever die. it is how the american west was settled, and it is a heck of a way to live a life. >> unlike the water headed to denver, some of the same molecules that drip through the boucher hay will go back into the river, head west and course through the gills of a brown trout or two, and if there is someone who knows at lot about the water molecules and the brown trout, it is the guy waiting for me just downstream.
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and when you're ready to travel, just book the flight you want, on any airline, then use your miles to cover the cost. now you're getting somewhere. what's in your wallet? ♪ >> some days when this river is on fire, there ist not a better place to fish in america, and other days, not so much. [ laughter ] >> jack bombardier was born back east, but like my old man, he came out in the 1980s, and fell in love. >> this is the best section of the colorado river right now. >> you live on the last best stretch of the colorado river. >> yes, that is right. go he has floated it 1,000 times, and has 1,000 stories.
>> one day i looked up and said, holy [ muted ] there is a dinosaur track. and i had one of my friends at the museum of science say, hey, send me a picture of scale, and we are will try to figure out what it is. and soy grabbed the pbr out of the cooler, and took a picture by the tracks and september it to him. >> they turned out to be one of the older critters than the dinosaurs. >> and so you know, you walk around and breathe the air, and everything was fish, and when you think of nit that scale, it is pretty cool. >> and so a mile later jack turns from rancorteur to boat
master. >> go jack! go, jack! yeah. if it weren't for this train, they would have dammed the colorado, but he is still worried about the dam failures and the toxic mine leak that turned the near by aanimus rive orange. >> that is what you to is to take the denver water and that takes another 10%, and that is the kind of thing to kill this fervor forever.
if you are not a fisherman, it is good to know about the health of the fish, because they are an overall barometer of the health of the river. and we will get right to that bubble line right there. yep. beautiful. that is basically the fish buffet line. you just keep some tension on the rod. and sweet! >> sweet. oh. this is my first trout in, ah, man, it has to be 15 years. >> given the mercury levels in colorado trout these days, jack rarely eats out of the river anymore. catch and release is the norm. >> nicely done. >> all right. let's let him go. >> all right. put him back into the net.
and there is is karen. hi, karen. all right. and off he goes. sweet. >> thanks for adrenaline rush, my brother. >> the tongue is the drug, my friend. >> my old man would have loved the day, and of course, he would have loved it a lot more teaching this little girl how to cast a fly, the way he taught me. we lived in this mobile home, and it was along this beautiful river called the roaring fork river. that was the porch that we built together. >> is that you? >> that is me. that is me. i am too cool to like look into the camera and smile, so i am being sullen over by the side. ♪ going downtown
>> my girl was in diapers the last time i drove up the valley, and my how both have grown. ♪ it was saked to him this american ground ♪ >> oh, there is a whole foods and starbucks. oh, wow. >> you can't go home again the author's say. you can't step in the same river twice. man, are they right. ♪ this is the american way >> oh, it is gone. this is the lot right here. that's amazing. isn't it crazy how everything is so much smaller when you visit your childhood home? there are worse places to be a latchkey kid.
this is it. i would ride my inner tube down and float there and there was a big swimming hole right there full of trout, and i'd round the bend and hike back up, and do it again. all day. all day. and that clueless boy had no idea how precious the water is and how each drop gives so much life, and recycled so many times, and trickling through the farms and parks and animals and humans. >> so a single drop of water that starts way high in the rockies could be used 20 times? >> yes, through seven national parks, and through hundreds of thousands of square miles of land. >> singen is going to join u and he is a child of the river, and he is going to explain to us how
this tug of war first started. when they agreed to split the water equally with the desert e dwe dwellers downstream, and one problem, when they ti divvied it up, they grossly underestimated how much water the colorado actually holds. >> they based the calculation on the lowest level in history, and never to be in that level again. >> so they overpromised 5 billion gallons a year? >> yes, and that is what set up the tension of the upper basin and the lower basin. >> to meet the demand through floods and droughts, they decided to dam the colorado which changes the life of the river. to see how, we leave colorado and follow the water into utah, into one of my favorite spots on the planet, just in time for sunset.
and there's just one sound. you and us... together. telling the world... we're coming for you. and clean and real and inside jokes and school night. good, clean food pairs well with anything. try the clean pairings menu. at panera. food as it should be. i think when people hear about i think it's important for, everyone to know that there is so much more to memory support than the stigmas you hearabout. that these residents still have lives and their lives still matter and that they are still living their lives. that they're not locked away and that they still have a lot to live for, you know, that they have people that care about them and they have people that love them and i love them, so their lives still matter. that is what i do this for.
drove through the night, slept in the bed of the pickup truck, and the ranger station parking lot with no idea what was outside around us. and then dawn breaks. we peek out, and realize that you just woke on mars or in bedrock and the flintstones are coming over for brunch. with 60 pounds of water on our backs we would wander down limestone, arches and past gargoyles and goblins of rock. and we'd get lost in the changing light.
oh, my god. ooh. oh, my lord. look at that. back in my day, most explored the moab on foot, but to today, it is all about the wheels. cinjin is a local guide and he and a bicycle guide take me to the rim. >> i came here when i was about 15 years old, and after we were done, he was going to buy me my first beer as a man, and it is like one 7-eleven in moab and
now there are microbreweries. >> and it is the shaw mamy of the west. >> how did that happen? >> well, keeping it a backwoods experience is making it popular with the reblg rcreationalists. >> what is that for the greater good of the colorado? good or more protection >> well, certain ly, people are consuming more, but it does start to inspire a whole different category of people, and by extension when you love something, you want to take care of it. >> it is so easy to get caught on who owns so much of that river below us, so it is easy to forget that america set by the best real estate for we, the people, the national parks, and this sland our land, and this
land is your land and -- oh, crap! this one came first and then this one. that is not too bad. i don't know if it is a nice shade of purple tomorrow, and then that one. all things considered though, not too bad. ♪ >> sore, but happy, we roll through monument valley, ancient water and wind made this place. john wayne and "easy rider" and the griz walds made it famous. thanks to hollywood h, this is the old west. but just over the utah/arizona border stand ss a new monument the new west, carved by man to conquer water. >> look at that. >> up to 200 dams on this river,
glenn canyon is the biggest and for river huggers like john, it is the most hated. so if you have had super power, and legal dispensation, would you take glenn canyon dam down tomorro tomorrow? >> nature is going to do it anyway. >> built in 1960s to create a water savings account called lake powell, but now that booze cruising is perfectly nor pal, they will defend it. >> they will do anything to defend their playground, but they are going to lose it. >> and now, after 50 years of sediment gunking up the works around and the poor sandstone holding up the dam is crumbling so bad ily, we saw workers desperately bolting rock back into place.
>> if there is a 10-year supply because of the dam destruction, what do the 40 million people do? >> over there, you can see the bathtub ring, and the sharp relief of the red earth above, wow. look at that, it looks like chocolate-vanilla layer cake. there is an awful lot of vani a vanilla. the water line is almost 1,100 feet lower than it should be, and lake powell is half empty, and even the el nino water flow cannot replace what has been lost. so maybe someone can replace the dam with a new dam, like a place like this.
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♪ >> 20 years ago the average visitor spent an average of 17 minutes looking at the grand canyon. today, it is less than 7 minutes ash and no denying that we live with more people with shorter attention spans, and that is making it all of the harder for guys like dave to protect even america's most special places.
>> this year, i'm sure that we will hit 5 million, and it is the first time that we have hit 5 million visitors, and so it is crazy. >> now, does that number, and i guess that is good if you are running the amusement park, but if you are trying to protect a pristine fragile heritage site, does that number scare you are a little bit? >> it does. it does. >> but what scares him more is the uranium miners who want the drill down there, and the italian developers who want to build a 3 million square foot hotel and spa. >> and this is a mega resort saying we are going to be coming in here, and we are going to need waterb a they have not declared, but the most obvious is to drill a well, and to take the exact water below here that is coming into the seeps and spring
springs. >> that is char butte and across from there is another development. >> and another developer wants to build a complex on the other side to run a tram to bring 2 million people to one of the most beautiful spots in the navajo, and some would welcome the income, but for renee yellowhorse, it is a violation of all things natural. >> and so angry, because the people, my family is here, and they want to put a circus attraction into the grand canyon. >> i can imagine that if i grew up in a place like this and my family had been there for 10,000 years, just the sight of outsiders would make me angry. is are there such a thing as a good tourist?
as far as you are concerned? >> well, there are ways to work with nature. you can work with them, the the investors and whether they are are from scottsdale or china or india or whatever, and the grand canyon, if you can hike it, bike it, and run the river, run the river, and take your memories of the place and always leave it the way that you want the next generation's to see it. >> renae's sentiment is punctuated by a double rainbow, and a very good omen just in time to see the canyon and the river that made her in a whole new way. ♪
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>> to make a living down here, you are to be ans a stroll jer and high droll gist and restorer. >> and you have to think of when the ancestors came and looked at it and thought it was a little creek and then started to hike down it and had their minds blown. >> those spaniards called it rio colorado, red river, and though leche colorado would have worked as well. and then up pops a camp, some
parts are faster than the others. >> and you put thoint sidit on >> oh, so the blue to blue. >> and right here with the cross bars. >> oh, you get them both. oh, geez. you are my sacagawea. >> yes. >> and once we are settled the call of the conch answers the first lesson, nature's call. and so port-a-potties are a must. >> when another raft company comes down, do you wave? >> yes a wave and smile. >> and so they run a posh camp.
so this gentleman rode a boat all day, and then set up camp, and then baked a lasagna. >> at first, it was difficult for people to the relax. >> yes, i turned it on, because i prefer the light. >> clueless that the head lamps are only blind iing them from another river flamed by rock, the milky way. ♪ sweethearts be damned ♪ ♪ i'll be rowing until the day i die ♪ >> but as the days melt past, the people stopped setting up the tents, and just sleep between the stars and the sand. ♪ >> as the big muddy flows past, it changes us, just as surely as
it changed the rock around us. ♪ and the canyon grand ♪ singing this familiar refrain ♪ >> so what are the folks back home going to think when they see this? >> they are going to be totally shocked. my children especially. >> really? >> yes, because i have been afraid of heights. >> see what the river does to you? >> yes, it macks you crazy. ♪ [ laughter ] >> woo-hoo! >> and here we go into the unknown. ♪ eyes peeled for scorpions and r
rattlers, we explore the side canyons, and among the disrov i ris, this one stands out. >> there is some pick tpictogra there on the rock. >> and from the lost people, and right next to the pictographs, surveying marks. >> and this is part of the surveying operation, and they were going to put up more dams down here, too. >> and when the operation almost dammed the grand canyon, and if they were successful, everything that we saw on the trip would be underwater, and the side of the canyon would be a lakeside for the marina and still not enough water for the planet. and so do you think if somebody
i know what you're thiining, they all claim stuff like that. yeah, but some of them are stretching the truth a little bit. one claimed to be four times better. we said, four times better than who? they said, four times better than we used to be. wh-wh-wha? if you're four times better than you used to be and you're still not the best, your tagline should be, "not as rubbish as we were." (sighs) only verizon is the nation's most awarded wireless network ever. now get 20 gigs on 4 lines for $80 when you switch to the best network.
grand canyon walls still surround us, pu we have run out of water to raft. >> we have about a 15-minute ride are from here, and we are in some very shallow water. the river has dropped about a foot and half vertical. >> and since the water is so low and weak, they send a jet boat to the final leg of lake mead where the bathtub ring is much lower than lake powell. and it is so low that the valves of hoover dam are useless. they have had to use what amounts to a drain to suck what is from the bottom, and so from here it goes to hollywood and golf clubs in palm springs and to the sonoran desert.
and at the bottom, i meet two of the most powerful water managers. how do we feel about that? >> well, i think that it is a wakeup call. i do. >> and for 25 years pat mullroy controlled all of the water while jim ran denver water. >> when jim and i started, this is all full and we had conquered the colorado river. man had won the battle. in says, no, you didn't. nature took over, again. >> first, they agree that stopping population growth is impo impossible. so america has to grow smarter. >> people are going to come, and it is part of the constitution in this country that you can get to live where you want to live, but what we need to do is to nurture cities, and make them sma smart, and make them dense and make them less dependent on the
sprawl. >> pat paid homeowners to dig up the lawn and a way that vegas added more people by decreasing the the water by one-third. >> and we reuse 90% of the water. and if it hits an urban sewer system is, is it is going directly to the golf courses and the parks or it is coming out here, and then getting reused again. >> and this whole thing is like a train that is coming at you at 5 miles an hour. if you are hit, it is your own fault. we know it is coming, and we have to put in place the contingency plan, and the emergency response plan to get ahead of the water. >> and you have to stop saying, yes, we have a crisis, and it is your fault. i'm innocent, but it is your fault. if the system really crashes, it will be everybody's fault. >> "whiskey is for drinking, and water's for fighting." do you still believe it is true? >> maybe ten years ago i think it is true, but maybe now whiskey is for sitting across
the table and sitting with someone, and having a conversation that it can find collaborate solutions of how to deal with this problem. and so you are proposing that ranchers and farmers and everyone get liquored up. >> i would do it. >> and solve this problem. >> yes, that is a great first step. >> and now more than ever, i feel the need to inspire this great trip, and who up spired this show. my old man hated funerals, and only had one request in the will that i take his ashes and sprinkle them here, mount sopras and this is our mountain. we climbed a eed it a couple of when i was a boy. and so we died in the fall and there was snow, and so i had to
borrow his snowshoes to lay him to rest, and the whole time up, i was thinking, i wonder if he knew, if he could have imagined when he bought those snowshoes how i would be using them. i climbed along the left knife ridge there, and there's a big bowl of beautiful alpine lake. and it was a gift. and it was a gift of a request, because when you are grieving, you need something to do, and so it gave me something to do. and think about how lucky i was to have a dad like that. and now most people have a tombstone, but he gave me a
mountain. i was lucky, because my mom really loved me more than anything in the world, and you are lucky, because i love you more than anything in the world, and those two things are related. so if you love a river or a mountain or a lake, pass it on. it pigt just save us all. ♪ heading downtown, too much sound ♪ ♪ and too much sound ♪ it was sacred to him, american ground ♪ ♪ raise the flag in the palm of your hand and hear the call and heed the command sfoid and livi -- and living my life with the hand
on my heart, and living the life as an american man ♪ >> love you. >> love you. >> you, too. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com you are the president nobody wanted. in office by default. now you're the candidate nobody believes in. in a race you're expected to lose. do you have the guts? the political cunning? the sheer determination to prove your enemies wrong?