Restoring Colorado River Ecosystems
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6 x 9
Over the past century, humans have molded the Colorado River to serve their own needs, resulting in significant impacts to the river and its ecosystems. Today, many scientists, public officials, and citizens hope to restore some of the lost resources in portions of the river and its surrounding lands. Environmental restoration on the scale of the Colorado River basin is immensely challenging; in addition to an almost overwhelming array of technical difficulties, it is fraught with perplexing questions about the appropriate goals of restoration and the extent to which environmental restoration must be balanced against environmental changes designed to promote and sustain human economic development.
Restoring Colorado River Ecosystems explores the many questions and challenges surrounding the issue of large-scale restoration of the Colorado River basin, and of large-scale restoration in general. Robert W. Adler evaluates the relationships among the laws, policies, and institutions governing use and management of the Colorado River for human benefit and those designed to protect and restore the river and its environment. He examines and critiques the often challenging interactions among law, science, economics, and politics within which restoration efforts must operate. Ultimately, he suggests that a broad concept of “restoration” is needed to navigate those uncertain waters, and to strike an appropriate balance between human and environmental needs.
While the book is primarily about restoration of Colorado River ecosystems, it is also about uncertainty, conflict, competing values, and the nature, pace, and implications of environmental change. It is about our place in the natural environment, and whether there are limits to that presence we ought to respect. And it is about our responsibility to the ecosystems we live in and use.
"Like a skilled surgeon, Adler opens up the Colorado River to show what we have done to make it bleed and what it will take to restore some measure of ecological health. Without bluster or sentimentality, he explains just how challenging the job is, and he pulls no punches describing the technical, political, economic, and legal obstacles that lie in the way."
Joseph L. Sax, Professor, University of California, Berkeley, author of "Mountains Without Handrails"
"Robert Adler has the rare gift of writing with great clarity about topics of great complexity. Readers of the book will emerge as more realistic and pragmatic advocates for the well-being of human and natural communities, sharper and wiser thinkers, and better citizens. This book is a major contribution to the improvement of public discussion and understanding of this century's environmental circumstances."
Patty Limerick, faculty director and board chair of the Center of the American West, University of Colorado
"In Restoring Colorado River Ecosystems, Robert Adler has brought his orderly mind to bear on the vast complexities of the Colorado River. He asks, 'What are we willing to give back in order to recover what has been lost?' He answers with bold and reasoned judgments to pack in our river bags as we make our way downstream."
Stephen Trimble, author of "Lasting Light: 125 Years of Grand Canyon Photography"
"Robert Adler briskly takes us through the natural, human, and legal history of the Colorado River to build a convincing case that damage to animals, fish, plants, and aesthetics can be reversed. Rethinking how we use water and produce electrical power may be even harder than tearing down dams or rebuilding stretches of river channel."
David Getches, dean and Raphael J. Moses Professor of Natural Resources Law, University of Colorado Law School
"Revealing the deeper story, the author pulls it back together and lays it out as society's values-driven decision for the future."
Natural Areas Journal
Chapter 1. Introduction: Retaking Old Ground
Chapter 2. The Living Artery: Disruptions to the River's Linear Connections
Chapter 3. Only the Hills Will Know: Changes in the Watershed
Chapter 4. Tree of the People: Tree of Life
Chapter 5. Down the Great Unknown: Environmental Restoration in the Face of Scientific Uncertainty
Chapter 6. Casting of the Lots: Conflicting Methods and Goals in Environmental Restoration
Chapter 7. Ownership of Unownable Things: Property Rights and Environmental Restoration at the Water's Edge
Chapter 8. An Elusive and Indefinable Boundary: Restoration and Political Borders
Chapter 9.The Lovely and the Usable: Toward a More Holistic Approach to Restoration
Coda: Into New Dimensions