Discovering the Unknown Landscape A History of America's Wetlands

ISBN-10: 1559633158

ISBN-13: 9781559633154

Edition: 1997

Authors: Ann Vileisis

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Description:

The rapidly disappearing wetlands that once spread so abundantly across the American continent serve an essential and irreplaceable ecological function. Yet for centuries, Americans have viewed them with disdain. Beginning with the first European settlers, we have thought of them as sinkholes of disease and death, as landscapes that were worse than useless unless they could be drained, filled, paved or otherwise "improved." As neither dry land, which can be owned and controlled by individuals, nor bodies of water, which are considered a public resource, wetlands have in recent years been at the center of controversy over issues of environmental protection and property rights.The confusion and contention that surround wetland issues today are the products of a long and convoluted history. In Discovering the Unknown Landscape, Anne Vileisis presents a fascinating look at that history, exploring how Americans have thought about and used wetlands from Colonial times through the present day. She discusses the many factors that influence patterns of land use -- ideology, economics, law, perception, art -- and examines the complicated interactions among those factors that have resulted in our contemporary landscape. As well as chronicling the march of destruction, she considers our seemingly contradictory tradition of appreciating wetlands: artistic and literary representations, conservation during the Progressive Era, and recent legislation aimed at slowing or stopping losses.Discovering the Unknown Landscape is an intriguing synthesis of social and environmental history, and a valuable examination of how cultural attitudes shape the physical world that surrounds us. It provides important context to current debates, and clearly illustrates the stark contrast between centuries of beliefs and policies and recent attempts to turn those longstanding beliefs and policies around. Vileisis's clear and engaging prose provides a new and compelling understanding of modern-day environmental conflicts.
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Book details

List price: $45.00
Copyright year: 1997
Publisher: Island Press
Publication date: 9/1/1999
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 445
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.25" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.298
Language: English

Preface
A Landscape on the Periphery
A Mosaic of Native Swamps. Bogs, and Marshes
A Nation Founded on Wetlands
Exploring the Unknown Landscape
The Drainage Imperative Codified
Wetlands Portrayed and Envisioned
Machines in the Wetland Gardens
New Voices for the Wetlands
The Double Agenda
In the Path of the Boom
Citizens and Lawmakers Enlist in the Wetlands Cause
Federal Bulldozers and Draglines
With New Tools in Hand
The Reagan Agenda Challenges Wetland Gains
Making and Breaking the Farm Connection
A Contentious Era for Wetlands
The Promise of Restoration
The Lessons of History
Notes
Some Common and Scientific Names of Wetland Plants
Acknowledgments
Index
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