In the summer of 1991 Michael Burke, an experienced river guide, embarks on a three-week journey down a series of remote rivers in British Columbia. Leaving behind his pregnant wife, he embraces the perils of a voyage with a companion he barely knows in a raft that may not weather the trip. He attempts to reconcile the shifting fates of his life—his transition from river guide to husband, father, and academic. At the same time, he hopes to explore his connection to a distant relative, Sid Barrington, who was a champion “swiftwater pilot of the North” in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
As Burke contemplates what he and Sid may have had in common, he meditates on the changing meaning of rivers, and the impossibility of fully recovering the past. In clear and graceful prose, Burke blends Sid’s colorful history with his own uncommon journey. He also reflects upon the quick currents of time and the fierce passion he shares with Sid for the life of river running in Alaska and the west. Unlike most river-running books that often describe waterways in the lower forty-eight states, The Same River Twice introduces readers to rough, austere, and unfamiliar rivers in the northern wilderness. Burke has an intimate understanding of these remote, free-flowing rivers. He effectively captures the thrill of moving water, the spirit of rivers and river canyons, and the life of river guides. This insightful memoir brings readers into a confluence of rivers, where past and present merge, revealing the power of wilderness and the truth about changing course.
Dam removal was not a realistic option in the twentieth century, and people who suggested it were dismissed as radical dreamers. Over the past twenty years, dam removal has become increasingly common, with dozens of removals now taking place each year nationwide.
How did this happen? Same River Twice answers this question by telling the stories of three major Northwestern dam removals—the politics, people, hopes, and fears that shaped three rivers and their communities. Author Peter Brewitt begins each story with the dam’s construction, shows how its critics gained power, details the conflicts and controversies of removal, and explores the aftermath as the river re-established itself.
Each dam removal offers a unique case study. On the Elwha and Rogue Rivers, dam removal was a multi-decade political brawl; on the Sandy River it was swift and amicable. A key controversy in every case was the loss of the recreational lake created by the dam. Local communities loved their lakes and felt that they were natural, public spaces rather than industrial creations. They fought dam removal with passion and ingenuity. To be successful, dam removal advocates had to learn to weld together mega-coalitions that embraced most interest groups and moved forward together.
While the dams profiled here are all in the Pacific Northwest, dam removal is a national and international phenomenon, and Brewitt’s findings apply everywhere. Written for both a scholarly and a general audience, Same River Twice presents invaluable case studies for scholars of environmental politics, wildlife and public land professionals, environmental activists, and anyone interested in the intersection of politics, public policy, and dam removal.