David Allen is a retired wildlife biologist and environmental consultant, where he worked for federal, state, tribal, and local governments in 25 states. He is the lead author of Paper Valley: The Fight for the Cleanup of the Fox River (Wayne State U. Press, 2023). He is also an author of three book chapters in Economics and Ecological Risk Assessment, Applications to Watershed Management (CRC Press, 2005). He is also an author of scholarly papers in: Proceedings of the 38th Annual Conference on Environmental Law (American Bar Association); Fisheries; Southwest Hydrology; Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry; and Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology.
Paper Valley: The Fight for the Fox River Cleanup
When government scientist David Allen arrived at his new jobsite in the 1990s, the Fox River near Wisconsin's Green Bay was dominated by hulking paper mills, noxious industrial odors, and widespread ecological damage. Confronted by his lack of resources to force the politically powerful "Paper Valley" polluters to fix their mess, Allen proceeds against all bureaucratic odds in building a $1 billion case against the paper company bosses. Two small but vital players, Allen along with journalist Susan Campbell were relentless in bringing the case to the public at the time. They do so again in this book: an act of radical transparency to uncover the intrigue that nearly blocked the cleanup behind the scenes at US Fish and Wildlife, Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources, and the US Environmental Protection Agency. In a rare and major environmental win, the Fox River became the site of the largest polychlorinated biphenyls cleanup in history, paid for by the paper companies rather than taxpayers, to the tune of $1.3 billion, and completed in 2020.
This true story of struggle, perseverance, and success inspires hope for environmentalists who strive to restore natural landscapes. The detailed account given in this book is meant to inspire and offer practical knowledge and solutions for those fighting similar opponents of environmental cleanup and restoration. Allen and Campbell eloquently outline the problematic bureaucracy involved in environmental cleanup efforts and reveal tactics to compel corporate entities who would dodge accountability for decades worth of contamination.