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In the Pacific Northwest, the Snake River and its wilderness tributaries were – as recently as a half century ago – some of the world's greatest salmon rivers. Now, due to four federal dams, the salmon population has dropped close to extinction. Steven Hawley, journalist and self-proclaimed "river rat," argues that the best hope for the Snake River lies in dam removal, a solution that pits the power companies and federal authorities against a collection of Indian tribes, farmers, fishermen, and river recreationists. The river's health, as he demonstrates, is closely connected to local economies, freshwater rights, and energy independence. Challenging the notion of hydropower as a cheap, green source of energy, Hawley depicts the efforts being made on behalf of salmon by a growing army of river warriors. Their message, persistent but disarmingly simple, is that all salmon need is water in their rivers and a clear way home.
Steven Hawley is an environmental journalist whose work has appeared in High Country News, National Fisherman, OnEarth, and Missoula Independent. He lives with his family along the Columbia River.
"[A] hopeful and blistering critique."
– Colleen Mondor, Booklist
"An impeccable history of salmon politics beautifully researched and told with humor, despair, and, always, heart and force and clarity. A must-read."
– Rick Bass, author of Winter: Notes from Montana
"After reading Hawley's very readable Recovering a Lost River, I'm more convinced than ever that U.S. and Canadian government policy toward salmon and steelhead is to extirpate these pesky critters as they are in the way of greedy development, unnecessary dams, illegal profiteering, toxic fish farms, and more useless hatcheries."
– Yvon Chouinard, owner, Patagonia, Inc.
"Hawley writes about the Columbia River Basin from every angle, talking to those whom other writers can't imagine or muster the courage to address. His style is surprisingly humorous for the subject, thought-provoking, truthful, and unpredictable. He gets it."
– Rebecca A. Miles, executive director, the Nez Perce tribe
"Though there are echoes of some extraordinary authors in Recovering a Lost River – Henry David Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, and Edward Abbey – Steven Hawley writes with his own distinctly twenty-first century voice about the inherent value of wild rivers and the environmental and social degradation caused by dams. Read it and learn – and act."
– Michael Baughman, author of A River Seen Right
"Thanks to Hawley's meticulous research, we now have a new gold standard for banditry and shameless deception in private industry, state governments, and in the very federal agencies charged with safeguarding the biological integrity of our natural world. God help us."
– Paul VanDevelder, author of Savages and Scoundrels: The Untold Story of America's Road to Empire through Indian Territory
"Very few writers have a sufficiently antic tone, an energetic enough intelligence, or a deep enough love to make enjoyable literature out of the ongoing federal crucifixion of the most important salmon river on this planet. Steven Hawley has found a perfect subject for his remarkable gifts."
– David James Duncan, author of The River Why
"Both troubling and encouraging, a well-told tale of environmental activism and citizen action."
– Kirkus Reviews
"Read Steven Hawley's book. Get out a map of America. Find this huge chunk of Idaho and eastern Oregon, through which a river named the Salmon winds, nearly all of it public lands that belong to us all. This is Noah's Ark for salmon. This time around Noah is us."
– Carl Pope, executive director, the Sierra Club