Interviews with Christa
John Wesley Powell recognized inherent problems in our vision of settlement of the West more than a century ago, and his prescient ideas may help guide us into the future. Join author and river guide Christa Sadler as she discusses John Wesley Powell the man, the scientist, the explorer, and the visionary policy maker from her new book The Colorado, about the human relationship with the Colorado River Basin.
Although most people are familiar with John Wesley Powell as the intrepid one-armed Civil War veteran who became the first European to explore the canyons of the Colorado and Green Rivers in 1869 and again in 1871-72, it is the work that Powell did following his epic journeys for which he truly should be famous. Powell understood the challenges of life in a land of little water like few others of his time, and his ideas for settlement of this region were visionary. As water becomes scarcer and more precious in the West, Powell’s ideas may provide valuable guidance for water managers at all levels in the coming decades.
The Colorado River Basin is one of the driest river basins in the world, yet it has nonetheless birthed extraordinary landscapes and entire civilizations. The waters of this desert basin now support more than 40 million people—more than 10% of the country’s population depends in part or entirely on the waters of the Colorado River and its tributaries. The Colorado examines nine episodes in the history of our interaction with the Colorado River, from early prehistoric cultures to the Spanish explorations of the lower reaches of the river, the dam building frenzy of the early and middle 20th century, industrial agriculture and the current use of water throughout the region. This book provides important history and context to one of the country’s most important—and most endangered—watersheds.
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