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The Weber River Basin : grass roots democracy and water development

Author: Richard W Sadler; Richard C Roberts
Publisher: Logan : Utah State University Press, 1994.
Edition/Format:   Print book : State or province government publication : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
The Weber River drains north and west out of the rugged Uinta Mountains through scenic northern Utah canyons to the Great Salt Lake. Along its tributaries and shores are dozens of small communities and the city of Ogden. Although a small river by some standards, not much more than a hundred miles long and delivering an annual average of a half million acre feet of water, the Weber, like other similar streams in the  Read more...
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Details

Genre/Form: History
Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Sadler, Richard W., 1940-
Weber River Basin.
Logan : Utah State University Press, 1994
(OCoLC)651815306
Material Type: Government publication, State or province government publication, Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Richard W Sadler; Richard C Roberts
ISBN: 0874211646 9780874211641
OCLC Number: 30112383
Description: x, 283 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Responsibility: Richard W. Sadler and Richard C. Roberts.

Abstract:

The Weber River drains north and west out of the rugged Uinta Mountains through scenic northern Utah canyons to the Great Salt Lake. Along its tributaries and shores are dozens of small communities and the city of Ogden. Although a small river by some standards, not much more than a hundred miles long and delivering an annual average of a half million acre feet of water, the Weber, like other similar streams in the arid West, has played an extremely important role in the ecology and history of the region. Crossing diverse ecological zones, the Weber supports biological variety in an area of environmental extremes. Native Americans and Anglo transients and settlers were drawn to it and passed along its banks. Meeting ground and site of conflict between hunters and traders from competing nations, arduous trail for migrating settlers, and route for the transcontinental railroad, the Weber watershed was the setting for many chapters in the history of the West. Authors Sadler and Roberts focus on how the Weber contributed to the settlement and development of a sizable portion of the Wasatch Front. Early Mormon settlers in Utah quickly turned to irrigation to sustain their farms on the edge of the Great Basin desert. In doing so they were attempting to manage and manipulate water resources on a scale that was unprecedented for citizens of the United States. Through grass roots efforts encouraged and at first partly directed by Mormon church leaders, they dug canals and constructed the works that would move water from streams to fields. State laws were written that recognized and legitimized practices that the farmers already employed. Fundamental to these laws were the prior appropriation doctrine and principles of broad local involvement in decision making and control of water. State legislation and federal policy in subsequent years adjusted to shifting patterns in the national political and economic climate, but these fundamentals remained. By the middle decades of the twentieth century, the federal government, in the form of the Bureau of Reclamation, began taking a more active role in water development, especially by constructing dams of a size beyond the means of local water users. Today, the Weber River provides water for farms and lawns and for recreation in five counties in northern Utah, some of which lie outside its basin. The Bureau of Reclamation has come under close scrutiny and criticism by recent scholars for policies of water diversion and exploitation that is imposed on the West, but the authors here conclude that the bureau came to the Weber River Basin at the urging and invitation of local citizens and that the impact of its construction projects was largely beneficial. It was thus one more indication of, and response to, the democratic impulse that shaped Weber River water development.

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