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Lake Lazarus: the strange rebirth of a Californian ecosystem

Amy Maxmen | November 12th, 2018

At the start of the twentieth century, Owens Lake in southern California was one of the largest inland bodies of water in the United States. By the mid-1920s, it was gone, drained to provide water to a mushrooming Los Angeles. Over the past 30 years, the city has spent around US$2 billion to undo the damage. It has failed to restore the lake, but in The Spoils of Dust, Alexander Robinson describes how the effort has succeeded in another way: by creating a landscape no less valuable ecologically. By documenting the transitions the lake has undergone, he suggests a way forward for engineers, geologists, ecologists and landscape designers hoping to bring other environments back from the brink.


ecosystem restoration, fugitive dust