Where Land and Water Meet: A Western Landscape Transformed

Paperback | January 9, 2006

byNancy LangstonForeword byWilliam Cronon

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Water and land interrelate in surprising and ambiguous ways, and riparian zones, where land and water meet, have effects far outside their boundaries. Using the Malheur Basin in southeastern Oregon as a case study, this intriguing and nuanced book explores the ways people have envisioned boundaries between water and land, the ways they have altered these places, and the often unintended results.

The Malheur Basin, once home to the largest cattle empires in the world, experienced unintended widespread environmental degradation in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. After establishment in 1908 of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge as a protected breeding ground for migratory birds, and its expansion in the 1930s and 1940s, the area experienced equally extreme intended modifications aimed at restoring riparian habitat. Refuge managers ditched wetlands, channelized rivers, applied Agent Orange and rotenone to waterways, killed beaver, and cut down willows. Where Land and Water Meet examines the reasoning behind and effects of these interventions, gleaning lessons from their successes and failures.

Although remote and specific, the Malheur Basin has myriad ecological and political connections to much larger places. This detailed look at one tangled history of riparian restoration shows how—through appreciation of the complexity of environmental and social influences on land use, and through effective handling of conflict—people can learn to practice a style of pragmatic adaptive resource management that avoids rigid adherence to single agendas and fosters improved relationships with the land.

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Water and land interrelate in surprising and ambiguous ways, and riparian zones, where land and water meet, have effects far outside their boundaries. Using the Malheur Basin in southeastern Oregon as a case study, this intriguing and nuanced book explores the ways people have envisioned boundaries between water and land, the ways they...

Nancy Langston is associate professor of environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is the author of Forest Dreams, Forest Nightmares: The Paradox of Old Growth in the Inland West.

other books by Nancy Langston

Toxic Bodies: Hormone Disruptors and the Legacy of DES
Toxic Bodies: Hormone Disruptors and the Legacy of DES

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:248 pages, 9.02 × 5.98 × 0.68 inPublished:January 9, 2006Publisher:University Of Washington PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0295984996

ISBN - 13:9780295984995

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Table of Contents

Foreword/On the Margins, by William Cronon

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction

1/Ranchers in the Malheur Lake Basin2/Conflicts between Ranchers and Homesteaders3/Buying the Blitzen4/Managing Ducks5/Grazing, Floods, and Fish6/Pragmatic Adaptive Management

NotesSelected BibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

Water and land interrelate in surprising and ambiguous ways, and riparian zones, where land and water meet, have effects far outside their boundaries. Using the Malheur Basin in southeastern Oregon as a case study, this intriguing and nuanced book explores the ways people have envisioned boundaries between water and land, the ways they have altered these places, and the often unintended results.The Malheur Basin, once home to the largest cattle empires in the world, experienced unintended widespread environmental degradation in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. After establishment in 1908 of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge as a protected breeding ground for migratory birds, and its expansion in the 1930s and 1940s, the area experienced equally extreme intended modifications aimed at restoring riparian habitat. Refuge managers ditched wetlands, channelized rivers, applied Agent Orange and rotenone to waterways, killed beaver, and cut down willows. Where Land and Water Meet examines the reasoning behind and effects of these interventions, gleaning lessons from their successes and failures.Although remote and specific, the Malheur Basin has myriad ecological and political connections to much larger places. This detailed look at one tangled history of riparian restoration shows how—through appreciation of the complexity of environmental and social influences on land use, and through effective handling of conflict—people can learn to practice a style of pragmatic adaptive resource management that avoids rigid adherence to single agendas and fosters improved relationships with the land. Where Land and Water Meet, in a profoundly insightful manner, details the story of social forces at play in managing the ecology of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Oregon. I grew up in the same territory, in agriculture, managing land and water, responsible for mistakes just like those made at Malheur, and it looks to me as if Nancy Langston's got the story dead right. But she gives us more than history, she also proposes a useable problem-solving model. This book is a gift. The American West, and the world, need many more like it. - William Kittredge, author of Owning It All