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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

Daniel P. Beard. Deadbeat Dams: Why We Should Abolish the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Tear Down Glen Canyon Dam (Johnson Books, 2015). America's water crisis is no more evident than in the West, where significant water problems are multiplying. Deadbeat Dams exposes the desperate need to change western water policies and reveals the utter waste of water resources, the squandering of billions of taxpayer dollars, the complete lack of common sense, and the widespread corruption that the author, a former commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, witnessed over a four-decade government career. He also details the faults of the present system of federally assisted water management efforts and provides an agenda for reform that can be used as a guide for a new generation of water reformers, to whom he dedicates the book. 

George Black.  The Trout Pool Paradox: The American Lives of Three Rivers (Houghton Mifflin, 2004). 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).

Cameron Chambers. Chasing Rumor: A Season Fly Fishing in Patagonia (Patagonia, 2015). The author describes his adventures in search of the mythical trout of Patagonia through his encounters with local characters, trout bums from North America, storied rivers, and the fish themselves. Traveling the region, in both Chile and Argentina, he chronicles the life of the guiding community, the state of conservation awareness and work, and, most interestingly, the nature of a quest for such an elusive grail as the mythical trout, what it can bring in experiences and in personal change and growth. From the first chapter, "And like Don Quixote, I traveled around, speaking Spanish and engaging in a series of follies notable for the experience more than the results they produced."

Richard Conniff. The Species Seekers: Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth (W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., 2011) 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, 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.

Amy Gulik (photographer) and Ray Troll (illustrator). Salmon in the Trees: Life in Alaska's Tongass Rainforest (Braided River, 2010). This book, which includes essays by many contributors and an audio CD, fully explores the ecosystem of the Tongass National Forest — its habitat, wildlife, and people.  Here, millions of wild salmon are the crucial link between the forest and the sea, and shape both animal and human lives. A visually stunning book, it gives shape and voice to one of North America's richest natural treasures. The combination of Gulick's photographs and engaging and informative essays by some of the people who know the Tongass best provides an introduction to one of the world's most intact and vibrant wildernesses, and an exhortation to see this extraordinary, publicly owned resource as a model for what it is: a rare and not-to-be-repeated opportunity to get it right. 

Richard Louv. Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder (Algonquin Books, 2008). 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). 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.

Wendell Minor (illustrator) and Michael Dennis Browne (author). Give Her the River: A Father's Wish for his Daughter (Powell's Books, 2004). 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.

Wendell Minor (website: www.minorart.com) 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.

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.

Tim Palmer. Lifelines, The Case for River Conservation (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004). 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) captures the beauty of rivers with 200 stunning photographs and four evocative essays.

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

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, Revised Edition, 2018). 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. 

Alex Prud'Homme. The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Freshwater in the Twenty-First Century (Scribner, 2012) 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

Douglas M. Thompson. The Quest for the Golden Trout: Environmental Loss and America’s Iconic Fish  (Upne University Press of New England, 2013) 

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. 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.                                              

Paul Tukey. The Organic Lawn Care Manual (Storey Publishing, 2007). 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). 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) 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