Science and Society in an Urban Landscape

In 1995, the Portland Oregonian asked:

Saving the Slough: Is it Worth the Price?

Millions upon millions of dollars - public and private money - will be spent over the next few decades to save the "ailing" Columbia River Slough. Some people contend that both the time and money spent will never bring the waterway back to the condition it was in when the Lewis and Clark expedition first camped along its shore. Others will say that is the very reason to not go overboard on the project.
How do you feel? How important is the slough to Portland? How clean is clean enough? And where should we draw the line on spending money to restore it?
The Oregonian, November 23, 1995

Citizen responses to the query varied. Some advocated opening the slough to the Columbia River to flush pollutants from the water. As part of the larger Columbia River system and the most used water system in the region, many citizens claimed the Columbia Slough should be preserved for its wildlife and fish habitat, and as a recreational resource. One resident adapted Dr. Seuss's The Lorax to the Columbia Slough:

We're glumping the streams
Where the salmon fish hummed
Nor more can they hum
For their gills are all gummed.
We're killing them off
Oh, their future is dreary
They've growth on their fins
And get woefully weary
Searching for water
That isn't so smeary. . . .

Unless someone like you
Cares a whole awful lot
Nothing is going to get better
It's not.

Amanda Fritz in the Oregonian, 11-30-95

The question -- to save or not to save the Columbia Slough -- was part of a broader environmental movement. In the 1970s, as many U.S. citizens became aware of the dangers of environmental pollutants, federal legislation confirmed the significance of clean air and water through the following:

This section highlights the relationship between communities, the environment, and scientific and technological solutions to pollution in this urban landscape.



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