Cover

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Title, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Foreword

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pp. ix-x

As I sit down on a gorgeous winter day in the Texas Hill Country to write the foreword to the latest edition of the Kathie and Ed Cox Jr. Books on Conservation Leadership, I am, quite frankly, humbled. The absolutely monumental Texas Landscape Project is the latest contribution to the conservation movement by one of its true unsung heroes, David Todd. An unsung hero, it seems to me, is a person who has a profound and positive impact on our lives and times but goes mostly un...

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Preface

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pp. xi-xiv

“Hitches”: The Texas Landscape Project is sponsored by the Conservation History Association of Texas, a nonprofit focused on research and education about efforts to protect the Texas environment and public health. The Landscape Project is tied in with an earlier association work, the Texas Legacy Project, which compiled, archived, and distributed oral histories of leading...

Overview Map

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pp. xv-xvii

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Land

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pp. xviii-xx

Texas is a vast land of wide plains, tall forests, and big skies. But it is also a place that is being rapidly settled, subdivided, and developed. In this section of the atlas, we track the efforts to protect the state’s lands, focusing on the conservation of prairies, Neches river bottoms, Big Thicket sloughs and forests, and working farms and ranches. Often the data on these land trends are incomplete or indirect, and we have had to use other indicators to understand the history and causes of these changes, especially those of long ago, before there were thorough and accurate...

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Land Protection

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pp. 3-10

Texas came into the union in 1845 with a huge expanse of public lands spread across 225 million acres (Texas General Land Office 1942). However, by the current day, Texas has lost all but roughly 3 percent of its public property. The reasons for the loss of its public lands go back over a century and a half. For many years, Texas was rich in land but poor in cash...

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Prairies, Pastures, Cropfields, and Lawns

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pp. 11-26

Texas has high mountains, deep canyons, thick woodlands, and long coastlines. However, grassland is the state’s defining landscape, and one that, for hundreds of years, has brought visitors wonder, delight, and some fear. Nearly every part of the state can claim a distinctive grassland as its own. Texas stretches from the coastal prairie along the Gulf, to the ...

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Desert Bighorn Sheep

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pp. 27-36

For hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, people have coexisted with desert bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni) in Texas. Pictographs from the Trans-Pecos illustrate views of desert bighorn sheep recorded in times well before western settlement. Even as late as 1880, Texas was home to a herd of desert bighorn sheep numbering roughly 1,500, possibly ...

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The Big Thicket

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pp. 37-52

This is a story about a ninety-year effort to protect this place, the Big Thicket, a land of creeks, woodlands, bogs, and prairies in the southeastern corner of the state. As you will see, it is a long story, a complex one full of many economic and political hurdles. Perhaps it gives an example of how hard it is to set aside and protect a piece of this heavily used, largely privately owned state. Those general...

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The Neches Valley

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pp. 53-61

This is the story of a kind of Rorschach test, where some saw a landscape for its rich bottomland and diverse wildlife, while others saw this same country for its plentiful rain, strong runoff, and robust water supplies. Played out in the upper Neches basin, these two visions competed for the same site. Some pressed for a National Wildlife Refuge and a Wild and Scenic River designation. Others lobbied for dam construction at Fastrill, Weches, Rockland...

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Conserving Land and Wildlife

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pp. 62-64

Wildlife is in trouble around the world; recent studies indicate that 10,000 representative populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish declined by over 52 percent from 1970 through 2010 (World Wildlife Fund 2014, 8). Texas is not immune from these challenges: scattered throughout the book you will find a number of chapters about the travails of wildlife in the Lone Star State. There are chapters describing both the sad decline and the exciting return of numerous species native to Texas, including...

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Cooperation

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pp. 65-73

No question about it, Texas is a big state. And it is a state rich with diverse habitats and enormous wildlife resources. But the state’s lands have been sliced up and heavily altered to suit human uses. Often those changes have come (albeit unintentionally) at the expense of wildlife. These man-made changes to Texas habitat started early (Weniger 1989, 176–200). Texas saw thousands of...

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Wildlife, Land, and Taxes

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pp. 74-84

This is a story of an odd couple—taxes and wildlife. They are a peculiar pair, but seem to have gotten along well in Texas, successfully wedding private property interests and public conservation goals. Much of the plot here has to do with the rather arcane world of ad valorem tax appraisals for rural land, and how those appraisals were adjusted to encourage better...

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The Fall and Rise of the American Bison

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pp. 85-96

An odd sight struck sixteenthcentury explorers of the Americas. They saw a new and unusual animal. In Montezuma’s menagerie, Hernán Cortés found that “the greatest Rarity was the Mexican Bull; a wonderful composition of divers Animals” with “a Bunch on its Back like a Camel” and “its Neck cover’d with Hair like ...

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Water

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pp. 97-99

John Wesley Powell is famous for many exploits. He rowed the Mississippi from Minnesota to the coast, fought in the Civil War, ran the rapids of the Grand Canyon, explored the West, pioneered cultural anthropology, and led the US Geological Survey (Stegner 1954; Worster 2001). In 1890, he also offered an odd but prescient proposal for administering the arid lands of the United States. He suggested that the division and governance of lands west of the 100th meridian avoid the traditional Cartesian grid...

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Surface Water

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pp. 100-102

This portion of the Texas Landscape Project looks at the diverse signs of change that the past century and a half have brought to Texas surface waters. These years have seen the construction of massive dams and reservoirs, interconnected with vast networks of pumps, gates, canals, and pipelines. However, some of the key signals of change...

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High Plains Playas

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pp. 103-108

The American High Plains are pockmarked with an amazing number of playas, perhaps as many as 60,000 (Batzer and Baldwin 2012). These playas are shallow, ephemeral ponds that have been scooped out by wind erosion over the eons (Haukos and Smith 2003, 577; Playa Lakes Joint Venture 2014). Texas has the highest density of playas in North America and...

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Reservoirs

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pp. 109-119

At the beginning of the twentieth century, there were only a handful of lakes in Texas. Most were quite small, many of them seasonal. Included were Caddo Lake, playas in the Panhandle, coastal marshes such as Eagle Lake, and resacas and oxbows along Texas rivers. A hundred years later, the state now boasts of 188 major reservoirs, each holding more than 5,000 acrefeet of water. Together they...

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Drought and Water Use

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pp. 120-126

Harsh drought hit Texas in 2011. While low rains have persisted in some parts of the state to the current day, that first year of the dry spell was the most severe and widespread recorded in over one hundred years (Nielsen-Gammon 2011, 35). Although indoor, urban, air-conditioned life has insulated many Texans from the vagaries of much of the natural world, this drought still grabbed our attention and reminded us of the ...

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Stream Flows and Water Rights

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pp. 127-138

The Rio Grande is a magnificent and storied river, draining more than 11 percent of the continental United States and flowing over 2,000 miles from its source in the southern Rockies to its delta on the Gulf of Mexico. Stream Flows and Water Rights However, the river is a workhorse, tamed and used by farms and cities throughout its length, on both the Mexican and US sides. In fact, diversions now claim 95 percent of its flows, and parts of the river ran dry in ...

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Water Planning and Interbasin Transfers

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pp. 139-145

Six million acre-feet, close to 2 trillion gallons, of water have been authorized for transfer from one watershed to another in the state of Texas (Votteler, Alexander, and Moore 2006, 142). The first major interbasin transfer occurred over one hundred years ago. In 1900, the Garwood Irrigation Company was authorized to use 168,000 acre-feet of Colorado River waters in both the...

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Dams in the Big Bend

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pp. 146-153

Texas has miles and miles of rivers, 184,797 miles by one count. Yet, there are just 195.7 miles, one-tenth of a percent, that are protected against dams (US Fish and Wildlife Service 2012). All of these protected river segments lie in the Big Bend canyons of the Rio Grande. This is a story of how those canyons came to be saved under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act....

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Trinity Barge Canal

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pp. 154-161

Since very early days, Texans have been interested in using the Trinity River as a link to the sea, to allow fast, inexpensive, year-round travel and commerce with the world. Still, navigating the Trinity was never easy. In many places the river was shallow, narrow, crooked, and full of snags and shoals, subject to flood and drought, and impossible to navigate. So, headway was slow....

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Fishing, Swimming, and Polluting

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pp. 162-172

The pollution in the Neches was not unique. The pattern was repeated throughout Texas and beyond. The Houston Ship Channel suffered from anoxic conditions even into the late 1970s (City of Houston and PBS&J 2003, ii). The highly industrial Cuyahoga River in Ohio regularly caught fire in the 1950s and 1960s (Greenberg 2012). Into the 1970s, a huge expanse of Lake ...

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History and Prehistory of Lake Amistad

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pp. 173-178

We all enjoy visiting a lake and relishing the view, the fish and birds, the waves and the breeze. And, of course, the lake provides many benefits for water supply, flood control, and other uses. But, under the water’s surface, things of great interest and value may be hidden. Lake Amistad offers an example....

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Falcon Reservoir’s Drowned History

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pp. 179-182

The Lower Rio Grande Valley has a very long and rich history, dating to days under the flags of Spain, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederacy, the United States, and even the little-known Republic of the Rio Grande (Lee and Stambaugh 1954)...

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Exotic Fish in Texas

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pp. 183-191

In recent years, concern has grown about the impact of introduced species on native life. In their new homes, the foreign creatures often outcompete and replace endemic species and upset the overall ecological balance. Exotic (brought from outside the United States) finfish provide a good example of the invasive problem, ...

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Groundwater

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pp. 192-194

In this part of the atlas, we look at groundwater in Texas, whether in the springs of the Hill Country, the great Ogallala aquifer underlying the Panhandle, or the curiously collapsible aquifers of the Gulf Coast. Tracking changes, especially since they often occur deep underground within aquifer sands, gravels, and rocks, can be difficult. Often, the only indicators of change are technical measurements of fluctuations in well water levels, saturated layers, groundwater contaminants, or in land surface elevations. Sometimes,...

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Lost Springs and Old Trails

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pp. 195-198

Early travelers to Texas frequently noted the number, purity, and power of springs in the area (Weniger 1984, 95–110). Often under intense artesian pressure, many were not even called springs, but instead were described as “founts” or “fountains.” It is estimated that there were originally at least two thousand springs in Texas, with 281 considered major and historically important...

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Barton Springs, Austin,and Nonpoint Source Pollution

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pp. 199-207

Austin is a boomtown, doubling in population roughly every twenty years (Imagine Austin 2009). And as the center city has grown, residents and businesses have moved to the outskirts, driven by cheaper land, larger lots, less traffic, white flight, beautiful scenery, and other factors. Much of this suburban growth has funneled into the lands southwest of Austin. Homes, stores, and offices have...

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Ogallala Aquifer

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pp. 208-216

There are some very big and magnificent things in the natural world. The Ogallala aquifer is certainly one of them. It is almost unimaginably vast. The aquifer is like an immense underground lake, containing in its sands and gravels as much water as nine Lake Eries (Ashworth 2007; Opie 2000, 3). The aquifer underlies forty seven Texas counties and stretches north under the High Plains, through...

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Comal, San Antonio, and the Edwards

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pp. 217-226

The Edwards aquifer is well known today as the huge water-bearing strata that stretch across 3,500 square miles and six counties in the Hill Country of Central Texas. However, the aquifer was hidden from early Texans and only known by the springs it fed, such as Comal Springs. Comal consists of a collection of seven major springs near New Braunfels, and they make up the major outlet for the Edwards aquifer. As the largest set of springs in Texas,...

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Houston Subsidence

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pp. 227-235

When we think of the land, many of us probably think of something stable, permanent, and strong. We may cast our mind back to the old Latin term, “terra firma,” meaning “solid earth.” Nevertheless, sometimes the land moves. Headlines often tell us of the abrupt and catastrophic tremors along the globe’s many fault lines. Yet the Houston Subsidence The Houston area is pockmarked with many groundwater wells, showing the area’s heavy historic reliance on the local aquifer. The location of over 10,900 known Houston-area water well sites, dating from 1900 through 2012, are shown here (Texas Water Development Board 2014). ...

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Gulf of Mexico

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pp. 236-237

Different readers can interpret this map differently, as with all maps. It is like looking at clouds— some see rabbits, some see sheep, some see vapor in the sky. One person might look at the map and think of the long distances these ships travel. Another user might be impressed at the technology that allows these vessels to find their way across this great sea in such straight and efficient courses from one port to the next. The map might evoke other thoughts for other users, beyond the distance and trajectory of the vessels. These people might think mostly of the cargo of these trawlers and tankers. They might feel grateful for the many ...

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Reefs

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pp. 238-245

Many parts of the world are known for their colorful coral reefs, busy with schools of fish spawning, feeding, hiding, and hunting. The Gulf Coast of Texas is different though. Most of the coast has a soft, nearly featureless seabed of sand or mud, not known for reefs. Coral in the Gulf However, for decades into the early twentieth century there were rumors among offshore fishermen...

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Storms and the Texas Coast

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pp. 246-259

From simple footprints to immense pit mines, people leave diverse signs and impacts of their lives on the earth. Sometimes though, the tables are turned, and the earth can leave a mark Storms and the Texas Coast This map of the tracks of tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic, 1850–2006, shows how cyclones have repeatedly battered the eastern seaboard of the United States (National Weather Service 2013b). on people and their homes. The Texas coast is an example of the sort of place that can carry such risks—serious and surprising ones at that. ...

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Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle

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pp. 260-271

Recent years have seen an explosion of knowledge about the bewildering, rich diversity of wildlife on the planet. Just the year 2011 saw the discovery of a monkey, nematode, tarantula, orchid, wasp, mushroom, and even a walking cactus! (International Institute for Species Exploration 2011)...

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Air

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pp. 272-273

This section of the atlas looks at those issues and parts of our landscape that affect our atmosphere. As the garage for millions of cars, and the home for major petrochemical industries and utility complexes, the Lone Star State has a challenge in protecting the air Texans breathe. Since these same vehicles and facilities emit copious amounts of CO2 , carbon black, and methane, Texas also needs to confront how its residents’ lifestyles and economy risk warming and destabilizing the climate...

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Lead, Smeltertown, and the Family Car

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pp. 274-283

Lead is a very useful metal, but also a long-lasting and subtle poison widely spread in twentieth-century America. The removal of lead from gasoline, and from air, soil, and blood, is considered one of the great public health accomplishments, but it was neither quick nor easy (Needleman 1998). Eliminating its major ambient source, leaded gasoline, from...

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The Ozone Hole

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pp. 284-290

Deodorant, hair spray, shaving cream, Reddi-Whip, Silly String, and air conditioning refrigerants have something in common. Forty years ago, each of these products contained chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs for short. CFCs are nontoxic, nonflammable, noncorrosive, and very useful chemicals, valuable as aerosol propellants, solvents, and refrigerants (Hansen 2013, 28). They are also odd pieces of a...

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Tobacco and Secondhand Smoke

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pp. 291-298

The idea of air pollution can bring up a vision of plumes of smoke billowing from tall chimneys and flares towering over large factories, refineries, and other facilities. Secondhand tobacco smoke is both similar and different. It is certainly a pollutant, with a mix of more than ninety recognized toxins, including benzene, arsenic, cyanide, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and ammonia...

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Upsets

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pp. 299-309

A good deal of American environmental protection hinges on an idea called, “command and control,” where agencies cap pollution with rules and permits. These licenses specify the kind and amount of pollution allowed and require monitoring, record keeping, and reporting. Upsets High flames and billowing dark smoke come from an upset at the Texas Petrochemicals plant in southeast Houston (Espinosa 2013). For instance, much of modern US air pollution control revolves around limits and mandates for major industrial sources,...

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Monarch Butterflies

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pp. 310-318

The massive 3,000-mile migration of millions of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) through Mexico, the United States, and as far north as Canada, is one of the world’s great natural events. Yet the story of the protection of this amazing spectacle, of Monarch Butterflies A monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), the state insect of Texas, is shown here feeding on milkweed at the Botanical Gardens in Grapevine, Texas (House Concurrent Resolution No. 94, 74th Legislature, Regular Session, 1995; Slade 2008). this extraordinary species, is found in many small identification tags, larval monitoring reports, and little sideyard milkweed...

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Energy

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pp. 319-321

In recent years, Texas has seen a boom in wind energy and natural gas production (Texas leads the nation in both sectors). The resulting shift in utility boilers away from coal has helped lower the carbon intensity of the Texas economy by a full quarter during the first decade of this century (US Energy Information Administration 2014a, 2014b, 2014c). Here we investigate how development of fossil fuels has affected the Texas landscape; we do this by tracking the oil and gas wells...

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Coal

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pp. 322-334

Coal has long been a part of human life, culture, and industry. Coal has provided heat since 3000 BC for smelting metals, heating lime and ceramics, cooking meals, warming hearths, fueling engines and iron blast furnaces, and even firing altar braziers and funeral pyres. And for over one hundred years, cheap and plentiful ...

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Oil and Gas, Water and Wastewater

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pp. 335-342

The Abrahamic tradition is full of verses and parables regarding how the faithful should deal with “the sins of the father” (Numbers 14:18; Exodus 20:1–26; Ezekiel 18:19–20). Are future generations liable for the misOil and Gas, Water and Wastewater This view of a forest of oil rigs south of Beaumont, circa 1901, suggests the vast number of oil and gas wells that have punctured Texas lands over the past century and more. In this scene, five hundred wells were reported to have been drilled on just 144 acres; derrick legs on some adjoining prospects touched one another. While the oil industry brought Texas great wealth, many wells in the state were unfortunately abandoned and left unplugged, remaining as an environmental liability for years to come (Trost 1901). takes and shortcomings of their predecessors? Do the sins die with our forebears, or live on for us to atone for? In environmental situations, we often have to confront our inheritance, both good and bad. Past blunders and errors, old...

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Brown Pelican

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pp. 343-352

On December 17, 2009, the US secretary of the interior removed the brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) from the endangered species list for Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi A brown pelican adult and several fledglings are seen here on Chester Island, in Matagorda Bay (Spears 2013). (74 Fed. Reg. 59,443–59,444 (Nov. 17, 2009), codified at 50 C.F.R. part 17). Twenty-four years earlier, the Department of the Interior had delisted the bird for Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and the states along the eastern seaboard (50 Federal Register 4938–4945 (February 4, 1985)). These moves completed the bird’s arduous century-long tour through decline, p...

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Wind Energy

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pp. 353-363

Texans have taken advantage of wind as a source of power for many years. Railroads were some of the first businesses to build windmills in the state, using them to pump water for their steam engines as early as 1860 near Houston, and, by the 1880s, erecting huge Eclipse mills every 30 miles along their tracks in West Texas...

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The Built World

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pp. 364-365

Texas is the second most populous state in the Union, home to over twenty-six million people. And for all the frontier lore, it is now an urban state. Texas has three cities among the ten largest in America (Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas), and has more than 80 percent of its residents living in metropolitan areas (US Census 2010). To support all these citizens, and to power its economy, the second largest in the United States, the state has an extensive pattern...

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Population Growth and Shift

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pp. 366-372

Texas has long welcomed new residents. Its very name is translated from “tejas,” the Spanish spelling of a native Caddo word, “taysha,” meaning friend (Newcomb 1961). With a huge Westward ho! This map of the US population center shows the eightyfold growth (from 3.9 to 309 million) and movement of the American people, amid the addition of millions of acres in new territories to the United States. The blue dots’ locations mark how the centroid of the American population moved from 1790 through 2010. The dot’s size refers to the number of Americans (excluding many Native Americans, slaves, and undocumented aliens) counted during each of the decennial censuses (Gauthier 2002; Mackun and Wilson 2011; US Census Bureau 2013, 2014b). land area, plentiful timber and water, and rich soils, the state was a magnet for immigrants from its earliest days. While this population growth has built our state and filled our coffers, the surge has also had powerful and troubling impacts on th...

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Sprawl

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pp. 373-389

Over the past several generations, Texas’ built world has faced extraordinary growth, much of it channeled into the kind of sprawl that Mr. Draper, a Tennessee Valley Authority planner, first warned us about close to eighty years ago: diffuse, low-density construction running along strips and ribbons, leapfrogging among scattered tracts into the suburbs. For Texas, sprawl has been fueled ...

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Fire Ants!

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pp. 390-399

Red imported fire ants (RIFA), also known as Solenopsis invicta Buren, have a nasty, annoying sting, and the species is a certified member of the world of unwelcome pests. However, they are also a wonderful example of unintended consequences, global inter connectedness, and the difficulty of responding to invasive species. The Arrival The RIFA was likely introduced by accident into the...

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Lights in the Night

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pp. 400-410

Over the centuries, people have welcomed the discoveries of fire, oil lamps, candles, kerosene lanterns, gas jets, and incandescent light bulbs. These discoveries have brought light, comfort, and safety to our homes, workplaces, and communities (Bogard 2013; Schivelbusch 1988). From space, our towns and cities now sparkle and gleam like constellations on...

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Billboards

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pp. 411-422

Billboards are a powerful part of the landscape in Texas, and indeed, throughout the United States. Based on state highway agency data, modern signs are tall (over 61 percent stand more than 40 feet in height), big (they average 430 square feet), and bright (78 percent are illuminated) (White 2015). And they exist here in the tens of thousands. One stakeholder, Scenic Texas, estimates that there are 35,000 off-premise signs in the state, with...

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Solid Waste

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pp. 423-433

This is a small world; ecological benefits and harms are inevitably shared. Often, though, they are shared unequally, resulting in painful environmental injustice. The choice of solid waste sites is a good though troubling example. We sometimes read a shorthand, acronym-laced description of the problem. We learn that...

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Colonias

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pp. 434-440

In Spanish, “colonia” means a community or neighborhood. Along the US-Mexico border, however, the word has taken on a different meaning. There, it is a settlement without potable water, sewage treatment, trash collection, paved roads, electricity, or safe and clean housing. In that sense, Colonias colonias also remind us of the importance of the environmental infrastructure and policies that we all need to keep our families, friends, and towns healthy....

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The Border and the Borderlands

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pp. 441-450

The United States and Mexico share a vast 1,950-mile border that slices through landscape where wildlife and people have long lived, moved, and mixed. However, over the past twenty years, immigration, smuggling, cartel violence, and even terrorist fears have prompted efforts to close the border...

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Sparrows, Starlings, and Doves

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pp. 451-460

This is the story of the introduction of the house sparrow, European starling, and Eurasian collared dove to Texas and the New World. The chapter explains the logistics of how, when, and where the birds arrived, and then became established and later spread. Like the fire ants, nonnative fish, Old World grasses, and Chinese tallow previously discussed...

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Afterword

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pp. 461-462

This book has chapters about water, land, wildlife, air, energy, and built structures. There are discussions about lakes and aquifers, prairies and forests, bison and pelicans, ozone and lead, wind and coal, billboards and landfills. However, much of the book is really about us, seen through a kind...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 463-468

Kamlesh Lulla is a NASA earth scientist who trained many astronauts in photography and remote sensing. Dr. Lulla recalled that early Mercury and Gemini pilots lobbied to include a spacecraft window to peer through as they hurtled around Earth. Design engineers worried over safety risks in the harsh, unforgiving world of space, but ultimately relented. As a ...

Glossary

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pp. 469-497