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Fields and Streams

Fields and Streams: Stream Restoration, Neoliberalism, and the Future of Environmental Science

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 184
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  • Book Info
    Fields and Streams
    Book Description:

    Examining the science of stream restoration, Rebecca Lave argues that the neoliberal emphasis on the privatization and commercialization of knowledge has fundamentally changed the way that science is funded, organized, and viewed in the United States.Stream restoration science and practice is in a startling state. The most widely respected expert in the field, Dave Rosgen, is a private consultant with relatively little formal scientific training. Since the mid-1990s, many academic and federal agency-based scientists have denounced Rosgen as a charlatan and a hack. Despite this, Rosgen's Natural Channel Design approach, classification system, and short-course series are not only accepted but are viewed as more legitimate than academically produced knowledge and training. Rosgen's methods are now promoted by federal agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, as well as by resource agencies in dozens of states.Drawing on the work of Pierre Bourdieu, Lave demonstrates that the primary cause of Rosgen's success is neither the method nor the man but is instead the assignment of a new legitimacy to scientific claims developed outside the academy, concurrent with academic scientists' decreasing ability to defend their turf. What is at stake in the Rosgen wars, argues Lave, is not just the ecological health of our rivers and streams but the very future of environmental science.

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-4474-4
    Subjects: Population Studies, Political Science, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-17)

    The basic premise of ecological restoration is that people can undo past anthropogenic environmental damage and contribute positively to the planet’s health (Jordan 2000). This idea’s tremendous appeal has made restoration a driving force in the environmental movement, an institutionalized commitment at all levels of American government, and a lucrative market. Stream restoration, in particular, has become a flagship for the restoration movement, linked to a range of issues from water quality to endangered species to recreation and drawing the lion’s share of public attention.

    Although the stream restoration field in the United States dates at least to the late...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Stream Restoration and Natural Channel Design
    (pp. 18-38)

    The Rosgen Wars are deeply substantive, so analyzing them requires a firm grasp on the basics of how streams work and why they are restored. Thus I offer here a brief primer on streams, why they have become degraded, what people hope to accomplish through stream restoration, and who is involved in the restoration process.

    Terrestrial restoration, particularly of forests and prairies, may be the oldest form of ecological restoration in the United States (Egan 1990; Hall 2005), and wetlands restoration may be the biggest market (Environmental Law Institute 2007), but, judging by the numbers of grassroots organizations, stream restoration...

  7. CHAPTER THREE The History of Stream Restoration and the Rise of Rosgen
    (pp. 39-54)

    With a basic understanding of how streams work and a grasp on the primary components of the Natural Channel Design approach, we can now jump into the stream restoration field and raise some key questions about the conflict that has convulsed it since the mid-1990s. Where did Dave Rosgen, the producer of these controversial knowledge claims, come from? How do he and his work relate to the longer history of the stream restoration field? How has their entrance into the field changed it? What does the broad adoption of Natural Channel Design look like in practice?

    I answer these questions...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Capital Conflicts
    (pp. 55-77)

    The simplest question about Natural Channel Design turns out to be the hardest to answer: does it work or not? Despite the fact that ncd has been in use since the mid-1980s, there is shockingly little solid evidence with which to answer that question. Instead, we have decades of claims and counterclaims. Critics have repeatedly raised a whole slate of objections to which ncd supporters respond with their own broken-record set of refutations. Critics argue that use of the ncd approach actually harms streams, while supporters say they use Rosgen’s restoration approach because it succeeds. They can’t both be right....

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Building a Base of Support
    (pp. 78-99)

    In the previous chapter we explored the intellectual substance of the Rosgen Wars. The inescapable conclusion was that while substantive questions are central to the Rosgen Wars, so too are power struggles over what kinds of capital should have primacy in the restoration field. The existence of the Rosgen Wars begs a more fundamental question, however: how did Rosgen manage to build a base of support strong enough to allow him to challenge the elite of the restoration field in the first place? Part of the answer lies in the day-to-day practices of the participants and institutions that make up...

  10. CHAPTER SIX The Political Economy of Stream Restoration
    (pp. 100-115)

    The preceding chapters analyzed the dramatic change in the internal power structure of the stream restoration field, revealed the accusations participants in the Rosgen Wars level against each other as simultaneous claims to truth and capital, and described how Rosgen’s production of knowledge claims and means of circulating them set the habitus for the field, enabling its daily practices and promoting the widespread application of his approach. In this chapter I analyze how broader political-economic relations have strengthened Rosgen’s position, simultaneously setting the conditions for and reinforcing his rise. I also examine how the production and circulation of ncd shape...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN Conclusions
    (pp. 116-126)

    The unusual state of the American stream restoration field raises some critical questions. First, why was Rosgen able to establish himself as the most scientifically legitimate expert in the stream restoration field — the primary trainer of practitioners and the developer of the most broadly accepted knowledge claims about how streams, and thus restoration projects, work — in the face of determined opposition from the scientific establishment? Second, why does that opposition exist, particularly given the lack of definitive evidence that the ncd approach is fundamentally flawed, and why has it persisted despite a consistent lack of results?

    As I...

  12. APPENDIX: Interview and Survey Metadata
    (pp. 127-134)
  13. NOTES
    (pp. 135-146)
    (pp. 147-158)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 159-170)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 171-172)