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Cover for For the Love of Rivers

For the Love of Rivers

A Scientist's Journey

Kurt D. Fausch


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Rivers and streams supply our water and capture our imaginations. We seek the more pristine ones to fish or paddle, to hike along or simply sit and watch. But what is it we are seeing?  What is essential about streams and rivers for us as humans?

In For the Love of Rivers, stream ecologist Kurt Fausch draws readers across the reflective surface of streams to view and ponder what is beneath, and how they work. While celebrating their beauty and mystery, he uses his many years of experience as a field biologist to explain the underlying science connecting these aquatic ecosystems to their streamside forests and the organisms found there—including humans.

For the Love of Rivers introduces readers to the life and work of Shigeru Nakano, a pioneering river ecologist who inspired other scientists around the world with his innovative research on stream-forest connections. Fausch takes readers along as he journeys to Japan, where he awakens to an unfamiliar culture, to Nakano, and his research.

Nakano’s life was abruptly ended in a tragic field accident, and his death was deeply mourned. Fausch joins Japanese and American colleagues to continue Nakano’s research legacy, learn everything they can about the effects that humans have on rivers, fish, and their intricate links with riparian zones, and share this knowledge with others.

More than a book about stream ecology, For the Love of Rivers is a celebration of the interconnectedness of life. It is an authoritative and accessible look at the science of rivers and streams, but it also ponders the larger questions of why rivers are important to humans, why it is in our nature to want to be near them, and what we can do now to ensure the future of these essential ecosystems.

Praise For For the Love of Rivers: A Scientist's Journey

This open window to the mind, heart, and adventures of an accomplished ecologist offers a rare and insightful view for any of us who care about streams, fish, and nature. Join Professor Fausch on the kinds of expeditions that unfold when a curious scientist asks good questions about the intricate and mysterious workings of the natural world. —Tim Palmer, author of Field Guide to Oregon Rivers, Rivers of America, and Lifelines: The Case for River Conservation

"Fausch presents a rare view into the life of a scientist by describing heartfelt events that resonate in each of us, through accomplished storytelling. He recognized that his story of conservation was most effective through illustrating innate feelings of connection - to nature and to each other - and allowing for each human's love of waterways, of rivers, to pass freely through the tributaries of one's self. It is this love for the rivers of the world, near and far, that carries Fausch and his audience downstream, meandering through deep beauty, striving to protect and nurture the increasingly restricted lungs of Earth. Borrowing from Aldo Leopold, he wonders, "What if there is no more river music?" For the Love of Rivers takes us on Fausch's personal journey to answer this question, and around each bend is a surprising lesson in life and love...The events shared in this work are so emotionally moving and scientifically fascinating...It is writing like this that is needed to encourage and guide us in our pursuits of understanding and stewardship, and illustrates how perhaps the only way we can protect and cherish these wonders is through emotional connection to each other and to nature."

- Brent S. Pease, Natural Areas Journal

Oregon State University Press, 9780870717703, 288pp.

Publication Date: February 1, 2015

About the Author

KURT D. FAUSCH is a professor in the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology at Colorado State University, where he has taught for 33 years.  His collaborative research has taken him throughout Colorado, the West, and worldwide, including to Hokkaido in northern Japan. His experiences in Japan were chronicled in the PBS documentary film “RiverWebs.” He has received numerous awards from the American Fisheries Society and the World Council of Fisheries Societies, and served as the acting Director of the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology at CSU.