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Nation on the verge of 'new era in modern river management'

July 10, 2003 -- As America celebrates the bicentennial of Lewis & Clark's epic journey up the untamed Missouri River, the nation finds itself on the verge of a new era in modern river management, one in which proponents of environmental protection and ecosystem restoration stand on equal footing with those of the hydropower, barge and boating industries. Lowry explores the dynamics behind efforts to restore rivers.

In a new book, Dam Politics: Restoring American Rivers (Georgetown University Press, 2003), noted environmental politics expert William R. Lowry explores the dynamics behind recent efforts to restore American river systems to a more pristine state, including detailed case studies of eight recent restoration attempts, such as the experimental return to seasonal water flows on the Colorado River and dam removals on the Kennebec and Neuse rivers.

"Building dams and taming rivers has been part of American culture for much of the nation's existence, but in the last few years we've seen a dramatic shift in public attitudes toward river management," said Lowry, author of several books on environmental policy and associate professor of political science in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.

"People now realize that dam removals and other river restoration projects are no longer the futile dreams of a few rabid ecologists," Lowry said. "Dams that once seemed invincible have fallen to public pressure and been removed. It's a trend that is bound to accelerate in coming years."

Lowry is not out to dismantle every lock and dam in America. He admits that many dams offer benefits that outweigh their adverse environmental impacts. At the same time, he argues that some of the nation's largest and most expensive dam projects were clearly ill-conceived and unnecessary from the start. It's a view that is slowly gaining acceptance, even among interest groups far outside traditional pro-environment circles. William Lowry
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Contact: Gerry Everding
gerry_everding@aismail.wustl.edu
314-935-6375
Washington University in St. Louis
16-Jul-2003


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