• Use and Abuse of Southwestern Rivers: Historic Man - The Anglo

      Fireman, Bert; Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona (Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science, 1971-04-23)
      The exploitation of southwestern rivers is discussed in the context of American intrusion, acquisition and development of Arizona. The first Americans in the region were beaver trappers who quickly decimated the Sonoran beaver but otherwise wrought little environmental impact. Immediately following the acquisition of the region by the U.S. after the Mexican war, gold miners descended upon it from California. They quickly scarred hills and streams, diverting water for placers, building piles of ugly rubble and logging off entire forests. The large numbers of people and towns that followed created a need for more home grown food products and large storage dams were soon built. When these washed out the stored floodwaters did more sharp, tragic damage downstream than even the seasonal floods of the past. The common municipal practice of dumping raw sewage into waterways soon brought water pollution. Following the national reclamation act of 1902, large dams were soon built on major waterways and the multiple use projects came into existence. Today, even the Indians, in their quest for economic betterment are destroying natural waters. They have learned a major lesson from the whites---the rivers they used only for basic needs a century ago, may be more profitable if overused without regard for tomorrow.