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Articles by Gretchen Daily

Ecologist Gretchen C. Daily is the Bing Interdisciplinary Scientist at Stanford University.

Featured Article

This essay is excerpted from The New Economy of Nature: The Quest to Make Conservation Profitable.

In a cattle pasture south of downtown Napa, Calif., a clarinet, flute, and bass guitar strike up a jazzy version of “Up a Lazy River.” About sixty people, if you count the rubberneckers wandering over from a nearby retirement house, gather in the midsummer sun. Two young women in flowing dresses open paper boxes to release orange clouds of monarch butterflies. A few dogs wander through the crowd.

The Napa River.

Photo: City of Napa.

It’s a markedly mellower scene than your average U.S. Army Corps of Engineers groundbreaking ceremony. Yet the mood of this morning, in late July 2000, is triumphant. This blue-collar, backwater city has fought Washington, D.C., and won. It has taken control of the shape of its future, declared its right to choose its battles — and now, with low-key pomp, it is celebrating a promising armistice.

For several decades, Napa, the depressed county seat of the glamorous grape-growing valley that bears its name, had lived at war with the river that runs through... Read more