Tag: Jeff Opperman

Sustainable Hydropower: Are Small Dams Really Better for the Environment?

When it comes to dams, small is often considered beautiful. But should small hydropower projects get a free pass? Can such dams actually be tiny but terrible? Freshwater scientist Jeff Opperman takes a look at the realities of sustainable hydropower.

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Beyond the Power Struggle: The Science and Values of Sustainable Hydropower

Fighting dams is in the environmental movement’s DNA. But is it time to change? Freshwater scientist Jeff Opperman argues that science-based collaboration offers a better future for rivers and fish — and the people who depend on them.

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Book Week: John Graves’ ‘Goodbye to a River’

Next up for book week: Senior freshwater scientist Jeff Opperman reviews John Graves’ canoeing classic, Goodbye to a River.

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Mekong (Blogging) Odyssey: Jeff Opperman’s New York Times Series

In January, Nature Conservancy Senior Freshwater Scientist Jeff Opperman took a 1,500-mile trip down the Mekong River in January with his wife, son and daughter — to explore one of the most amazing freshwater ecosystems on the planet, one that could be radically changed in the next two decades by hydropower development. But the trip turned out to be straightforward compared with blogging about it afterwards for The New York Times.

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Science at Emiquon: Restoring a “Wetland of Dreams”

The airboat whirs over the shallow wetland, as huge flocks of coots, ducks, herons and other birds flush before me.

It’s the kind of scene that could entice one to wax rhapsodic on the beauties of untrammeled nature.

Except this isn’t. Not quite.

Just six years ago, this expansive wetland was cornfields and a cattle feedlot.

It’s now Emiquon Preserve, a 6,600-acre project on the Illinois River that is one of the largest floodplain restoration projects in the Midwest.

How do you go from cornfield to wildlife paradise?

The easy answer is to invoke Field of Dreams: Build it, and they will come.

The hard answer: Research, and lots of it. Behind Emiquon’s incredible conservation success is an extensive science program.

Each March, the University of Illinois at Springfield’s Therkilsden Field Station at Emiquon—the preserve’s flagship research center—convenes a gathering of researchers to share results from their studies.

While it may look like the wetland is nature primeval, it is this research that is restoring what once was known as the “inland fishing capital of North America.”

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