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Bernard DeVoto, who never wrote a boring sentence.
Bernard DeVoto, who never wrote a boring sentence.

STUART UDALL (Interior Secretary)

  • "We live in a land of vanishing beauty, of increasing ugliness, and of an overall environment that is diminishing daily by pollution and noise and blight." The Quiet Crisis, 1963.
  • "Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife, are in fact plans to protect man."
  • “We’ve got to rethink the use of water. But if you think it’s [the drought] going to go away, the people that think well, we’re going to go back to a wet cycle, don’t bet on it.” December, 2003.

DANIEL B. LUTEN, JR. (geography professor)

  • "I suggest to you that moving water is more to be admired than used, that the primary purpose of water is to beautify the earth."
  • With kind permission from Guilford Press, two chapters are here presented: Energy & Water
PATTY LIMERICK (historian)
  • "The Bureau of Reclamation can only manage little droughts and little floods. When the big ones arrive, the system will fail."

WILLIAM M. LEWIS (limnology professor)

  • “Water in the West, although under intensive development for more than a century, is far from being a settled matter.”

HUNTER S. THOMPSON (journalist)

  • When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."

JOHN TRUDELL (Indian activist)

  • "When one lives in a society where people can no longer rely on the institutions to tell them the truth, the truth must come from culture and art."

SAM STEIGER (Arizona politician)

  • "What is clearly not in place is the willingness of politicians and public structures to confess error. Until they agree that they have made one of the most monumental blunders of this nation's reclamation history and that this emporer is indeed stark naked, we are locked into a guaranteed failure." March 6, 1983, Kingman Daily Miner.


  • In their efforts to provide a sufficiency of water where there was not one, men have resorted to every expedient from prayer to dynamite. The story of their efforts is, on the whole, one of pathos and tragedy, of a few successes and many failures."


  • "There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root."

RACHEL CARSON (biologist)

  • "The most alarming of all man's assaults upon the environment is the contamination of air, earth, rivers, and sea with dangerous and even lethal materials. This pollution is for the most part irrecoverable; the chain of evil it initiates not only in the world that must support life but in living tissues is for the most part irreversible. In this now universal contamination of the environment, chemicals are the sinister and little-recognized partners of radiation in changing the very nature of the world-the very nature of its life."

RAY LYMAN WILBUR (Secretary of Interior)

  • "Go to the sickbed; that's where the germs are."


  • "The world is not driven by greed. It's driven by envy."


  • "A river is more than an amenity, it is a treasure. It offers a necessity of life that must be rationed among those who have power over it"

LUNA LEOPOLD (hydrologist)

  • "Water is the most critical resource issue of our lifetime and our children's lifetime. The health of our waters is the principal measure of how we live on the land."
  • 1977 - A Reverence for Rivers. Leopold.

ALDO LEOPOLD (ecologist)

  • "A river or stream is a cycle of energy from sun to plants to insects to fish. It is a continuum broken only by humans."
  • "Having to squeeze the last drop of utility out of the land has the same desperate finality as having to chop up the furniture to keep warm."


  • "We don't have a right to ask whether we're going to succeed or not. The only question we have a right to ask is what's the right thing to do? What does this earth require of us if we want to continue to live on it?"

MARK TWAIN (writer)

  • "The trouble with the world is not that people know too little; it's that they know so many things that just aren't so."
  • "Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first."
  • "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness."

WILLIAM JENNINGS BRYAN (populist politician)

  • "Never be afraid to stand with the minority when the minority is right, for the minority which is right will one day be the majority."


  • "When all the rivers are used, when all the creeks in the ravines, when all the brooks, when all the springs are used, when all the reservoirs along the streams are used, when all the canyon waters are taken up, when all the wells are sunk, or dug that can be dug in all this arid region there is still not sufficient water to irrigate all this arid region."
  • "What matters it whether I am popular or not? I tell you, gentlemen, you are piling up a heritage of conflict and litigation over water rights, for there is not sufficient water to supply these lands."
  •  Congressional testimony, 1891: Ceding the Arid Lands to States & Territories. Powell & Dutton.

DONALD WORSTER (historian)

  • "Whatever terrain the environmental historian chooses to investigate, he has to address the age-old predicament of how humankind can feed itself without degrading the primal source of life. Today as ever, that problem is the fundamental challenge in human ecology, and meeting it will require knowing the earth well--knowing its history and knowing its limits."
  • "Let us assume that the next stage in the West will not be a mere continuation of the present. What then might we expect? What should we work for? Now no one could reliably prepare a detailed blueprint for a posthydraulic society. To do so would be to indulge in fantasy or utopianism, neither of which is much to be trusted. And it would be to substitute for the combined searchings of millions of people, generation following generation, the schemes and predictions of a single individual, which is not the way history is made. But one can confidently say that there are certain general strategies the West is going to have to pursue if it wants to find its way toward a more open, free, and democratic society. Those strategies must begin with a new relation to nature and a new technics"
  • "Reclamation ... is a technological stunt that, as the experience of other irrigation societies shows, cannot be indefinitely sustained. As the irrigation system approaches maximum efficiency, as rivers get moved around with more and more thorough, consummate skill, the system begins to grow increasingly vulnerable, subject to a thousand ills that eventually bring about its decline. Despite all efforts to save the system, it breaks down here, then there, then everywhere."
  • Epilogue (a vision statement). Book Review. Stroshane, 1988.

BERNARD DEVOTO (historian)

  • (In reference to John Wesley Powell's Report on the Lands of The Arid Region of the United States)  "...astonishing book, a book which of itself opened a new era in Western and in national thinking. It is one of the most remarkable books ever written by an American. In the whole range of American experience from Jamestown on there is no book more prophetic. It is a scientific prophecy and has been fulfilled--experimentally proved. Unhappily the experimental proof has consisted of human and social failure and the destruction of land. It is a document as basic as The Federalist but it is a tragic document. For it was published in 1878 and if we could have acted on it in full, incalculable loss would have been prevented and the United States would be happier and wealthier than it is. We did not even make an effective effort to act on it till 1902. Half a century after that beginning, we are still far short of catching up with it. The twist of the knife is that meanwhile irreversible actions went on out west and what we did in error will forever prevent us from catching up with it altogether"

PHILIP L. FRADKIN (journalist and historian)

  • "We ignore Stegner at our peril."

WALLACE STEGNER (creative writing professor)

  • "The West cannot carry what it has lifted. It will make heroic efforts, always in the direction of more grandiose engineering works, and in the end it will subside back to what it was meant to be, an oasis civilization with one great deficiency and all the advantages that would flow from it if we would scale down our demands on our resources." (LA Times OpEd, 1985)
  • "We need a Redeemer. We need a Congress that will say no to any more water boondoggles in the West. We need a moratorium on boosters and developers and raiders who can’t or won’t see the consequences of their acts. We need to scale down our expectations and advise a lot of hopeful immigrants that what they seek is not here." (LA Times OpEd, 1985).
  • Stegner's LA Times complete Op Ed
  • Stegner's Wilderness Letter (Geography of Hope).

WILL DURANT (historian)

  • "Civilization exists by geologic consent, subject to change without notice."

JOHN MCPHEE (science writer)

  • "If by some fiat I had to restrict all this writing to one sentence, this is the one I would choose: The summit of Mt. Everest is marine limestone."

HENRY "SCOOP" JACKSON (Washington senator)

  • "The Colorado River basin doesn't have a water scarcity problem, it has a planning and zoning problem."

BARRY GOLDWATER (Arizona senator)

  • "What have we done to this beautiful desert, to our wild rivers? All that dam building on the Colorado, across the West, was a big mistake. What in the world were we thinking?"

MARC REISNER (journalist)

  • "We set out to tame the rivers and ended up killing them. We set out to make the future of the American West secure; what we really did was make ourselves rich and our descendants insecure."

GARRETT HARDIN (ecologist)

  • "When an estuary that has served as a nursery for marine life and a haven for migratory birds for a million years is filled to serve as a site for factories, the resulting destruction is labeled "reclamation." If it were honestly named, the Bureau of Reclamation would be called the Bureau of Unprecedented and Unexamined Claims."
  • The Tragedy of the Commons. Hardin.

ROGER REVELLE (oceanographer & geophysicist)

  • "Planning and construction of major water-resource systems have a time constant of 30 to 50 years. ...the consequences of climate change within the next 50 to 100 years warrant careful consideration by planners of ways to create more robust and resilient water-resource systems...

HOLMES RALSTON III (philosopher)

  • "Humans neither can nor ought to de-nature their planet. ... On larger planetary scales it is better to build our cultures in intelligent harmony with the way the world is already built, rather than take control and rebuild this promising planet by ourselves and for ourselves. ... We do not want a de-natured life on a de-natured planet."


  • "We must welcome the future, remembering that soon it will be the past; and we must respect the past, remembering that it was once all that was humanly possible."


  • In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.


  • The only way ahead is to recognize the need for change and agree to promote the community over partisan tactical sabotage that delivers short-term gain at the expense of the long-term cooperation that protects ecosystems, delivers economic value, and supports communities.
  • Living with Water Scacity. David Zetland.


  • Climate change in the arid lands means the moisture from the clouds will be going into the soils and back into the sky, rather than into aquifers and rivers.


Dam Operations
Public Notices


Back of Beyond Books
Barbara Anne Morra Memorial
Canyon Country Rising Tide
Canyonlands Watershed Council
Celebrating the Grand Canyon
Center for Biological Diversity
Colorado River Connected
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Corey Allen Hale Memorial
Dive Into Democracy
Five Quail Books
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Going Solar
Great Basin Water Network
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Holiday River Expeditions
Las Vegas Water Defender
Living Rivers
New Belgium Brewing Company
O.A.R.S White Water Rafting
Paul Henderson Memorial
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River Runners for Wilderness
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Serena Supplee Gallery
Sheep Mountain Alliance
Steaming Bean Coffee Company
Tom Till Photography
Upper Colorado River Watershed Group
Upper Green River Network
Uranium Watch
Utah Rivers Council
Utah Tar Sands Resistance
Wabi Sabi
Waterkeeper Alliance

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