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Connecticut's United Voice for River Conservation

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River Advocacy, Environmental Publications Reading List

Nature-Themed Arts & Books

Books/Manuals     Graphic Arts     Sculpture/Pottery   Jewelry    Miscellaneous

Books / Manuals

(click here for alphabetical by title) 

Alphabetical by author

George Black.  The Trout Pool Paradox: The American Lives of Three Rivers (Houghton Mifflin, 2004, $24). The three rivers are the Housatonic, the Naugatuck and the Shepaug. This is a history by a man in love with rivers and fishing. Former U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd called the book "fascinating." The NY Times gave it an excellent review. The author is an expert in international affairs and in his spare time edits the Natural Resources Defense Council magazine On Earth. This is more than a local history; it is a narrative on how watersheds and rivers evolve and degrade and are saved (if they are saved).

Michael Dennis Browne (author) and Wendell Minor (illustrator). Give Her the River: A Father's Wish for his Daughter (Powell's Books, 2004, $15.95). Mr. Minor, one of the leading book illustrators in the U.S., donated a few copies of this book for a Rivers Alliance party, and they were claimed immediately by parents and grandparents. The cover shows a father and young daughter in a red canoe on a river; she is trailing her hand in the water. People familiar with Washington, Connecticut and environs will recognize many of the scenes. The text is a lyric tribute to a river in all times and seasons, a dream by a father of all he would give his daughter.

Michael Dennis Brown is a poet and librettist who has twice won the Minnesota Book Award for his collections of poetry for adults. His work has appeared in many magazines and anthologies. Give Her the River is his picture book debut.

Wendell Minor creates picture books inspired by the power and beauty of the natural world. His paintings appear in books including Into the Woods: John James Audubon Lives His Dream, by Roberty Burleigh; The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane; The Call of the Wild, by Jack London; and others. For more information about Wendell Minor's books and prints, visit www.minorart.com. Mr. Minor's books are available through independent book sellers, including The Hickory Stick Bookshop in Washington, CT. Rivers Alliance of Connecticut has a limited number of copies of Give Her the River; for information, call 860-361-9349.

Russ Cohen. Wild Plants I Have Known...and Eaten (Essex County Greenbelt Association, 2004, $16.95). Edible wild plants in Essex County, MA (and most of New England). Russ Cohen, with Massachusetts Riverways, is a prominent expert on edible wild plants. Yum. To order, go to ecga@ecga.org or call 978-768 -7241.

Richard Conniff. The Species Seekers: Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth (W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., 2011, $14.84) Richard Conniff's nonfiction work is anintriguing tale of adventure. Filled with biographical, historical, and scientific information, The Species Seekers tells of the naturalists and explorers who searched the Earth for new species. Conniff paints vibrant, detailed portraits of the individuals behind the extensive categorization of species which informs science today. Conniff reminds readers that natural history has not been static; these discoveries altered human understanding of life on Earth. Black-and-white illustrations complement the story. Richard Conniff lives in Old Lyme, CT where he is an avid paddler. In addition to his nine books, his work has appeared in the Smithsonian, National Geographic, and The New York Times. His book The Species Seekers is available through the publisher W.W. Norton and Company, Inc and on Amazon.

Tom Crider. A Nature Lover's Book of Quotations, with wood engravings by Thomas W. Nason (Birch Tree Publishing, 2000, $20.90, call 203-267-6851). This beautifully bound and produced volume is a fine gift for any lover of nature and language. Mr. Crider, who is the president of the Southbury Land Trust, is a writer widely recognized in Connecticut as a dedicated conservationist. He is also the author of Give Sorrow Words: A Father’s Passage Through Grief. His books are available through The Hickory Stick Bookshop in Washington Depot, House of Books in Kent, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other book sellers.

de Boer, Jelle Zeilinga. New Haven's Sentinels: The Art and Science of East Rock and West Rock (Wesleyan University Press, 2013, $30), a new book with photos by John Wareham. This beautifully produced volume is an excellent gift for anyone interested in Connecticut's unique geology, American landscape painting, local history, and good stories. The author is Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science Emeritus at Wesleyan, and, we are proud to say, a former director here at Rivers Alliance. His other books include Stories in Stone: How Geology Influenced Connecticut History and Culture (a great read) and, with Donald K. Sanders, Volcanoes in Human History: The Far-Reaching Effects of Major Eruptions, and Earthquakes in Human History: The Far-Reaching Effects of Seismic Disruptions.

Jared Diamond. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed: Revised Edition (Penguin, 2011, $18). This book examines both ancient and modern societies and the effects of ignoring the environment, using a multitude of sciences. 

Richard Louv. Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder (Algonquin Books, 2008, $14.95). Written by a child advocacy expert, this book explores the separation of today's ever more sedentary youth from nature. Louv points out that exposure to nature can even be a treatment for attention deficit disorder. This book was featured on WNPR's "Where We Live."

Thomas J. Maloney. Tidewaters of the Connecticut River, an Explorer's Guide to Hidden Coves and Marshes (Rivers End Press, 2001) discusses the river's natural history and a guide to paddling. The book provides canoe and kayak access points to 12 destinations described in detail.

James Grant MacBroom. The River Book (Connecticut Dept. of Energy & Environmental Protection, 1998, $20). This books reads like a textbook for an introductory course in river study.  Its informative chapters are well illustrated with photos, graphs, diagrams, charts, and tables. Knowledge of the five river sciences (hydrology, ecology, hydraulics, water quality, and fluvial morphology) is presented in seven chapters on surface water, channels and floodplains, stream ecology surface water quality and management, tidal rivers and marshes, human impact on rivers, and managing rivers. MacBroom and the publisher have done an excellent job of presenting what could by dry, technical material in an open format with clearly worded text. This successful combination provides the reader with an understanding of the science of rivers, a body of knowledge that, in other hands, could seem dense and arid.

Tim Palmer. Lifelines, The Case for River Conservation (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004, $26.95). This plain volume is one of our favorites. It reminds us of the central role of rivers to our lives and well being. This book is a must for anyone who wants to present cogent arguments (economic as well as ecological) for saving rivers.

Tim is an award-winning author of books about rivers, conservation, and adventure travel. He is a photographer of America’s natural landscapes and a dynamic speaker with inspiring slide shows about environmental topics. Here are two of his other books:

Rivers of America (Harry N. Abrams, 2006, $40) captures the beauty of rivers with 200 stunning photographs and four evocative essays.

Endangered Rivers and the Conservation Movement (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004, $37.95).

For more information about Tim Palmer, visit www.timpalmer.org.

Pearce, Fred. When the Rivers Run Dry: Water, The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-First Century (Beacon Press, 2007, $16). Mr. Pearce extensively researched our historical record of water management worldwide when small-scale solutions met the needs of a much smaller population. Then he details the disastrous consequences of our growing reliance on mega projects to redistribute available water to greatly expanded urban populations. He cites eye-opening data, not from manufacturing or household water consumption, but from volumes of water needed to grow what we eat and drink. (It takes 3,000 gallons of water to grow enough feed for a cow to make a quarter-pound hamburger, and 2,650 gallons to make a one-pound bag of coffee.) But these statistics are only an introduction to the catastrophic environmental results from worldwide mega projects damming and diverting the water needed to produce these crops. The ecological and cultural destruction resulting from these projects is only overshadowed by their colossal failure. Pearce cites hopeful alternatives all based on the premise that a river diverted or dammed becomes a river dying.

Sandra Postel and Brian Richter. Rivers for Life: Managing Water for People and Nature (Island Press, 2003, $24). In this examination of the poor status of rivers worldwide and what to do about it, the authors explain why the focus on minimum flows and water quality have done too little to restore the function and processes of rivers overall. Instead, the authors highlight three key elements, confirmed in recent research, that will improve river conservation and health. The first is the growing awareness of the importance of biological diversity and the value of natural ecosystem services (providing water supplies, food, water purification, waste treatment, flood and draught mitigation, nutrient delivery, habitat, and maintaining soil fertility). Extensive research has shown these services equal the global GNP. Secondly is the scientific consensus that restoring some degree of a river’s natural flow pattern (its hydrograph) is the best way to protect and restore a river’s health and functioning. And lastly, new models of decision making about river management can provide more inclusive, equitable, and ecologically sustainable outcomes. The authors then show why a limit on river alterations is not a barrier to economic advancement but rather a necessary ingredient for sustainable development. They conclude with a set of recommendations for implementing these ideas. Available at The Hickory Stick Bookshop.

Alex Prud'Homme. The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Freshwater in the Twenty-First Century (Scribner, 2012, $17 softcover, $30 hardcover) vividly portrays rising threats to the quantity and quality of freshwater around the world and possible solutions. The book was inspiration for Participant Media's documentary film "Last Call at the Oasis." The book is available from independent book stores as well as major booksellers. Alex Prud'Homme has written numerous magazine articles for major periodicals, including the New Yorker, Time, BusinessMonth, People, and Vanity Fair. His books include The Cell Game and Julia Child's memoir, My Life in France, which was used as inspiration for the Nora Ephrom film "Julie & Julia." For more information, visit www.alexprudhomme.com

James Gustave Speth. Red Sky at Morning: America and the Crisis of the Global Environment (Yale University Press, 2005, $21). In Connecticut, we know Gus Speth particularly as dean of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University. He is also an international leader on the environment; an advisor to presidents Carter and Clinton; founder and past president of the World Resources Institute; co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council; and winner of the prestigious Blue Planet Award. So what does he tell presidents (those who want to listen): "Red sky at morning, sailors take warning." We are into a red-sky global environmental crisis. The crisis may come in devastating crashes. This book gives us the data we need to understand our plight; it explains why and how our leaders have failed to respond to the crisis, and lays out the steps we must take to avoid catastrophe.  

Douglas M. Thompson. The Quest for the Golden Trout: Environmental Loss and America’s Iconic Fish

Review by Hugh Rogers..

intensely researched book, Mr. Thompson builds to conclusions that are anathema to many anglers. As you’ll see below, he acknowledges the controversy his conclusions incite.

The author, director of the Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment at Connecticut College, describes a history of river management aimed at perfecting conditions for improved trout fishing. With historical documentation and research, he demonstrates how these practices have achieved an artificially created fishing experience.

His controversial findings include: River restoration practices have produced rivers crippled by engineered structures, and fish stocking programs have caused the loss of native trout. Hatchery programs have failed in at least two other ways. First, 34 million pounds of fish pellets are required to produce 28 million pounds of trout, a large net loss of fish. Thus, we destroy ocean populations of menhaden, herring, and anchovies to create our ideal vision of a perfect trout stream. Secondly, trout hatcheries are major polluters. Six million pounds of excrement, uneaten food, dead/decaying fish and the medicine, antibiotics and disinfectants used to keep them growing, are flushed into surface waters, where they further degrade the streams that are stocked.

Mr. Thompson argues that the “pristine” experience of trout fishing, a hallowed Eden, has been created with a phalanx of smoke and mirrors. We are killing the two things we profess to cherish, streams and trout, to sustain an illusion. He concludes with science-based ideas to destructive practices. But his greatest gift is to question our assumption that what we are currently doing with fish and stream management is beneficial.

Going forward, Mr. Thompson advocates using this awareness to manage different rivers differently. Some would be preserves, where no angling is permitted, the forest is unlogged, and the river itself is managed for natural processes. Others would be established as “working” rivers, those that involve more recreation and management. Changes in fish management would also be driven by this new awareness. Namely, that regulations should limit the removal of native trout and also distinguish between native brook trout and non-native trout.

Editor’s Note: This book has provoked controversy in the pages of the NY Times and elsewhere. The counter case is that supporting trout fisheries stimulates a love of rivers and the outdoors that will save our streams and rivers in the long run. We invite responses. Incidentally, our reviewer, Hugh Rogers, is an expert and enthusiastic trout fisherman.                                             

Paul Tukey. The Organic Lawn Care Manual (Storey Publishing, 2007, $19.95). This is a fantastic book for rehabilitating once chemical-dependant lawns and for basic lawn maintenance. It features a forward by Nell Newman, president of Newman's Own Organics.cs.

John Waldman. Running Silver: Restoring Atlantic Rivers and Their Great Fish Migrations (Lyons Press, 2013, $28). Waldman begins by describing the phenomenon alluded to in the title, the incredible plenitude of early fish migrations on the East Coast, and then chronicles their steep decline through the industrial revolution, mostly due to dam construction. He calls on readers to “remember not to forget” these great numbers of fish that ran up our rivers not that long ago and details the concept of “shifting baselines,” a syndrome among fisheries scientists that has resulted in the gradual accommodation of the creeping disappearance of fish stocks. The public, too, through “intergenerational amnesia,” has forgotten the memory of these “ghost” fish, resulting in a loss of societal standing for them, so that their absence provides a sort of “permission” to continue adulterating rivers. The 80,000 dams in the U.S. have reduced spawning habitat for these diadromous fishes by 90%. Many of these dams are no longer useful and should be removed. Waldman also describes the total failure of multimillion-dollar, decades-old fish stocking programs and fish passage systems, and attempts to mitigate the effects of these dams. He finishes with a set of practical recommendations for action that urge us toward a new stewardship, the first of which is that “every dam should have an existential crisis.”


Donald Watson, FAIA, and Michele Adams, PE. Design for Flooding: Architecture, Landscape, and Urban Design for Resilience to Climate Change (John Wiley & Sons, 2011, 298 pps, $85) is an extraordinarily useful and well-written book for anyone interested in water patterns and water management in a changing world. The subtitle accurately indicates that the book is especially for architects, planners, landscapers, engineers, and others who work on water management in a time of climate change. But it is also a fascinating read and "look" (the illustrations are fabulous) for any person curious about water and land development. The book is unusual in stating in plain language the planetary importance of water, and then scoping down from the stratospheric view to different levels of exposition, down to the details of climate change and water-management design. 
Don Watson, a Connecticut resident and member of Rivers Alliance (we are proud to say), is former chair of the Yale School of Architecture Environmental Design Program, and former professor and dean of the School of Architecture at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Michele Adams, a water resources engineer, is founder of Meliora Environmental Design in Pennsylvania. 


Mathias Collins, Kevin Lucey, Beth Lambert, Jon Kachmar, James Turek, Eric Hutchins, Tim Purinton, and David Neils of the NOAA Restoration Center, New Hampshire Coastal Program, Massachusetts Riverways Program, Maine Coastal Program, and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. Stream Barrier Removal Monitoring Guide, available for download at http://gulfofmaine.org/streambarrierremoval. The guide provides a framework of critical monitoring parameters for use at dam and culvert removal sites in the Gulf of Maine watershed. When analyzed collectively, the eight parameters will allow restoration practitioners to document the physical, chemical, and biological effects of stream barrier removal. The guide is based on the input of more than 70 scientists, natural resource managers, engineers, consultants, and staff from non-governmental organizations in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. Final review was sought from experts in barrier removal monitoring from outside the Gulf of Maine region.

U.S. EPA Manuals

Under a cooperative agreement from EPA's Office of Wastewater Management and Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds, the Center for Watershed Protection has published a series of 11 manuals, which CWP has dubbed "Urban Subwatershed Restoration Manual Series." CWP states that the series is designed to provide a stronger foundation to assist local and state managers in crafting urban watershed restoration plans. The manuals were written to "organize the enormous amount of information needed to restore small urban watersheds into a format that can be easily accessed by watershed groups, municipal staff, environmental consultants and other users."

Each of these is approximately 100 pages long, and some also include a CD with software to enable data collection and storage.

The eleven manuals are:

1. An Integrated Framework to Restore Small Urban Watersheds

2. Methods to Develop Restoration Plans for Small Urban Watersheds

3. Storm Water Retrofit Practices

4. Stream Repair and Restoration Practices

5. Riparian Management Practices

6. Discharge Prevention Practices

7. Previous Area Management Practices

8. Pollution Source Control Practices

9. Municipal Practices and Programs

10. The Unified Stream Assessment: A User's Manual

11. The Unified Subwatershed and Site Reconnaissance: A User's Manual

The manuals can be downloaded from www.cwp.org.

Manual for Protecting Vernal Pools 

"Best Development Practices: Conserving Pool-Breeding Amphibians in Residential and Commercial Developments in the Northeastern United States"  is designed for local planners, preservationists, and builders. Vernal pools are small woodland wetlands that tend to have water in winter and spring and then dry up in summer. They are among the richest and most important wetlands in terms of biodiversity. Many vernal pools are too small to be protected by local wetlands ordinances, and local ordinances that do protect them tend not to also protect the adjacent land that is just as crucial to the pools' productivity. The manual was written by Michael W. Klemens, Ph.D., of the Metropolitan Conservation Alliance/Wildlife Conservation Society, and Aram J.K. Calhoun, Ph.D., of the Maine Audubon Society and the University of Maine. The manual is easy to read, contains useful full-color photos and illustrations and, most importantly, is a practical guide to be used locally.

Cheap software for nonprofits? The answer is TechSoup. The web address is www.techsoup.org. They have other technology resources, too.

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Rivers Alliance of Connecticut
PO Box 1797, 7 West Street 3rd Floor, Litchfield, CT 06759-1797
rivers@riversalliance.org, www.riversalliance.org