Weaving together ecology, grassroots politics, and public policy, Philip Garone offers the first comprehensive environmental history of California's Great Central Valley, where freshwater and tidal wetlands once provided critical habitat for tens of millions of migratory waterfowl. His book tells how California's extensive wetlands were nearly obliterated by vast irrigation and reclamation projects but have been brought back from the brink by the organized efforts of duck hunters, whistle-blowing scientists, and a broad coalition of conservationists.
Garone examines the many demands that have been made on the valley's natural resources, especially by large-scale agriculture, and traces the unforeseen ecological consequences of this unrestrained manipulation of nature. On a broader scale, he investigates changing public and scientific attitudes that are now ushering in an era of unprecedented protection for wildlife and wetlands in California and the nation.
List of Illustrations
Part One. Wetlands and Waterfowl
1. The Nature of the Great Central Valley and the Pacific Flyway
Part Two. The Fall
2. From Native American Lands of Plenty to “Waste” Lands
3. The San Joaquin Valley: A Tale of Two Basins
4. Reclamation and Conservation in the Sacramento Valley
5. The Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta and the Central Valley Project’s Origins
Part Three. The Rise
6. Turning the Tide: Federal and State Responses to the Waterfowl Crisis
7. Battles for the Grasslands and the San Joaquin River
8. Conflicting Agendas: New Refuges and Water Projects for the San Joaquin Valley
9. Tragedy at Kesterson Reservoir
10. Wetlands Resurgent: The Central Valley in the Twenty-First Century
Epilogue: Global Climate Change and the Wetlands of the Great Central Valley
Appendix. Animals and Plants of the Central Valley Discussed in the Text
Philip Garone is Assistant Professor of History at California State University, Stanislaus.
"The Fall and Rise of the Wetlands of California's Great Central Valley should be an essential read for anyone seeking to understand the interplay of ecology and policy in the history of California's Central Valley [...] The book has a place alongside the standards of the field."
– Agricultural History
"Enlightening [...] [Garone's book] extend[s] our understanding of the complexities of water politics in California."
– Western Historical Quarterly
"Fascinating [...] An exceptional treatment of the history of wetlands in the Central Valley of California [...] This book will be accessible to a wide audience, is richly documented, and will be an invaluable resource."
– Quarterly Review Of Biology
"With masterful research, Garone illuminates the devastating effects imposed by intensive agricultural reclamation and irrigation in California."
"This book has four great virtues. It covers the entire Central Valley; it is exhaustively researched; it demonstrates a keen knowledge of environmental sciences as well as history; and it is not a simple tale of the abuse or decline of nature. It is a hopeful story, one that deserves a broad audience. It will appeal to specialists in grasslands and wildlife ecology as well as those in the law, history, politics, and public policy."
– Donald J. Pisani, author of Water and American Government: The Reclamation Bureau, National Water Policy, and the West, 1902-1935
"Everyone knows the Central Valley's reputation for big agriculture, but few realize it was once an extraordinary natural place – with rich wetlands, forests, waterfowl, elk, and fish. Phil Garone's fascinating new book fills a major gap in understanding this landscape at the heart of California. Breaking new ground, Garone weaves together the ecological history of the Central Valley with the human dreams and dramas that have utterly transformed it. This book is a must-read for anyone seeking to find a deeper sense of place in the Central Valley."
– Ann Vilesis, author of Discovering the Unknown Landscape: A History of America's Wetlands and Kitchen Literacy
"No part of California's natural landscape has experienced more profound change than the wetlands of the Great Central Valley. In this richly detailed study, Philip Garone offers a moving account of more than two centuries of human and ecological transformation. A cautionary and sometimes tragic tale of human endeavors in California's heartland, Garone's story is not only about loss and folly. Indeed, he presents readers with a more hopeful future for the state's wetlands as well as reasons why such a future is absolutely imperative for all of us. This is a stunning environmental history."
– David Igler, author of Industrial Cowboys: Miller & Lux and the Transformation of the Far West, 1850-1920
"Philip Garone has written an important and fascinating study of California's Central Valley wetlands. Garone's work is particularly notable for his careful attention to both historical and ecological complexity. While never overlooking the dramatic losses sustained by these ecosystems, Garone gives us reasons to hope in his analyses of restoration projects that transcend departmental and disciplinary boundaries."
– Nancy Langston, Editor-Elect, Environmental History