Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Sacramento River, in all its glory


"My love of rivers is deep and enduring," writes Bob Madgic. "What inspired me to move from the San Francisco Bay Area to Shasta county after a career in public education was the Sacramento River. My wife, Diane, and I live in a home overlooking this magnificent waterway. The river's daily gifts are immeasurable. Constant yet ever-changing motion, myriad birds, stunning sunsets that tint the water red, and full moons that coat the surface silver are joined by a continual symphony of river sounds. I can walk to the water any time and possibly hook a spirited rainbow trout. We are truly blessed."

Madgic, aided by project contributor Walt Simmons, has created a printed homage to this great waterway. "The Sacramento: A Transcendent River" ($24.95 in paperback from River Bend Books, 6412 Clear View Drive, Anderson, CA 96007) is a beautifully designed book, replete with color photos, some taken by Madgic, that captures "the power and beauty of the natural Sacramento River, including the flora and fauna that co-exist with it."

Madgic will be signing copies of his book and presenting a multi-media presentation this Thursday, March 28, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the meeting of the Sacramento River Preservation Trust, 631 Flume St. in Chico. Books will be available for purchase; the signing is free and open to the public.

The story of the Sacramento River is told in eleven chapters, from the history of the native peoples to the development of Shasta Dam, the "decline of the Delta," the diminishing of the winter-run salmon, and, more recently, new hope for conservation. Ironically, the "age of abundance" created by new technologies also caused industrial pollution and "widespread destruction of natural habitat." But then came new conservation organizations, like the Sacramento River Preservation Trust. Co-founded in Chico in the 1980s by John Merz, it fought a proposal to, in Merz' words, "rip rap every bend between Red Bluff and Colusa," thus turning the Sacramento into a glorified canal.

But even more central to Madgic's story is the encounter with the river itself and how a "natural" river, to the extent that that is possible, offers abundant gifts. The river is a classroom, and the lesson is clear: that "a healthy human race calls for thriving river ecosystems."

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