Requiem for the Santa Cruz
An Environmental History of an Arizona River
Authored by an esteemed group of scientists, Requiem for the Santa Cruz thoroughly documents this river—the premier example of historic arroyo cutting during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when large floodflows cut down through unconsolidated valley fill to form deep channels in the major valleys of the American Southwest. Each chapter provides a unique opportunity to chronicle the arroyo legacy, evaluate its causes, and consider its aftermath. Using more than a collective century of observations and collections, the authors reconstruct the circumstances of the river’s entrenchment and the groundwater mining that ultimately killed the marshlands, a veritable mesquite forest, and a birdwatcher’s paradise.
Today, communities everywhere face this conundrum: do we manage ephemeral rivers through urban areas for flood control, or do we attempt to restore them to some previous state of perennial naturalness? Requiem for the Santa Cruz carefully explores the legacies of channel change, groundwater depletion, flood control, and nascent attempts at river restoration to give a long-term perspective on management of rivers in arid lands. Tied together by authors who have committed their life’s work to the study of aridland rivers, this book offers a touching and scientifically grounded requiem for the Santa Cruz and every southwestern river.
“The book crosscuts the disciplines of history, biology, floodplain policy, hydrology, geology, anthropology, and climatology. It could be a good read for experts in any of those disciplines, as well as water lawyers, floodplain managers, land-use planners, people who live along major rivers in the Southwest, bird watchers, armchair historians, and Tucsonans who want to know more about how things came to be.”—Julia Fonseca, Environmental Planning Manager for the Pima County Office of Sustainability and Conservation