tv Water Wildlife of the Early American West CSPAN September 29, 2018 2:39pm-3:41pm EDT
we need to hang on to missouri. daughter takeand the train from st. louis to washington, d.c. to try and doingde lincoln they are the right thing, and lincoln says oh, you are quite a lady politician, aren't you? and he sends her on her way. [laughter] prof. sides: and there is another woman. ,e think this is a male story but there are all of these amazing when in that are starting -- amazing women that are starting to get recognized more and more in literature, i think. prof. woodworth: fremont is one of the most. prof. blackhawk: this has been a really productive conversation this morning. we look forward to the subsequent sessions, both certainly hereafter and throughout the day. can everyone join me in getting our panelists around applause? applause? of [applause] >> historians and a novelist
discussed the impact of the 19th century westward expansion on the water and wildlife of the early american west. they also talk about the role of women in the old west, and why it is important for female writers to tell their stories. this one-hour discussion was part of an aspen institute conference held in aspen, colorado. our topics over the next 50 relating too are land, water, and wildlife. the nexis between the unique ,estern geography and ecology with questions of american identity, ideology, american imagination. so much of our ideas of who we are as a people are still by the idea of the west, the reality of the west over the early history and
development of the west. and clearly, the western landscape, the floor and fauna and the topography -- the flora and fauna and the topography has soundly affected who we are as a people, even before the west was physically explored. the idea of the west was incredibly powerful in the american imagination, even great writers like thoreau wrote about the west. for him, the west might have been conquered, massachusetts as ,pposed -- have been concord massachusetts as opposed to boston, but many of the pivotal figures who actually wrote about the west directly, whether they were people like john viewer, leopold and others. we have heard a little bit about the concept of the frontier in american history, and there have
been many seminal books written about the power of the frontier or the idea of the frontier in american history. early reports, writers and intlers were about the west the context of this guy is bigger here, the stars are brighter, the horizons are broader. the animals are bigger, wilder, and fiercer. all of these things featured enormous lee in our -- featured ly in our early history and ideas of self sustenance and freedom. we have three terrific discussants to share ideas with you. two very distinguished and prolific historians, one focused especially on environmental history and policy, one focused especially on really the natural
history of the west, especially west, and also, i think very appropriately, a novelist. someone who writes beautiful fiction about the west. dan,th us, sarah and western historians, environmental historians, and molly,and oregonian -- and oregonian and a gifted writer about these themes. let me jump in and maybe with you, sarah, one of the physical features -- we have already heard something about it -- that sort of defines the west and still has incredible significance to the west is water. we have heard about how many of the made of americans -- the native americans lived along
watersheds and rivers, and the scarcity of water compared to the rest of the country had --rmous application and implications and still has implications. i wonder if you could give us a isse of how important water to our understanding of the west and the settlement of the west? sarah: sure. that is one thing a lot of easterners were not prepared to take into account, was that they traveled westward, particularly to settle, they were not paying attention to the lessons that many native peoples had already learned -- you better live where there is water, you better live within the carrying capacity of the water of a region, and what they were not very aware of is that there is quite a demarcation in terms of rainfall between a more burdened east and eight much more arid west -- a much more areas west.
is what said aridity defines the west, and it was john wesley powell who articulated what that demarcation line was. he was able to say that basically, it is the 100th meridian. the 100th meridian runs through central texas, kansas, oklahoma, the dakotas, and what that segregates is more rainfall to the east and the magic number for what is seemingly, wrongly called dry farming. but the magic number for being able to farm without urination is 28 inches of rain per year. the 100th east of meridian, that is what you get. and west of the 100th meridian, you don't. which means you cannot live in the west like you have lived in the east, and that will be a huge problem when you have things like the homestead act. and the homestead act is going
to try and convey land in the kinds of quantities that easterners were used to. in virginia, 160 acres seems like a very logical farm plot to be able to farm. that works really great if you do not have to your gate it. e it.ve to irrigat out in the west, trying to figure out how to hear a gate ate a 160 acreg ranch -- that is huge. you start with $2 million, and then you are down to $1 million. and it is too small to ranch, because you cannot run enough cows to make a living on that either. so what people starting to move from the east to the west had to confront with a real truth, a reorganization in their minds of how does one live successfully in this new place? it was going to take an understanding of how to deal with water.
the oneley powell was who tried to suggest a way to do this. out whathe laid congress called one of the most remarkable pieces of literature ever to come off the presses of the government printing office. i know that does not sound like it was calledbut a report on the land of the arid region of the united states, and i realized the title is pretty dry. [laughter] i couldn't sorry, resist. what he understood was exactly this, that we were going to do ourselves to failure -- to doom ourselves to failure in the settlement of the west if we tried to do it like the east, like we brought our eastern ways and ideas of agriculture to the west. he proposed an entirely different way of thinking about the west, and divided the west not into nice square states, but
what he called watershed commonwealth. the idea was you have to live where there is water and farm where there is water, which means nobody is going to live in nevada. and you have to be thoughtful and exercise good stewardship in order to be successful, otherwise we might have a colossal failure on our hands. at the idea that somehow there were limits to how we could settle the west did not go over well, as you can imagine, and he got hounded out of his government position and we are left dealing with the legacy of not enough water in all of the places we want to live. dan: we could spend hours talking about water, but that was fascinating. your most recent book is the american serengeti: the last big animals on the great plains, i think is the subtitle.
just tell us about that analogy of how, i mean -- we think lions and elephants and wildebeest and kudu. is that a fair analogy for the american west and the great plains? dan: well, i think it is. mr. gerson: i thought you did, so -- [laughter] dan: 10,000 years ago, we had a africaecise analog of and north america, and especially in the country east of the mountains. when we did have elephants, we haveammoths, and we did camels and all sorts of large hunting cats with large teeth, hunting cats and hunting hyenas, and mega fauna from 10,000 years back that was a very close inlog of what one would find
the serengeti national park inay, or in the masai mora south africa. some of those creatures, including the lions and the camels, and amazingly enough the horses, which 10,000 years ago -- 25%ed of about 25 t to 30% of the biomass of grazing animals in the midwest. by the way, if you did not realize that, horses evolved in north america, spread around the world, became extinct in north america 10,000 years ago, and survived elsewhere for us to return them, which is why they did so well here when we brought them back. but many of those animals, like the horses and camels, became extinct 10,000 years ago, and it is an altered american serengeti, but it would still be strikingly familiar to you if you were on a photographic safari in east africa. you would have bison sort of
playing the role of wildebeest. you would have wild dogs playing , gray wolves and red wolves playing the roles of wild dogs. coyotes playing the roles of jackals, pronghorn's replicating gazelles in africa. so we had this version of an american serengeti that survived down into the historic period, and this is the fauna of the american west that the earliest explorers, the spanish explorers coming up from the southwest and later, coming out of eastern america, people like lewis and clarke and john c fremont encountered. what i want to convey to you guys about this -- a couple of big elemental points about this
remarkable fauna, that at the time, in the 19 century, was thought of as one of the great marvels of the world. it was one of the great beast year is known anywhere -- s known anywhere on the globe. and while we tend to think of the country east of the rockies as flyover country, or if it is drive-through country, you do it at night so you do not have to experience the great plains -- in the 18th and 19th centuries, the great plains was where all the action was. when we think about the old west , those of us who were going to 's ranchll koch tomorrow, that portrayal will be of the great plains west. the great plains, if you think about it, was where the cattle drives were, where a bunch of lewis and clark's famous
explorations and encounters with animals like grizzly bears and it innumerable herds of bison were located. it was the place where many of the indian wars took place, and really configured later western american history, and one of the reasons the great plains was the location of all the action is because that is where the wildlife was. as mountains were thought of wildlife poor. lewis and clarke could not wait to get out of the rockies and back to the great plains, where they had abundant wildlife to harvest. so thinking of the west in that way -- we all know there were many wests. there still are. the pacific northwest, the desert southwest, the rocky mountain west, the great basin, the great plains -- that was all true in the 18th and 19th centuries as well, and the
actions that cause the tremendous abundance of animals that was almost unrivaled anywhere in the world, except for africa, was the primary reason. one of the things i want to do today -- i will do this and yield the floor, but i want to read you to quotes. -- you two quotes. these 19th-century accounts, as was displaying, are a great way to experience a time travel version of what it was like in those days. i want to read you a quote that was written in his journal by john james audubon, the most famous naturalist in america in the early 19th century. he had just written a book called the birds of america, and had toured europe promoting it. he comes back and decides to go west so he can write a book about the mammals of north america. he is on board a steam vessel named to the own mega. he is in what is now western
north dakota -- name to the -- named the omega. he is in what is now western dakota. we all make jokes about the dakotas. the dakotas in 1843 is where the action was. audubon is on the prow of this .essel, the omega "we passed some beautiful scenery and almost opposite had the pleasure of seeing five mountain rams, or big horns, on the sun it -- on the summit of a hill. we saw what were supposed to be three grizzly bears, but could not be sure. we saw a wolf attempting to climb a steep bank of clay, and on the opposite shore, another wolf was lying down, looking on us like a dog. i forgot to say that last evening, we saw a large herd of buffalo's with many calves among them. they were grazing quietly on a
fine bit of prairie. they stared and then started at supporting anner, beautiful picturesque view. we have seen many elks swimming the river. these animals are abundant beyond belief about, and if ever there was a country where wolves are so passingly abundant, it is the one we are now in." that is the account of two days on the missouri river in 1843. he closed that with a note to "i am so telling her excited, i can't go on." he was absolutely stunned by what he saw. a little later this morning, i will review the other quote that was written only 26 years later. you can form your own impressions. wow.erson: there is still extraordinary wildlife year. i was late for breakfast, i have
a pointing dog, a puppy, and we were walking behind the creek, and she went on point. i expected a grouse to flush, and a huge barrier lumbered out in front of us. -- a huge bear lumbered out in front of us and fortunately with the other way. i do not have that happen to me in too many mornings and washington, d.c. [laughter] mr. gerson: molly, like most great writers, there are certain themes or questions that occur andatedly in your works, you look at them from different angles, different perspectives, through different prisms. i was wondering if you could just share how some of those questions you keep returning to relate to the idea of the american west and the character we associate with the american west. molly: well, i guess in most of
my writing -- i am trying to fill in some of the missing stories, particularly of women in the west, but the reason i am interested in writing about the west at all relates to what sarah and dan have been talking about, the great plains. my dad wasa kid -- from texas, and when i was a kid we used to make these long car ks from oregon to texas to visit his family there. so i was addicted to cowboy novels at that time, because that is what my dad read as well. i and sitting in the back of the as, reading my cowboy novels we are driving across the landscape of those novels, nearly all of which were set in the great plains. not in the organ that i knew, or california, but -- not in the oregon that i knew, or the california at all, but in the great plains.
in one instance, i was reading a novel set on the green river in wyoming, and we were driving along the green river in wyoming. at a guess that experience critical time in my life -- i was probably 12, 13, 14 -- really is the now, as aerests writer, is to write the novels i haven't found on the library , the stories about the pacific northwest, which is a different west from the great particularly the eastern oregon landscape, which is very much like the great plains, actually, and writing about the stories of women in particular, because they are so nonexistent
and most of the cowboy novels i grew up reading. the other focus that i have in towriting is to try demythologizing the cowboy hero -- is to demythologize the cowboy hero. "shane," you may have seen the movie. shane is the quintessential cowboy hero. he comes into the valley, who knows what his history is, doesn't even have a last name, he saves us from the powers of evil. and he sacrifices himself to loneliness as he leaves the valley again. his job is to use his weapons and commit the violence that will save us from the bad guys. really youngare a
country, we don't have a big mythology to look back to. we don't have "beowulf." we don't have "king arthur." of europeanhistory americans moving into the west, so as a result our heroes, our who tell us heroes, who we are as a people, how we should conduct ourselves, what we should value. our euros are the mountain men, ,"e cowboys like "shane and a lot of my own writing is to shift that myth. we need a mythology. i'm not saying we should dump the cowboy myth. i want to shift it a little bit. i want to nudge it away from the darker side, the underbelly of that mythology, include the women, shows the heroism of
ordinary people, and that is what i'm turned to do in my fiction. that i'mt to add surprised, i think i'm the only novelist here, but maybe we , becauselude virginia it doesn't seem to me that fiction is the way most people experience western mythology, either in novels are in film. it is not by reading the books of the historians at this conference, i think, for most people in america. [laughter] they are learning about the west through the novels and the films, so it seems to me that it is important for that voice, the voice of people like me who are writing fiction but who are also , we are the ones who are
reading the historians first before we begin to translate mythology,he new i hope, of the west. me stay withlet you on this a little bit. before we had the picture of the up, but i will take you what strikes me. it's that so much of the myth of the west, that comes from them, yes, i think it is that one, i don't know, there are eight or nine men and i think there is a woman over your the wagon -- a woman over near the wagon. and i think that's typical of our ideas of the west and the mythology of the west. it is mountain men, it is cowboys, it is prospectors, and it is this wild, open, free, self-reliant world where people
repair their own wagons and guns and work with their own hands. and they don't have doctors. they don't have stores. they don't have churches, and typically they don't have women either, in much of what we see. so just talk for a minute, and you cannot jump in on this because obviously, there were and they had incredible, heroic, brave stories. do we have to wait for contemporary novelists like you, to tell the story of the western woman? well, i think women's stories have been ignored for so actualnd most of the women who lived in the west in those early days wrote diaries, journalsals, -- kept
come up later wrote memoirs. there was very little attention paid to that writing by historians. it was in later years, people like richard white and patricia americk, that tried to shed light on that private writing, because it was not the women that were writing histories of the west. and it wasn't until historians turned their attention to that private writing that women's stories began to bubble to the top. certainly were women, and my attention has mostly been on women in the later homesteading. . i was telling my tablemates just a little while ago that it is estimated that between an estimated 18% and 30% of all homestead claims were filed by women. but that would be in the 20th century, because in fact there were more homestead claims filed in the first 30 years, first 20 years of the 20th century than
wherever filed in the previous 50 years, that we think of as the settling of the west, the is really ariod 20th-century phenomenon, and up to a third of those homestead claims were filed by women. and women at a better rate of improving up on their claims than men did. host: what is different about homesteading and western settlement versus homesteading in the rest of the country? to add to the one point about why we don't have enough stories about women. there is a proverb, until the lines have their tails of hunting, they will always be told by the hunter. until you have women that are trained as academics and writers, who are writing novels,
who are writing histories, and of course the reality is people want to know about who they are, and where is my tractor the past -- my track through the past? it's one reason we see indian people getting degrees. more about see much native american history, the same as we have a civil rights movement, and we get more african-american history. so a lot of it has to do with who is asking the questions, and what kinds of questions they ask about the past. and certainly the homesteading question is a good one, in part because for people who are part of what west, you get is this sense of being .ble to start over much of what is in these test been used and reused since colonial settlement, so the
possibility is of land that has not been worked or has been is what creates opportunity for many in the west. of course, it is not vacant land by any means, and that is one of the unfortunate consequences of assumptionad act, an that the west was empty. it's not. it's full of people that it been living there for tens of thousands of years, as we saw in our discussion last night. but those people who do want to move to the west are nevertheless going to try to import what they know from the east when they moved to the west. so they bring non-native plants, non-native animals, and those the west.aptive to there adapted to the east, so it's often a frustrating fit and it creates a demand for water in the west that would be like that in the east only, we ain't got
it here. people love to have beautiful lawns. what do they plant as their lawns? kentucky bluegrass, so it's from kentucky. it really shouldn't be growing in phoenix. the you have to water the hacked out of it to make it grow in , i want tot my gosh lawn because that is somehow a marker of having established yourself. so i think that's one of the challenges as people moved to the west. dan, let's talk again about some of the iconic fauna. buffalo out giant in our lobby, and you referenced coyotes. tell us a little bit about the differing natural history of these two species. we almost exterminated the bison, and there was various mythologies about why they came close to being exterminated, and
i'd like his thoughts on that. we tried to hand, exterminate the coyotes, even inspired by mark twain and others, that they need to be eliminated. see a bear in't my backyard in washington dc, but i might see a coyote. so just tell us a little bit about those two classic, western species and their evolution. thatwell, to get to me tell you let something a colleges have shared with the rest of the world. sometimes will say that if you take a petri dish and put a species of and provide that bacteria with a source of food, provide a't regulatory second bacteria as a kind of a predator and simply
alone and have access to food in a petri dish, they will quickly eat the food until it is all gone, and then they will die. in other words, those bacteria get the kind of freedom that we had in the american west in the 19th century. lovene of the reasons we the american west, still today, i mean we are all entranced with the image of the old west, i think it's an idea of the whole american story of freedom of action. to build upell you, to an answer to your question, elliott, when we had completely unregulated freedom in the american west, and that all this wildlife that i give
you a sample loving john james 's description, we had between 20 million and 30 million bison, 15 million pronghorn's. after they went while following the pueblo revolt of 1680 in between 1 million and 3 million wild horses spreading across the west and re-occupying their old, evolutionary background. between half a million and one million gray wolves as keystone predators, about 50,000 grizzly i oftennd something tell groups of people when i speak about american serengeti, almost anybody has seen "the features" which leonardo dicaprio in this story
about the west in the 1850's and seeking revenge on companions who abandoned him, that story in the movie takes place in the high rockies. that story, in reality, took place in south dakota, and the reason it took place in south dakota is because where the grizzly bears were in the 19th century was out on the great plains, where the buffalo were, because they acted as scavengers of buffalo carcasses. so we had all this tremendous wildlife. as a mentioned earlier, one of the great marvels of the world, and it's probably where i got the idea of calling the great plains the american serengeti, many of the same people who pioneered the hunting safari in africa starting in the 1830's, ended up coming to the american great plains in conducting these rightsafari hunt'ss,
through the 1870's. so given complete freedom to do what we wished with these animals, what we did was essentially obliterate every single one of them. by the end of the 19th century, we had about 1000 bison left in from what only 100 years before had probably been 30 million. leftd 13,000 pronghorns out of what had been 50 million. we had only a few hundred grizzly bears, now driven into the mountains, as were the elk, which had also been great plains animals. gene toing the selfish work on the american frontier essentially resulted in the obliteration of this great wildlife that we had. i mean, we reduced gray wolves
to the point that by the 1920's we had even killed them in glacier national park and in yellowstone. one story i tell in american serengeti is about a i lived for 20 years or so, montana, that used up two thirds of its territorial budget in the 1880's paying bounties to kill wolves and coyotes. montana was890's, about 30,000 wolves a year and about 30,000 coyotes. this will get to the explanation of your question. montana paid bounty on 17 gray wolves and 30,000 coyotes. in other words, the number of wolves had diminished to a fraction, only a tiny remnant. coyote numbers were still where they had been.
the 20th beginning of century, people who are observing the west realized that we pushed all these animals to the brink of extinction, and somehow we have not been able to eradicate coyotes. the greatmpson seton, canadian history writer who ended up settling in santa fe, wrote a story in "scribners" magazine in 1900, to explain why coyotes survived this slaughterhouse. ad he argued that tito, little female pop that had been captured and chained in a rancher's yard, had observed all the stratagems ranchers used to kill coyotes. finds alater escapes, mate in the wild, and then teaches her pops all the things that humans were doing to try to wipe them out. seton argues at the end of that
essay that, you basically realize who tito is, she is moses, she is the coyote version of moses, raised among the egyptians, learning all their then leading her people to liberation. [laughter] ecologists realized there was another explanation, that coyotes coevolved against rape -- coevolved along with gray wolves, and when gray wolves were gone and humans replaced harassers, as their they survived everything that we could throw at them, and we threw a lot. we tried to exterminate them. and the last question before i open it to all of you, although i could spend all day talking to each of you,
one of the ideas that his animated american intellectual history is the idea of the man",er, "go west, young ways heard, ande maybe it should become west, young woman. but you live in oregon, and we don't have a frontier anymore, you our as far west as you can go. what do you think are the implications of no longer having a frontier, no longer having a place to go closer to the sunset, settling the land, and has in your mind affected either american history politics, or sort of the psyche of people? so many people move to portland or seattle or to san francisco for a new start, and at one point it really was the frontier almostn, but now it is
like the east coast, do you know what i mean? mean, i do know what you and i think that the dream state of the west still exist. when i was teaching literature of the american west at portland state, i had students who had come to portland to go to college from the east coast, they were from the east coast, who said in taking my class on the literature of the west, i came west because i thought out there i could be who i want to be, i could experience freedom and independence, that the west now still holds that kind of place in our mentality, as the place where one can be free and independent. and of course then, there is disappointment which relates
back again to the homestead movement, when all these people who came out and homesteaded in the early 1910s, 95% of them failed. add the whole history of the west is a history of butppointment and failure, that hasn't made it into the story that we all tell ourselves about the west. it is still a mythical story about freedom and independence hero.he cowboy host: thank you. let me open it to the audience. we need to wait for microphones. intrigued byas your comment about the percentage of women in the homestead area. and i was intrigued by elliott's point that nine out of 10 men so can you give us
younse of the early -- can give us an idea of the senses, the numbers of women in the early days up to the homestead basis? a percentage my own experience in the homestead movement was later, but my own experiences that women came west for different reasons than men did. these women who filed claims on a homestead came out because they were looking for a way to make a living that was not as a housekeeper, as a cook, they didn't want to be married, maybe. known history of now about people who came out escaping from bad marriages,
women who came out who were lesbians who came out together and homesteaded together. women came out because they auld file a claim on homestead, improve up on it and then sell out that claim in order to have a grub stake to do something else in the west. so those women who were weree-women homesteaders not always single, either. they filed on a claim next door to the claim of the mandarin going to be married to, -- claim of the man they were going to be married to, because you would only file a claim if you are single, so you would build a cabin on the property, right on the property line with the man you were going to marry, go ahead and get married, and then the two cabins are next door to each other and you help each other improve up on the land.
so there was a lot of that going on. but there were a lot of women who stayed single who wanted to be single, who filed on these claims. story ofonder if the women in the west, maybe the injustice or lack of representation is exacerbated by the fact that in so many films and popular histories, women you do hear about our saloon keepers. molly: that's exactly right. the novel i wrote, "the jumpoff single-womanout a homesteader. i was working on that novel in the early to mid-1980's, and i had been reading the literature life, west my whole since i was 10 years old, and nonfiction about the west as well. and in all that time i had not come upon a single example of a single-woman homesteader,
neither in the fiction nor in the histories. so when i began that novel, i wasn't sure if i was making it up there it i thought there was no such thing as a single-woman when i was, and was doing research for that that i'm covered all the stories of women who have homesteaded, but they were not present in the fiction. here we go again with the importance of fiction. they were not present in the fiction and there were hardly mentioned at all in the histories, where i found their stories in the regional histories that you would find, small, you go to a historical society and a small town in the west, and they always have a regional history that some native son has put together, basically the story of everybody who ever lived in that county, and there you would find stories about the single-women homesteaders, but not in the
larger histories of the west, and not in the fiction of the west. host: the gentleman two rows back? my comments are sparked by comments about the hugh glass story and the fauna that audubon saw. a book called "our natural history," in which he follows the trails of lewis and clarke and uses their notes to estimate the density of animals. in terms of grizzly bears, he would stand up on the bank and try to see what they saw and how many bears they saw in various places, and estimates that there were about four grizzly bears per 100 miles along the lewis and clark trail through the planes. -- through the central plains.
and of course they get to three and an animal is running away because it has been shot at. today my question is prefaced by have recoverede grizzly bears in the greater yellowstone to about four per 100 square miles. and yet, we won't delist them. wondering to what extent the mythology about fauna in the american west affects policy today. them, if youered will, they are in the wrong place compared to lewis and clark, but this mythology, this serengeti vision of the west, does it enter into policy in a way that doesn't allow us to make what might be called rational choices based on history, as to whether bears, for example, are endangered or not?
we have a debate going on now about delisting bears and turning management from the fish and wildlife service of the federal government back over to the states. and if that happens, it will be done the way it has been done with wolves in the northern rock is, not in the southwest because the mexican wolf has not recovered to sufficiently -- recovered sufficiently to delist. but we did that with wolves in the northern rockies about five or six years ago and turned management over to idaho, wyoming and montana, all three of which immediately instituted hunting seasons on gray wolves. the last two years i was in montana before i moved down to santa fe, essentially every time i would go into a sporting goods store, i would have somebody as i checked out try to sell me a wolf tag, because we had a six-month-long season on gray wolves in montana, and that is the discussion of what we will
do with grizzly bears as well. there are plenty of people in the northern rockies who are salivating at the idea there is going to be a hunting season. and idaho and wyoming have immediately said that if the listing happens, we are going to .reate hunting seasons montana in this instance has stepped back to say, we are going to wait and see what happens. respond to your point, how has the mythology of the west affected the way we are thinking of wildlife management today, i think it obviously plays a central role because, just in the statement i made about hunters who can't wait to replicate teddy roosevelt in north dakota, shooting grizzly bears in the 1880's, people are very anxious to do this. but another way it manifests
itself is in the form of an inanization that is also montana called the american prairie reserve. if you have not heard about the american prairie reserve, this organization is out there and what it is trying to do is to redress the historical mistake many of us think happened, in terms of preserving some semblance of the american serengeti on the great plains. wheree if you think about public lands ended up and our national parks ended up, particularl parks like yellowstone with large national animal populations, they all ended up in the rockies, or the cascades, or the sierra nevada. in the place where all the animals were, the great plains, ended up with virtually no large game parks at all. we have two or three large national parks on the great
plains -- two or three national parks on the great plains that are quite small. we try to get one or two back in the 1930's but were never able to pull it off. so american prairie reserve is attempting to create what will ultimately be a part or preserve on the great plains of central that they hope will be almost twice the size of yellowstone national park. yellowstone's 2.2 million acres. they are thinking of something like 3.5 million to 3.8 million acres, were not just bison get recovered in large numbers, but wildso allow wild horses, horses that were there in the 19th century and ended up being slaughtered for pet food in the y 20th century, and also wolves and grizzlies can become part of this natural, ecological mix. and they are heartened by the
fact that every spring now, grizzly bears as they emerge from hibernation, their instinct is to go out on the great lanes. and they have gotten as far out east of the0 miles rockies. and last spring they got within 50 miles of where the american prairie reserve is trying to combine private and public land into this big conservation program. and as soon as they find buffalo there, there will be a drizzly bear population out on the central plains. that is obvious he colored by this romance the people have of reading accounts by lewis and clark, john james audubon and others who wrote about this grand, eloquent expression of the natural world and the american west, on the great plains. sarah, this week on npr here in aspen, we have been talking
about water, water rights and what is happening with water. today they focused on zero so they in tucson, finally recognized that you don't take grass, and there were talking about artificial grass if you have to have grass, you can use the artificial kind. and the guys doing very well, his business, so that's another thought that is possible. lastlso going to say that times" in "the new york was a major article on ecology, water shortage, the whole condition of where we are ecologically, and the warming of that we should have done something's 30 years ago. it's depressing. in that article, it is mentioned that the colorado river will be down to a trickle in 30 or 40
years, at the rate we are going. yesterday on npr i heard, and i note you are from utah, that utah wants to put in a pipeline to tap into the colorado river. would you like to comment on that? [laughter] >> we are going to cancel the next three sessions. [laughter] let's start here. climate changes water change. for theou have seen past few years in colorado, as we have seen throughout the interior west, as we experience this climate change that in colorado has caused a two degree to three debris rising temperatures, much greater than atwhere else, we are looking the consequences of lower snowpack runoff, all of that. and the colorado river in
particular, is the lifeline of the american west. and you have seven states that are dependent on it. and i'm getting the hook. host: no, you're not. the problem is that as europeans,here we came with this idea that was different from the east. in the east you had english common law, which allowed common access to the water. in the west, we had prior appropriation, first in time, first in right, which means if i get there first, to hack with everyone else downstream. and the sense that, i have to use it or lose it, has dictated the strategy of grabbing as much water as you can get, rather than focusing on conservation.
so it should not surprise us that utah is proposing this .reat typing scheme many states and on similar proposals because they are trying to get as much of their shares they can, especially states,per basin colorado, wyoming, utah, new mexico, and it is the lower basin states, particularly california, that sucked it all up. so we want hours before they get theirs, and that is just not going to work. when we allocated the river in 1922 in something called the colorado river compact, we allocated a that didn't really exist, has never really existed. the amount of water we allocated has almost never really existed, and as climate change and drought has diminished the supply of the river extensively,
those figures have gotten more unrealistic. but you have california, where agricultural industries drive areentire economy, and they not willing to negotiate a lot on water. we are going to have to talk about reallocation. said, whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting. you haven't seen anything yet until we talk about how to allocate that. but you are right, the colorado river is in many ways the barometer of our water situation in the west, and the barometer is bottoming out. i'm happy to talk about that for the next three or four hours. be thehere will opportunity to continue to talk about among all of our tables, but we can't right now. dan,ld like to thank sara, mali, for wonderful conversation. at 8:00 p.m. eastern
on lectures in history, brandeis university professor abigail about talks african-americans during reconstruction. sunday at 4:00 p.m. eastern on el, a 1919 film about the lead up to world war i and a unit from new york who ran out of water and food after they surrounded -- after they were surrounded by german forces. sunday at 6:00 p.m. on american artifacts, a visit to a site in virginia where women worked as nurses and aided in-freed slaves. and at 8:00 p.m. on the presidency, a look at how first ladies have influenced political and cultural times through fashion. american history tv, this weekend on c-span3. to retiring members
of congress, republican bill shuster of pennsylvania and democratic congressman luis gutierrez of illinois, talking about their experience in congress. and coming to the end of my term in my leadership position, and that was a driving force, and i thought to myself, playing sports in high school when you are on the starting team and they put you on the bench, it's not much fun so i decided to leave and make room for new members. people onlot of great the committee and i don't have any doubt someone will replace me and continue to do good work. >> i've been here 26 years in the congress of the united states. believe, and i think the last couple of weeks are demonstrative of that, that i have helped create an immigrant movement in the united states of america, and in the democratic caucus and the democratic party, ny spaces,
educational spaces, but most importantly this political space, the congress of the united states, a genuine support by the majority for immigration reform. join us for conversations with congressman bill shuster and congressman luis gutierrez tonight at 10:00 p.m. eastern on c-span and c-span.org, and listen on the free c-span radio app. ♪ >> what does it mean to be american? that is this year's student-cam competition question. we asked students to answer it by producing a short documentary about a constitutional right, national characteristic or historic event, and explain how it defines the american experience. we are awarding $100,000 in prizes, including a grand prize of $5,000. this year's deadline is january
20, 2019. for more information goodwell our website, studentcam.org . >> descendents of presidents convened at a congress in washington dc. massee interview mckinley, a descendent of grover cleveland and president mckinley. you are here because you work with the organization but also because you are the descendent of two presidents. massee: on my maternal side am rela