Last fall, a decades-long debate over a dam project in Oregon was resolved when all parties agreed to tear down four dams along the Klamath River. Native American tribes, farmers, fishermen and conservation groups battled each other over access and control of scarce water supplies in the region. The American Society for Environmental History recently presented a case study about the controversy.
I was present at this plenary and found it to be a fascinating example of real progress among contending parties over a very contentious issue. Often, such contentious issues can seem impossible to overcome, but, as this example shows, progress is possible.
Not that everything is smooth-sailing from here on out, of course, but it's inspiring to see positive examples of democracy and empathy and communication in action.
Other sources on the Klamath River issue:
Oregon Public Broadcasting's Think Out Loud program, "Klamath River Drought," aired May 14, 2010.
Martin Goebel, "The Klamath Basin agreement: seizing a chance to move forward," Oregonian Jan. 18, 2010.
William Yardley, "Pacts Signed to Help River and Salmon," New York Times Feb. 18, 2010.
Yurok Tribe, Klamath River News.
p.s., at this rate I'll be done blogging the ASEH 2010 by about next January.