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Top-Selling & Popular Titles ~ Children's ~ Environmental Education ~ Natural Resources & Conservation

Let the River Run Silver Again!

- How One School Helped Return the American Shad to the Potomac River--And How You Too Can Help Protect and Restore Our Living Waters
(1st Edition, Revised)

by Sandy Burk (Click for author info)

$19.95 Softcover
ISBN 0-939923-95-5; 978-0939923-95-3

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Selected as the Izaak Walton League of America's "2005 CONSERVATION BOOK OF THE YEAR" in the Adult and Youth Categories!

The National Science Teachers Association has included this title in their "NSTA Recommends" program.

Received a 2006 Green Earth Book Award.


Early accounts of people who lived along the rivers of the Chesapeake Bay watershed described great schools of shad migrating up the rivers in the spring. The shad were so numerous and dense that they appeared to be a "mass of molten silver" extending from "bank to bank." Shad were important parts of the Chesapeake ecosystem, and they were also economically important to humans. So important, in fact, that overfishing contributed to the closure of the Chesapeake shad fishery by the 1980s.

When Westbrook Elementary School in Bethesda, Maryland, became one of the first schools to participate in the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's shad restoration project in the 1990s, the school's Aqua Eagles Stream Team established a goal which was to "Let the River Run Silver Again."

Let the River Run Silver Again! is an environmental conservation success story for students ages 10 to 15 and the teachers, parents, and others who mentor them. It is a source of information and insight for those who want to learn about and benefit from the success of others as well as those who are interested in developing environmental restoration programs in their own watershed, regardless of where they live. The full-color format presents engaging, action-packed photographs along with maps, graphs, and original art that extends the information presented in multiple directions and dimensions.

The greater part of the book follows students from one elementary school in Maryland as they take part, over a period of nine years, in a major regional conservation initiative to restore populations of an important fish, the American shad, to the Chesapeake Bay watershed and to allow the shad to breach numerous dams while migrating to many of their former spawning areas. Numerous private organizations and local, state, and federal agencies contributed to the program - which was indeed successful - but the emphasis in this book is upon the students, their teachers, and their community as they collectively committed to the project, followed through with this commitment, and benefited in myriad ways from the success of the project. The narrative of the students' projects is presented in an energetic style, and at a level, that will both engage and inform other readers of the same age.

A short section at the end of the book draws upon the insights offered by the students' story while identifying pathways for students and their mentors to the development and implementation of water, wetland, and watershed restoration projects that could be implemented in other locations and circumstances. The students' experience thus serves as a model and inspiration for student or youth-group conservation projects anywhere.

Specifically, the book:

-Provides historical notes on the ecological and economic importance of shad and how dams came to prevent the shad from reaching their former spawning areas.
-Describes the Westbrook Elementary School's participation in the shad restoration project from 1995 through 2003.
-Provides information about the demise of shad in the Potomac River prior to 1982, then the rise in their numbers after the Little Falls Dam fishway was completed in 2000.
-Reviews some of the positive benefits the experience had on the Westbrook students, their school, their community, and their watershed.
-Provides questions for reflection about the role of self, place, time, and process in the environmental history of one's watershed.
-Outlines seven critical steps that can be taken by individuals or groups who want to devise and implement successful waterway and watershed restoration programs.
-Lists representative agencies, commissions, and organizations that can provide information and support for state-of-the-art waterway, wetland, and watershed conservation programs.
-Uses numerous photographs, maps, charts, and pieces of original art to extend the information presented in multiple directions and thereby make the contents available and meaningful to a broad range of readers.

Let the River Run Silver Again! will be of interest to elementary and junior high/middle school students and their teachers, parents, youth-group leaders, and other mentors. It will serve well as an individual reading resource and a guide to expanding one's familiarity with modern conservation and environmental rehabilitation needs, information, and concepts. It also will work well as a supplemental curriculum piece for environmental education, water monitoring, or restoration programs.