Sparsely settled mountain areas of the world, such as Colorado’s Front Range, give an impression of wild, untouched, and unchanging nature. Yet in many cases mountain rivers that appear to be pristine natural systems actually have been impaired as a result of human activities. In this timely and accessible book, Ellen Wohl documents two hundred years of land-use patterns on the Front Range and their wide-ranging effects on river ecosystems.
If we hope to manage river resources effectively and preserve functioning river ecosystems, the author warns, we must recognize how beaver trapping, placer mining, timber harvesting, flow regulation, road and railroad construction, recreation, cattle grazing, and other human activities have impaired rivers--and continue to do so. The rivers of the Colorado Front Range are representative of mountain rivers throughout the world: land-use patterns affecting their form and function are little-recognized or -understood. This book fills an important gap with a clear and comprehensive explanation of how rivers are changed by human activity and includes a generous selection of striking historical and contemporary photographs, maps, and diagrams.