Can We Design Ecosystems? Lessons from the California Rivers

Michael Black
284 Catalina Ave., Pacifica CA 94044, USA
E-mail: or

For over a century, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and its predecessors have run the Coleman National Fish Hatchery on northern California’s Battle Creek. Until recently, however, those overseeing the world’s largest salmon hatchery have sought to restrict the upstream passage of indigenous, and, in some cases, `endangered’ stocks of chinook salmon. Today the Service’s managerial, infrastructural and scientific priorities appear to be on a collision course with legislatively-mandated, natural restoration priorities. Technological mitigations like hatcheries and other `serialistic policies’ stand in the way of habitat restoration and designing with nature. Natural resource agencies remain wedded to ratcheting up ameliorative technological fixes within riverine systems too battered any longer to support wild fish. Today’s `fish salvage’ assumptions are identical to rationale formulated, institutionalized, and subsequently abandoned as unworkable over a century ago.


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