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reclamation of land

Introduction

reclamation of land, practice of converting land deemed unproductive into arable land by such methods as irrigation, drainage, flood control, altering the texture and mineral and organic content of soil (see fertilizer), and checking erosion. In the United States, all these methods have been used, but the chief effort has been through irrigation. Under the Reclamation Act of 1902, the Bureau of Reclamation supplies water, subsidized by taxpayers, to farmers on arid lands in 17 western states (see Reclamation, United States Bureau of). The irrigation water has increased production, but at some cost: selenium and salinity poisoning have damaged land once reclaimed, competition has grown between agriculture and municipal interests, and wildlife habitat has been jeopardized. Additional aims of the reclamation program include hydroelectric power generation, recreation, and flood control.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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