“This is a different river.”

I write about minnows in the Rio Grande, and smelt and salmon in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Richard White writes about salmon in the Columbia.

In all three cases, we’re discussing species-focused environmental efforts – to “save” the silvery minnow in the Rio Grande, or salmon and the delta smelt in California, or salmon in the Columbia. White, in his I-highly-recommend-it book “The Organic Machine”, makes a point that applies to all three situations. We’re fixated on species, but in a river system that’s been heavily remodeled:

If this were the old Columbia River System there should be salmon, but this is a different river. It is not the river salmon evolved in.

On Twitter this morning, southern New Mexico journalist Heath Haussamen commented on the water currently flowing through his community:

water in the desert, 21st century style

water in the desert, 21st century style

That irrigation canal is the Rio Grande.


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