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The Arid Landsby John Wesley Powell
Synopses & Reviews
John Wesley Powell's arid lands report was the first to argue that the American West could not support a conventional system of agriculture and that its lands could not sustain unlimited development. He recognized that water was a more precious resource than land, that rainfall could never support agriculture in the region, and that controlled irrigation offered the best use of its natural resources.
Years of drought have proved the value of his advice, which was not well received by an expansionist nation. Despite opposition from the timber, cattle, and mining industries, Powell's work led to the first assessments of the available water supplies and to the consolidation of government surveys and policies under one administration.
"One of the most significant and seminal books ever written about the West, . . . the classic statement of the terms on which the West could be peopled." Wallace Stegner
About the Author
John Wesley Powell (1834 - 1902) is best known for his expeditions to explore and map the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River. He was instrumental in the formation of the U.S. Geological Survey, which he headed for thirteen years, and is known as the father of the reclamation movement. The Arid Lands was originally published as Report on the Lands of the Arid Regions of the United States in 1878.
Wallace Stegner (1913 - 93) is the author of The Gathering of Zion and Mormon Country, both available in Bison Books editions. John Vernon is Distinguished Professor of English at Binghamton University and the author of ten books. His most recent novel, The Last Canyon, is the story of Powell's first trip down the Colorado River.
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