Coyotes and Town Dogs, Susan Zakin, Penguin press
Although it was still politically powerful, the Bureau of Reclamation
was already becoming obsolete when Carter took office in 1976.
For one thing, most of the places that were suitable for big dams
had already been taken. For another, many of the Bureau of Reclamation's
water projects were funneling unoffrcial subsidies to the nation's
richest agribusinesses at the expense of the environment. The
western landscape bore the scars of a century's worth of engineers
working with blank checks and big ambitions. Ninety-nine percent
of Iowa's wetlands were gone, 90 percent of Nebraska's, 89 percent
of Illinois's, and 80 percent of Minnesota's. The Missouri bottomlands
had disappeared. Nine tenths of California's wetlands had been
eradicated, along with huge numbers of migratory birds. More than
90 percent of the woodlands along nvers and streams in the arid
West had been sacrificed to flood control or irrigation. The
Colorado Delta had turned into a bare, rubberylooking wasteland.
The cold, clear rivers of the Pacific Northwest had turned silty;
salmon were being mauled by dam turbines or giving up in exhaustion
after trying to negotiate the unfamiliar shoals of a nver turned
brown by erosion.
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