Saturday, January 19, 2008

The state of river restoration.

Elizabeth Suddith has the links--two Science pieces out last week that challenge the pseudoscience behind a lot of today's commodified, commercial river restoration scene.

These are good, but way late. The train left a long time ago, and millions of dollars are being misdirected. This illustration resembles a couple of river restoration projects I've visited lately, notably this one.

Seventeen years ago I sat in the office of a prominent academic fluvial geomorphologist who I was considering as a PhD advisor, and proposed a program focused on merging disciplines with a view towards river restoration, and warned the guy that this Rosgen thing was coming. His response was "You need to decide whether you want to be a fluvial geomorphologist or engineer or biologist.."

It's worse now than I imagined then. The same outfit getting mitigation money to "restore" a stream is filling a wetland to build a Wal-Mart over in the next watershed. I can't speak for all of them, but I suspect environmental ethics and sustainability are rarely discussed around the water cooler. Rosgen's methods have greased this mitigation money machine, and I'm not hopeful that we can turn that around soon.

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