Title

Science, Public-Policy, and Western American Rivers

Document Type

Article

Subject Area(s)

Geography

Abstract

Effective science and well-informed public policy are the avenues to successful management of environmental resources. A critical review of geomorphology, hydrology, and public policy as employed in the management of the river resources of the western United States shows that the endeavours have been poorly connected to each other. Before about 1930, river management disregarded scientific input, while during the New Deal era federal support for river research stimulated a symbiotic relationship between science and policy. Renewed federal funding for research and the emergence of increasingly sophisticated theory and data for rivers during the 1950-1970 period enhanced the connection between science and public policy. In the post 1970 era of environmental protection and restricted research funding, hydrology and geomorphology have been slow to respond to policy needs for new scientific inputs. No longer centralized within a few groups and federal agencies, river research has become fragmented, and scientists have avoided politically sensitive policy issues.

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