Your Rivers Need You

The Red River in Kentucky was slated to be dammed in the early 60s and young landowner Joe Bowen supported it. He even gave the speech in favor of the dam against Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas and the Sierra Club.

Not anymore. “In 75 years of living, I’ve changed my attitude about this wild river. The river is ours. So if it’s ours, then it’s also our responsibility. I want my great-grandchildren to see what I have seen.”

In 1993, the Red River received Wild & Scenic River Designation.

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One thought on “Your Rivers Need You

  1. What a wonderful man.

    Bowen – Welsh in origin: “ap Owen” – “the son of Owen” – duly becoming the surname Bowen with the passing centuries. I knew a number of Bowens during the years I lived in Wales, one grouping old local landowning gentry fallen on harder times, the other their far poorer, same-name possibly distant cousins who spoke of family emigrating to the States in the 19th Century. Yet others of them going to Argentine Patagonia. Small world.

    Here in Britain, we also have a problem with making people appreciate and value our country’s wild places and rivers. People need to feel that they have a stake in such places and waters in order to speak up for them and fight for their survival, but in a good few cases are still kept very much out and off by a tiny, traditional, landowning, fence-heavy few. Only way to save anything now, I reckon, is numbers – big numbers of people with a quiet, burning, inner love of and pride in something they might not own but know that they could access and experience if they really wanted to, whether that something is a forest or a river (just knowing that they’re ‘out there’ is often enough); we Brits, 66 million of us living on a tiny island, still have some way to go.

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