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Barker: Snake River ‘Idaho’s Sewer System’?

Richard Manning has made a career out of telling Western readers how the corporations on which many of us depend have reshaped our diets and our landscape.

Now he's writing about a river that runs through Idaho: the Snake.

Manning worked as a reporter in Twin Falls and Hailey before he went to Montana. His groundbreaking series showed how two companies were clear-cutting their stands of timber in Montana to prevent Wall Street raiders from buying them out. His book, "Last Stand," is a classic of environmental journalism.

Manning is a muckracker in the fine tradition of the Progressive Era outlined in Doris Kearns Goodwin's "The Bully Pulpit." Kearns Goodwin showed how Theodore Roosevelt's friendship with publisher Sam McClure spotlighted the role of money in politics and led to reforms.

It was Roosevelt's Reclamation Act, coincidentally, that laid the groundwork for turning the Snake River from a natural waterway into an engineered series of 23 reservoirs and for transforming the desert into an "irrigated Eden," to use historian Mark Fiege's phrase. More here. Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman.

Snake River: Irrigated Eden or Idaho's Sewer System?

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Cindy Hval
Cindy Hval is a freelance columnist for the Voices neighborhood sections. Her Front Porch column appears twice a month in the Thursday Voice.