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River Advocacy, Environmental Publications Reading List

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Reading List

(alphabetical by author)

  • George Black.  The Trout Pool Paradox: The American Lives of Three Rivers (Houghton Mifflin, $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,  $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. Rivers Alliance of Connecticut has a limited number of copies of this book; for information, call 860-361-9349.

  • Russ Cohen. Wild Plants I Have Known...and Eaten (Essex County Greenbelt Association ($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.

  • 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.

  • 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, $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 Roxbury Land Trust, is a writer widely recognized in Connecticut as a dedicated conservationist.

  • de Boer, Jelle Zeilinga. New Haven's Sentinels: The Art and Science of East Rock and West Rock (Wesleyan University Press, $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, $18). This book examines both ancient and modern societies and the effects of ignoring the environment, using a multitude of sciences. 

  • Duncan, David James. My Story As Told By Water (Sierra Club Books, $13.50). This collection of 22 essays, a National Book Awards finalist, begins with Duncan's early experiences with the rivers of the Pacific Northwest and their endangered native salmon. It continues with essays on bird watching (as a blood sport); dams as obsolete river-altering tools that are more injurious than helpful; the absurdity of the 1872 Mining Act, which still governs hard-rock mining; and a sparkling essay on the nature of the state of wonder. Duncan, like the rivers he so loves, blends science, mysticism, poetry, and logic to skillfully establish the connection between our water-filled bodies and this water-covered planet.

  • Daniel C. Esty and Andrew S. Winston.  Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage (Yale, $27.50). This book was featured on WNPR's "Where We Live."

  • John Echeverria, Pope Barrow, and Richard Roos-Collins.  Rivers at Risk: Concerned Citizen's Guide To Hydropower (Island Press, $40). Environmentally responsible hydropower is an important issue for Rivers Alliance.

  • Ross Gelbspan. Boiling Point: How Politicians, Big Oil and Coal, Journalists and Activists are Fueling the Climate Crisis -- and What We Can Do to Avert Disaster (Basic Books, $13.95). This book was praised by Al Gore in a NY Times book revieww and is top ranked by one of our most ardent members. Former journalist Gelbspan is also the author of The Heat Is on: The Climate Crisis, the Cover-Up, the Prescription.

  • David H. Getches. Water Law in a Nutshell (West Publishing Co., $27). This book is part of the Nutshell Series. Environmental Law in a Nutshell, by Roger W. Findley, and Modern Public Land Law in a Nutshell, by Robert L. Glicksman, are two other titles from the series that are also pertinent to the issues we tackle at Rivers Alliance.

  • Craig R. Groves. Drafting a Conservation Blueprint: A Practitioner's Guide To Planning For Biodiversity (Island Press, $55). ((Book Review  by Richard Whiteford, Highlands Coalition). Drafting a Conservation Blueprint lays out a step-by-step planning process for conserving the biological diversity of entire regions. In an engaging and accessible style, Groves explains how to develop a regional conservation plan and offers experience-based guidance that brings together relevant information from the fields of ecology, conservation biology, planning, and policy. The book brings together a wide range of information about conservation planning that is grounded in both strong scientific foundation and in the realities of implementation. I highly recommend this book for everyone in the environmental field. 

  • Brendan and Nancy Hanrahan, editors, Great Day Trips series (Perry Heights Press). The idea for this outstanding series of books on natural history came to the Hanrahans when they were shopping in the store at the Department of Environmental Protection. They thought, "There are reams of wonderful information here. How can we get it to the public in an easily readable, easily usable form? The resulting series of books offers delights for the serious amateur scientist, as well great ideas for the harried parent looking for new ideas for family outings. The books thus far are Great Day Trips in the Connecticut Valley of the Dinosaurs (Road to Discovery Guides) ($19.95), Great Day Trips Connecticut's Critical Habitats ($19.95), Great Day Trips to Discover the Geology of Connecticut (Road to Discovery Guides) ($22.95), and Best Fishing Trips from Ponds to Pounding Surf ($22.95). The authors of the individual books are experts in their field, and the organization is outstanding. 

  • Paul Hawken. Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming (Viking, $6.31). Hawken describes a groundswell of activist groups working toward sustainability and environmental and social justice. 

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

  • Tim Palmer. Endangered Rivers and the Conservation Movement (Rowman & Littlefield, $29.96). The author is famous for his books on rivers, many gorgeously illustrated with his photographs. Lifelines, The Case for River Conservation (Rowman & Littlefield $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. Rivers of America (Harry N. Abrams $40) is Palmer's latest collection of photographs. Don Elder, the president of River Network, says, "This book is a remarkable celebration of America. In photographs and in words, Tim Palmer has captured the magic and value of rivers as nobody has ever done, and as nobody is ever likely to do again." For more information, visit www.timpalmer.org.

  • Pearce, Fred. When the Rivers Run Dry: Water, The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-First Century (Beacon Press, $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. 


  • Alex Prud'Homme. The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Freshwater in the Twenty-First Century (Scribner, 2011, $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

  • Robert Satter. Under the Gold Dome: An Insider's Look at the Connecticut Legislature (Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, $22.95). Judge Satter knows the law and the legislature from inside out. This book looks at history and process, with lots of illustrative anecdotes and plenty of humor. If you want to be taken seriously by legislators, take an hour or two to learn more about their world. The book received high marks from the Hartford Courant.  

  • James Gustave Speth. Red Sky at Morning: America and the Crisis of the Global Environment (Yale University Press, $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.  

  • Paul Tukey. The Organic Lawn Care Manual (Storey Publishing, $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.

  • 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. This is a great book.

    Don Watson, a Connecticut man 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. 



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.

Global Warming. Environment Northeast has published good reports on global warming, including three specifically for CT. Their website is www.env-ne.org. Click on Research Reports; you will be asked for some information before the reports come up. 

River Buffers Brochure

The Rivers Alliance brochure on the importance of river buffers is available in a new edition, funded by the Sweet Water Trust. Contributions welcome. For information on how to obtain copies, call 860-361-9349 or e-mail us at rivers@riversalliance.org

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

Environmental GIS Data for Connecticut

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has published "Environmental GIS Data for Connecticut," a set of 7 groundbreaking CDs that contain environmental Geographic Information System (GIS) based data for the entire state of Connecticut. Now users can have environmental GIS data for the state available at home, school, work or wherever their laptops take them. For anyone who uses environmental data in their day-to-day life, or for those looking to learn more about their state and environment, this CD set is an invaluable tool.

The CD set will allow a variety of users to create their own digital map of Connecticut that can display any number of features, including lake location and bathymetry, roads, aquifer protection areas, DEEP properties, airports, sewer service areas - even Legislative House and Senate Districts. This is but a sampling of the range of data contained in the CD set. This CD set allows the user to view any portion of Connecticut. It gives them the ability to zoom in for close-ups and systematically pan along any area of interest and print maps as needed.

The GIS data on the CD set is in ESRI shapefile format, which can be viewed using the free ArcExplorer mapping software that is also included on the CD set. The CDs also come with easy-to-understand instructions, as well as tutorial links to further enhance the user's ability to get the most out of this exhaustive collection of data and software. Also included with the CD set is the ability for the user to receive future GIS information updates at no extra charge.

The GIS data in the set was contributed by the CT DEEP, Office of Policy and Management, University of Connecticut, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and U.S. Geological Survey.

The CDs are available for purchase at the DEEP Store, 79 Elm Street, Hartford 06106. The cost is $29.95 per set, plus $7.65 for shipping and tax. Please make checks payable to DEEP. The DEEP Store is open from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday. The guide can also be purchased by phone at 860-424-3555 or online at http://www.dep.state.ct.us/store/index.htm.

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.

River Guide to Lower Connecticut River.  
Tidewaters of the Connecticut River, an Explorer's Guide to Hidden Coves and Marshes is the work of more than a dozen experts...discussing the river's natural history and a guide to paddling. The book provides canoe and kayak access points to each of 12 destinations described in detail. For more information, call 1-866-598-0158. Proceeds go to the CT River Watershed Council to benefit conservation and protection programs on the river. You can order the book from CTRW's online store at http://www.ctriver.org/shop/merchandise/index.html.

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