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Culture, Conflict, and Ecology
An ecosystem in freefall, a shrinking water supply for cities and agriculture, an antiquated network of failure-prone levees—this is the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the major hub of California's water system. Written by a team of independent water experts, this analysis of the latest data evaluates proposed solutions to the Delta's myriad problems. Through in-depth economic and ecological analysis, the authors find that the current policy of channeling water exports through the Delta is not sustainable for any interest. Employing a peripheral canal-conveying water around the Delta instead of through it—as part of a larger habitat and water management plan appears to be the best strategy to maintain both a high-quality water supply and at the same time improve conditions for native fish and wildlife. This important assessment includes integrated analysis of long term ecosystem and water management options and demonstrates how issues such as climate change and sustainability will shape the future.
Published in cooperation with the Public Policy Institute of California
Braund presents the only annotated edition of Bernard Romans's rare and valuable 18th-century account of his observations in the southeastern United States.
Bernard Romans's A Concise Natural History of East and West Florida, William Bartram's Travels, and James Adair's History of the American Indian are the three most significant accounts of the southeastern United States published during the late 18th century. This new edition of Romans's Concise Natural History, edited by historian Kathryn Braund, provides the first fully annotated edition of this early and rare description of both the European settled areas and the adjoining Indian lands in what are now the states of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
Romans's purpose in producing his Concise Natural History was twofold: to aid navigators and shippers by detailing the sailing passages of the region and to promote trade and settlement in the region. To those ends, he provided detailed scientific observations on the natural history of the area, a summary of the region's political history, and an assessment of the potential for economic growth in the Floridas based on the area's natural resources.
A trained surveyor and cartographer and a self-taught naturalist, Romans supplied detailed descriptions of the region's topography and environment, including information about the climate and weather patterns, plants, animals, and diseases. He provided information about the state of scientific inquiry in the South and touched on many of the most important intellectual arguments of the day, such as the origin of the races, the practice of slavery, and the benefits and drawbacks of monopoly on trade.
In addition, Concise Natural History can be placed firmly in the genre of colonial promotional literature. Romans's book was an enthusiastic guide aimed at those seeking to establish modest holdings in the region:
"What a field is open here! . . . No country ever had such inexhaustible resources; no empire had ever half so many advantages combining in its behalf!" Romans explained how settlers should travel to the area, what they would need in terms of provisions and tools, and what it would cost to have their land surveyed. In addition to providing an abundance of practical advice, Romans also offered information about the history of earlier settlements, including the earliest and most complete account of New Smyrna near St. Augustine.
Romans also presented unique information about the various Indian tribes he encountered. In fact, historians agree that among the most useful portions of the book are Romans's descriptions of the largest Indian tribes in the 18th-century Southeast: the Creeks, Choctaws, and Chickasaws. Romans's account of the diet of the Creeks and Choctaws is one of the most complete available. And his description of the location of Choctaw village sites is one of the best sources for this information.
The Growth of Seasonal and Retirement Homes in Northern Wisconsin
Scenic rural communities across the nation and around the world have been transformed as they have shifted away from extractive industries such as agriculture, mining, and forestry and toward recreation-based development relying on tourism, vacation homes, and retirees. These communities have built new economies and identities based on local natural resources and are highly dependent on the natural environment. With these changes have come new questions: Do retirees and seasonal residents fit into their new surroundings? Do longtime and new residents share the same values and visions for the future? Do diverse community members disagree about how to manage their forest and water resources?
Condos in the Woods explores how these issues are reshaping community structure, employment, and inhabitants’ attitudes toward their environment in the Northwoods. Looking at trends from the 1970s to the present, this work moves from the national scale to the Pine Barrens region in northwestern Wisconsin and examines the approaches of residents to the management of their natural resources. At the heart of this story, the authors find that despite the diverse makeup of such communities, residents share many common goals and values and display more successful integration than previously expected.
The Land Trust Movement in America
Land trusts, or conservancies, protect land by owning it. Although many people are aware of a few large land trusts--The Nature Conservancy and the Trust for Public Land, for instance--there are now close to 1,300 local trusts, with more coming into being each month.
American land trusts are diverse, shaped by their missions and adapted to their local environments. Nonetheless, all land trusts are private, non-profit organizations for which the acquisition and protection of land by direct action is the primary or sole mission. Nonconfrontational and apolitical, land trusts work with willing land owners in voluntary transactions.
Although land trusts are the fastest-growing and most vital part of the land conservation movement today, this model of saving land by private action has become dominant only in the past two decades. Brewer tells why the advocacy model--in which private groups try to protect land by promoting government purchase or regulation-- in the 1980s was eclipsed by the burgeoning land trust movement. He gives the public a much-needed primer on what land trusts are, what they do, how they are related to one another and to other elements of the conservation and environmental movements, and their importance to conservation in the coming decades. As Brewer points out, unlike other land-saving measures, land trust accomplishments are permanent. At the end of a cooperative process between a landowner and the local land trust, the land is saved in perpetuity.
Brewer's book, the first comprehensive treatment of land trusts, combines a historical overview of the movement with more specific information on the different kinds of land trusts that exist and the problems they face. The volume also offers a "how-to" approach for persons and institutions interested in donating, selling, or buying land, discusses four major national land trusts (The Nature Conservancy, Trust for Public Land, American Farmland Trust, and Rails-to-Trails Conservancy); and gives a generous sampling of information about the activities and accomplishments of smaller, local trusts nationwide. Throughout, the book is enriched by historical narrative, analysis of successful land trusts, and information on the how and why of protecting land, as well as Brewer's intimate knowledge of ecological systems, biodiversity, and the interconnectedness of human and non-human life forms.
Conservancy is a must-read volume for people interested in land conservation--including land trust members, volunteers and supporters--as well as anyone concerned about land use and the environment.
An Environmental History of the Colorado River
The Colorado River is a vital resource to urban and agricultural communities across the Southwest, providing water to 30 million people. Contested Waters tells the river’s story— a story of conquest, control, division, and depletion.
Beginning in prehistory and continuing into the present day, Contested Waters focuses on three important and often overlooked aspects of the river’s use: the role of western water law in its over-allocation, the complexity of power relationships surrounding the river, and the concept of sustainable use and how it has been either ignored or applied in recent times. It is organized in two parts, the first addresses the chronological history of the river and long-term issues, while the second examines in more detail four specific topics: metropolitan perceptions, American Indian water rights, US-Mexico relations over the river, and water marketing issues. Creating a complete picture of the evolution of this crucial yet over-utilized resource, this comprehensive summary will fascinate anyone interested in the Colorado River or the environmental history of the Southwest.
Focusing the environmental debate on the principle of common commitment, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and eminent conservationist Terry L. Maple present A Contract with the Earth. They declare a need for bipartisan environmentalism—a new era of environmental stewardship with principles that they believe most Americans will share. While acknowledging that liberals and conservatives do not see eye to eye on many issues, Gingrich and Maple argue successfully that environmental stewardship is a mainstream value that transcends partisan politics. Their thoughtful approaches to our environmental challenges are based on three main premises: environmental leadership is integral to America's role in the world, technologically savvy environmental entrepreneurs can and should be the cornerstone of environmental solutions, and cooperation and incentives must be dramatically increased to achieve workable and broadly supported environmental solutions. Gingrich and Maple believe that most people—regardless of how they categorize themselves politically—are weary of the legal and political conflicts that prevent individuals and communities from realizing the benefits of environmental conservation. The foundation of the book—a ten-point Contract with the Earth—promotes ingenuity over rhetoric as the way forward.