Leopold floats us to an understanding

  • Salt River, Arizona

    Dale E. Schicketanz
 


A View of the River





Luna B. Leopold. Harvard University Press, 1994. 298 pages. $39.95 plus $3.50 postage and shipping; Customer Service Dept., Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 02138 (800/448-2242).





Review by C.L. Rawlins





Anyone concerned with flowing water - river rats, lawyers, architects, irrigators, fly fishers and land managers - will learn to love this small, blue-backed book.


With photos and graphs which illuminate its course, and complete references, A View of the River will be an instant standard as a text. But tech-haters and poets shouldn't be turned away. There are a few equations (very few for this kind of book) and you don't have to know what ' means to reach an understanding. Luna Leopold's grave and rhythmic prose floats the reader on, and it will change forever the way you look at flowing water.


Streams are as various as the human personality, but there are definite themes and continuities, based on gravity and water and rock, which form the logic of this book. Since Leopold has achieved his understanding by observation, A View of the River is more a book of experience than of theory.


After his father, Aldo Leopold, died in 1948, while fighting a fire near his home, Luna, a Harvard doctoral student, edited his draft essays and saw them into print. The resulting book, A Sand County Almanac, is a touchstone.


Luna Leopold then pursued his own great work: to understand the marriage of streams and their landscapes. Starting as an engineer with the U.S. Geological Survey, he measured channels across the nation, slogging in waders with a tripod and level and building a formidable set of field data as he worked his way up to chief hydrologist.


Fluvial Processes in Geomorphology (1964) changed the practice of hydrology for good. Retiring from the USGS, he taught at Berkeley in the 1970s and studied urban watersheds. Water in Environmental Planning (written with Thomas Dunne in 1978) was another benchmark book. In all, Leopold headed up a quiet but complete revolution in his field.


Recently, he's been pressing the Forest Service to move hydrologists out of their offices, where they calculate the sizes of culverts needed for logging roads and drink too much coffee. Leopold would rather see them collect primary data on streamflows and the condition of channels, which is mostly lacking for the national forest system.


Seeing in ruined stream channels, excessive diversions, porkbarrel dams, silted fish habitat, and disastrous floods our nation's fundamental misunderstanding of how rivers act, he has distilled a life's painstaking work into one clear dram. Rather than addressing the front benches of hydrology, he's trying to pass his understanding to as many readers as possible, without watering it down. n


Chip Rawlins is HCN's poetry editor.





High Country News Classifieds
  • RURAL ACREAGE OUTSIDE SILVER CITY, NM
    Country living just minutes from town! 20 acres with great views makes a perfect spot for your custom home. Nice oaks and juniper. Cassie Carver,...
  • COMMUNICATIONS AND OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Communications and Outreach Associate Position Opening: www.westernlaw.org/communications-outreach-associate ************************************************* Location: Western U.S., ideally in one of WELC's existing office locations (Santa Fe or Taos, NM, Helena,...
  • OFFICE ADMINISTRATOR AND BOOKKEEPER
    Posted: July 19, 2021 Application deadline: August 27 or until position is filled. Western Colorado Alliance for Community Action is seeking a fulltime Office Administrator...
  • COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
    Posted: July 15, 2021 Application deadline: August 21, 2021 or until position is filled Western Colorado Alliance for Community Action is seeking three full time...
  • A FIVE STAR FOREST SETTING WITH SECLUSION AND SEPARATENESS
    This home is for a discerning buyer in search of a forest setting of premier seclusion & separateness. Surrounded on all sides by USFS land...
  • CARPENTER WANTED
    CARPENTER WANTED. Come to Ketchikan and check out the Rainforest on the coast, HIke the shorelines, hug the big trees, watch deer in the muskeg...
  • AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT EDITOR
    High Country News (HCN) seeks an audience editor to attract and acquire new audiences and deepen engagement with them - in our newsletters, on our...
  • COMMUNITY MARKETER
    High Country News (HCN) is looking for a Community Marketer to build and strengthen relationships between HCN and other organizations and individuals, with the aim...
  • FINANCE & OPERATIONS MANAGER
    Job Announcement: Finance and Operations Manager Announcement date: July 16, 2021 Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis and first review will begin: August...
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    Job Announcement: Development Director Announcement date: July 16, 2021 Applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis and first review will begin: August 9, 2021...
  • HECHO POLICY AND ADVOCACY MANAGER
    Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors (HECHO) was created in 2013 to help fulfill our duty to conserve and protect our public lands for...
  • HECHO NEW MEXICO SENIOR FIELD COORDINATOR
    Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors (HECHO) was created in 2013 to help fulfill our duty to conserve and protect our public lands for...
  • IDAHO STATE DIRECTOR
    The Wilderness Society is seeking a full time Idaho State Director who will preferably be based in Boise, Idaho. This position is part of our...
  • CAUCASIAN OVCHARKA PUPPIES
    Strong loyal companions. Ready to protect your family and property. Proven against wolves and grizzlies. Imported bloodlines. Well socialized.
  • DEPUTY DIRECTOR
    The Nature Conservancy in Alaska is dedicated to saving the lands and waters on which all life depends. For more than 30 years, TNC has...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY, CLIMATE AND ENERGY PROGRAM
    STAFF ATTORNEY POSITION OPENING https://westernlaw.org/career-opportunity-climate-energy-staff-attorney/ ************************************************** Position Title: Climate and Energy Program Staff Attorney Reports to: Climate and Energy Program Director Location: Helena, Montana; other...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY, WILDLANDS AND WILDLIFE PROGRAM
    STAFF ATTORNEY POSITION OPENING https://westernlaw.org/career-opportunity-wildlands-staff-attorney/ ************************************************** Position Title: Wildlands and Wildlife Program Staff Attorney Reports to: Wildlands and Wildlife Program Director Location: Portland or Eugene,...
  • DISCOUNT SOLAR PANELS
    New w/25 year warranty. Shipped anywhere in the lower 48. Minimum order of 10 units. Call, text or email for current prices. .50-.80/ watt
  • SWEET MOUNTAIN HOME
    3.8 acres in pine and fir forest on a year round creek. Custom home, 2x6 framing, radiant heat, wrap around decks and established berry patch....
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    "More Data, Less Digging" Find groundwater and reduce excavation costs!