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About this Project

  Lecture Exchange
  Radio Documentaries
  Reading the River
  Water Wars
  The River WE Know
  Speaking for the River
  Culminating Conference

Calendar of Events
  Colorado River Essay
  Law of the River
  Information Droplets

Suggested Readings
Project Participants

  State Humanities Councils
  Programming Sites
  Scholar List
  Production Credits

Press Kit
  Announcement Facts
  Why Humanities
  Radio Series Facts
  Exhibits Facts

Radio Documentaries

Radio Introduction and Episodes - Click here to listen to Introduction and episodes
(you will need Real Player to listen, click here to download free copy of Realplayer 8)

Documentary Titles and Descriptions

List of Participants

Azure Cliffs. Painting by Thomas Moran
Azure Cliffs. Painting by Thomas Moran

A provocative six-part series takes listeners on a Colorado River trip ­ from the mouth of the river to the delta ­ to explore this vital and vat watershed. The Colorado River, with its massive drainage system, provides the lifeblood for the American West. While it once formed a mighty barrier to exploration, today the river is known more for its tumultuous lawsuits than for its roiling rapids. Yet legalities tell only part of the story. Despite its nearly invisible presence through much of the western U.S., the pervasive mystique and massive presence of the Colorado River nourishes not only our cities and towns, but also our imaginations. 

Each 29-minute radio program is rich with sound and voices of historians, writers, farmers, environmentalists, leaders of American Indian tribes, poets, geologists, storytellers, philosophers, and everyday citizens. The program also includes architects of western water policy such as former Interior Secretaries Bruce Babbitt and Stewart Udall, and former Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner, Floyd Dominy.

Call your local National Public Radio station and ask for it to be aired in your community. To hear some of the program go to and hit NEWS. 

1. Getting to Know the Flow 
2. Law of the River 
3. Upstream Communities: Holding on to the Next Generation
4. Clashes and Contentions
5. Downstream Communities: Water Flows Uphill Toward Money 
6. The Colorado River as Our Mutual Future 

Documentary Descriptions 

First Half Hour - Getting to Know the Flow
In this first program, listeners "meet" the river and discover its intricate ecosystem. The segment profiles the size, scope, and diversity of the human, plant, and animal populations that are dependent upon the Colorado River. It describes the breadth of the riverís watershed, unveils its varied landscapes, and demonstrates how the river system shapes our sensibilities as well as how our values reshape the river. Topics include the link between Mormon social organization and water, the accidental creation of the Salton Sea, compacts that divide the water flow, and the value of watershed art and celebration. List of Participants

Second Half Hour - Law of the River
In this episode, the question is asked: How do we think about and understand the river? Does the river have rights? Or is it only a commodity to be used and reused? In tracing the ideas that shaped how we use the river, this half-hour program delves into how we allocated every drop of the river flow, "plumbed" it, and continue to live with the legal and historic impacts of this massive water delivery system. Topics include the 1922 Compact, the mechanisms to manage the river, and the construction of Hoover, Parker, and Davis dams. List of Participants


Third Half Hour - Upstream Communities: Holding On To The Next Generation
In the West, people go where water flows. This half hour is devoted to the human communities that have grown up in the Upper Basin of the Colorado River. Each of these towns and cities contributes specific activities and corresponding values to the river system. Ranching, agriculture, mining, and tourism, like other forms of economic development, only exist here because the river was there first. Sometimes these human activities and values are in concert; other times, they clash. Since in the West we "pump water uphill to money," cities far from the river are also communities of the Colorado. Through interviews with public officials, historians, business people and riverside community residents, listeners discover some human sides of the Colorado River. Topics include the stories of mountain men and Mormons, the diversions to Denver, Albuquerque, and Salt Lake City; and the unintended consequences of Cold War uranium mining on all who live downstream. List of Participants


Fourth Half Hour - Clashes and Contentions 

The fourth installment is a close up of decision-making processes that have in the past and will continue in the future to affect regional development and conservation. They are the Echo Park controversy and the eventual construction of the Glen Canyon Dam, which flooded Glen Canyon. Why were reservoirs thought to be required along the Colorado, and what were the conflicts and push-and-pull interests, intentions, and intrigue that resulted in the genesis of the modern environmental movement? The story will be told through interviews with people on many sides of the issues. List of Participants


Fifth Half Hour - Downstream Communities: Water Flows Uphill Toward Money

Program five uses the Central Arizona Project (CAP), a massive delivery system that delivers river water 336 miles to communities in eastern Arizona, to weave together the seemingly disparate stories of coal-fired power on Hopi lands, the Southern Nevada Water Authority, the relationship of water and electricity, and affirmation of water rights for Native American communities. List of Participants


Sixth Half Hour - The Colorado River as Our Mutual Future

In this final segment, those people who use the river -- who manage it, fight for it, promote it, work it, and write about it -- have their opportunity to speak for it. As this final program illustrates, we who live in its watershed, ride its rapids, drink its water, and use its energy, experience the totality of the Colorado River not only through out own senses, but also through the eyes and ears of others. Topics include the recreation and aesthetics of the river, the needs of the Colorado Delta, and thoughts leading toward a bioregional consciousness to shape the future of the river. List of Participants


List of Radio Documentary Interviewees - by Location

Kathleen Blair, Refuge Ecologist, US Fish and Wildlife, Bill Williams National Wildlife Refuge

Steve Cornelius, Biologist, Project Director, Sonoran Institute, Tucson

Mitch Ellis, Refuge Manager, US Fish and Wildlife, Imperial Wildlife Refuge, Yuma

Amelia Flores, librarian, Colorado River Indian Tribe, Parker

Katie Lee, folksinger, writer, Jerome

Gary Hansen, Water Resources Director, Colorado River Indian Tribe, Parker

Pamela Hyde, Director, Southwest Rivers, Flagstaff

Joaquin Murietta, Ecologist, Sonoran Institute, Tucson

Gary Nabhan, Ethnobotanist, Director, NAU Center for Sustainable Environments, Flagstaff

Jim Nafsy, Engineer, Metropolitan Water District, Parker

Carlos Nagel, Cultural Exchange Service, Tucson

Don Pope, Director, Yuma Irrigation District, Yuma

Bill Swan, water law attorney, Scottsdale

Vernon Masayesva, Director, Black Mesa Defense, Former Chairman, Hopi Tribal Council, New Oraibi, Hopi Nation

Norris Hundley, jr., historian, writer, Santa Barbara

Luna Leopold, hydrologist, writer, Berkeley

Martin Litton, river runner, photographer, Portola Valley

Rudy Maldonado, President, Board of Directors, District 6, Imperial Irrigation District, Calexico

Dave Robertson, bioregionalist, Professor, UC Davis, Davis

Gary Snyder, poet, environmental philosopher, Professor, UC Davis, Davis

Dennis Underwood, Metropolitan Water District, Los Angeles

Chips Barry, Director, Denver Water Board, Denver

John Echohawk, Director, Native American Rights Fund, Boulder

Patty Limerick, historian, writer, Director, Center for the American West, University of Colorado, Boulder

Ed Marston, publisher, High Country News, Paonia

Charles Wilkinson, attorney, writer, Law Professor, University of Colorado, Boulder

Ann Zwinger, writer, naturalist, Colorado Springs

Gary Bryant, Deputy Area Manager, Hoover Dam, Boulder City

Lorri Gray, Deputy Regional Director, BOR, Lower Colorado Region

Dennis McBride, oral historian, Boulder City

Patricia Mulroy, Director, Southern Nevada Water Authority, Las Vegas

Larry Baker, Director, Salmon Ruins, Farmington

William DeBuys, writer, Santa Fe

Ronnie Egan, river runner, Santa Fe

Robert Krakow, Director, Navajo Indian Irrigation Project, Farmington

Amie Lope, accompanied survey of Navajo homeland below Navajo Lake, Bloomfield

Chuy Martinez, Mexican labor rights activist, corridista, Albuquerque

Leo and Sarah Natani, Navajo, Table Mesa

Dale Pontius, attorney, writer, western water rights specialist, US Department of the Interior, Santa Fe

Melissa Savage, Biogeographer Emeritus, UCLA, Santa Fe

Stewart Udall, Former Secretary of the Interior, historian, Santa Fe

Joe Bennion, artist, river runner, Fairview

Hal Cannon, folklorist, radio producer, historian

Rick Gold, Deputy Regional Director, Bureau of Reclamation, Upper Colorado Region, Salt Lake City

William Heddon, scientist, specialist in mine tailings, Moab

David Orr, Living Rivers, Moab

T.R. Ritchie, folksinger, Moab

Cosy Sheridan, folksinger, Moab

Joel Tuhy, The Nature Conservancy, Moab

Dick Vaughn, river runner, outfitter, Moab

John Weisheit, Living Rivers, Moab

Eldon Allison, Rangeland Manager, BLM, Pinedale John Beach, Storyteller, Rock Springs

Donna Connor, "Lore Mistress," Rawlins

Dee Donahue, attorney, writer, Laramie

Jeff Fassett, former Wyoming State Engineer, Cheyenne

Charlie Love, Professor of Archaeology and Geology, Western Wyoming Community College, Rock Springs

Anne MacKinnon, attorney, Casper

Patrick O'Toole, Rancher, politician, Baggs

C.L. Rawlins, Ecologist, writer, Laramie

Monty Skinner, outfitter, Pinedale

Rose Skinner, Mayor, Pinedale

Craig Thompson, Professor of engineering and Earth Science, Western Wyoming Community College, Rock Springs

Bruce Babbitt, attorney, former Secretary of the Interior, Washington, D.C.

Floyd Dominy, former Commissioner, Bureau of Reclamation, Winchester, VA


Baja California
Jesus Mosqueda, Campo Mosqueda on Rio Hardy

Elena Chavarria, Director, Pronatura, Guaymas

From previous recordings:

Ed Abbey, writer, environmentalist

David Brower, former director, Sierra Club

List of Radio Documentary Interviewees - by Program

Program One: Getting to Know the Flow

Vernon Masayesva

Gary Nabhan

Patty Limerick

Hal Cannon

Charlie Love

William DeBuys

William Swan

Stewart Udall

Norris Hundley

Floyd Dominy

Patricia Mulroy

Gary Snyder

Program Two: The Law of the River

William DeBuys

Dennis MacBride

Stewart Udall

Floyd Dominy

Patricia Mulroy

William Swan

Bruce Babbitt

Hal Cannon

Norris Hundley

Jim Nafsey

Gary Bryant

Patty Limerick

Lorri Gray

Program Three: Upstream Communities: Holding On to the Next Generation

Ann Zwinger

John Beach

Joe Bennion

Donna Connor

Patrick O’Toole

Rose Skinner

Chip Rawlins

Charlie Love

Rick Gold

Chips Barry

Patty Limerick

William Heddon

Cosy Sheridan

Sarah Natani

Robert Krakow

Stewart Udall


Program Four: Clashes and Contention

Stewart Udall Norris Hundley

Charles Wilkinson

Martin Litton

Floyd Dominy

David Brower

Rick Gold

Pamela Hyde

Katie Lee

Program Five: Downstream Communities: Water Flows Uphill Toward Money

Stewart Udall

Bruce Babbitt

William Swan

Charles Wilkinson

William DeBuys

David Brower

Vernon Masayesva

John Echohawk

Norris Hundley

Camillus Lopez

Gary Hansen

Patricia Mulroy


Program Six: The Colorado River as Our Mutual Future

Edward Abbey

Craig Thompson

Ronni Egan

Bruce Babbitt

Pamela Hyde

Luna Leopold

Chuy Martinez

Don Pope

Rudy Maldonado

Norris Hundley

Gary Nabhan

Patricia Mulroy

Ed Marston

Dale Pontius

Elena Chavarria

Steve Cornelius

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