Building a Green Dam: Environmental Modernism and the Canadian-American Libby Dam Project

TitleBuilding a Green Dam: Environmental Modernism and the Canadian-American Libby Dam Project
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsHuizen, PV
JournalPacific Historical Review
Volume79
Pagination418-453
ISBN Number0030-8684
KeywordsHistory, state
Abstract

This article examines a fundamental shift in ideas about development, from high modernism in the early twentieth century to environmental modernism after 1960, illustrated by the promotion and construction of the Libby Dam Project in the Canadian-American Kootenay River Basin. In the 1940s Canadian and U.S. planners originally promoted the dam by stressing the rational conquest of nature through science and technology. When construction began in 1966, however, pressure from a growing environmental movement changed how planners designed and constructed the Libby Dam and its reservoir, Lake Koocanusa. The later planners implemented mitigation measures, "blended" the dam and reservoir into the landscape, and appropriated First Nations' symbols to make the project seem like a natural part of the Canadian-American Kootenay Basin. Thus, in both countries, planners reflected the shift from high modernism to environmental modernism.