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Conservancy Cover

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Conservancy

The Land Trust Movement in America

Richard Brewer

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.

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Contested Waters

An Environmental History of the Colorado River

By April Summit

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.

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A Contract with the Earth

Newt Gingrich and Terry L. Maple foreword by E. O. Wilson

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.

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Convergent Evolution

Limited Forms Most Beautiful

George McGhee

An analysis of convergent evolution from molecules to ecosystems, demonstrating the limited number of evolutionary pathways available to life.

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Coral Reefs of the Southern Gulf of Mexico

Edited by John W. Tunnell Jr., Ernesto A. Chávez and Kim Withers; Foreword by Sylvia Earle

Coral reefs declined worldwide during the 1980s and 1990s, making them perhaps the most endangered marine ecosystem on Earth. This realization spurred John W. Tunnell Jr. and others to write a comprehensive book that would raise awareness of coral reefs and their plight. Tunnell and coeditors Ernesto A. Chávez and Kim Withers present an integrated and broad-ranging synthesis, while Mexican and U.S. experts assess the current state of these fragile systems and offer a framework for their restoration. Beginning with a history of the research done in this region, Coral Reefs of the Southern Gulf of Mexico covers the geography, geology, oceanography, ecology, and biodiversity of the thirty-eight “emergent” or platform-type coral reefs in the southern Gulf. The editors include chapters on the biota—from algae to fish—followed by a look at environmental impacts, both natural (such as hurricanes and red tides) and human (such as ship groundings and dredging). The book closes with a discussion of conservation issues, which is both descriptive and prescriptive in its assessment of what has been done and what should be done to protect and manage these vital ecosystems.

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Corporate Crops

Biotechnology, Agriculture, and the Struggle for Control

By Gabriela Pechlaner

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Creatures Of Habitat

The Changing Nature of Wildlife and Wild Places in Utah and the Intermountain West

Mark Gerard Hengesbaugh

From flying squirrels on high wooded plateaus to hanging gardens in redrock canyons, the Intermountain West is home to some of the world's rarest and most fascinating animals and plants. Creatures of Habitat details many unique but little-known talents of this region's strange and wonderful wild inhabitants and descibes their connections with native environments. For example, readers will learn about the pronghorn antelope's supercharged cardiovascular system, a brine shrimp-powered shorebird that each year flies nonstop from the Great Salt Lake to Central Argentina, and a rare mustard plant recently discovered on Mount Ogden. Emphasizing how increasing loss and degradation of habitat hinders native species' survival, Mark Gerard Hengesbaugh discusses what is happening to wildlife and wild places and what is being done about it.

Well illustrated, this book has habitat maps, pen-and-ink illustrations, and fifty photos of wildlife and wild places selected by photo editor Dan Miller. Also included are guides to wildlife viewing and lists of Utah species, including those considered sensitive, threatened, or endangered.

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Crisis and Opportunity

Sustainability in American Agriculture

John E. Ikerd

With the decline of family farms and rural communities and the rise of corporate farming and the resulting environmental degradation, American agriculture is in crisis. But this crisis offers the opportunity to rethink agriculture in sustainable terms. Here one of the most eloquent and influential proponents of sustainable agriculture explains what this means. These engaging essays describe what sustainable agriculture is, why it began, and how it can succeed. Together they constitute a clear and compelling vision for rebalancing the ecological, economic, and social dimensions of agriculture to meet the needs of the present without compromising the future.
 
In Crisis and Opportunity, John E. Ikerd outlines the consequences of agricultural industrialization, then details the methods that can restore economic viability, ecological soundness, and social responsibility to our agricultural system and thus ensure sustainable agriculture as the foundation of a sustainable food system and a sustainable society.

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Cultivating Food Justice

Race, Class, and Sustainability

edited by Alison Hope Alkon and Julian Agyeman

Documents how racial and social inequalities are built into our food system, and how communities are creating environmentally sustainable and socially just alternatives.

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