The River of Dreams: The Garrison Diversion, Environmental Politics, and the End of the Reclamation Era

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Paul Sabin
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The New Deal order ushered in hundreds of federal water projects across the American West. By the 1980s, however, the reclamation era had neared its end. North Dakota’s Garrison Diversion provides a case study to consider the American West’s changing relationship with water. This history explores how those closest to the natural environment, farmers and government ecologists, began to resist Garrison and traces how opposition arose, institutionalized, and professionalized. National environmental groups attached themselves to grassroots forces and provided the opposition with political and technical expertise, which allowed Garrison opponents to operate in the professionalized politics of the post-World War II era and helped democratize the decision-making process over Western land and water.