Virtual Rivers

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Sandra Postel
Wohl masterfully combines scientific knowledge, historical analysis, and a passion for mountain landscapes in a compelling look at what humans have done to rivers and what we need to do to restore and protect them.
Choice
Applicable to other mountain river systems around the world. . .Nontechnical language; extensive citations of technical literature; historical analysis. Recommended.
Dennis H. Knight
An excellent review of stream ecology and the steps that can be taken to restore the aesthetic and biological values of rivers that now are more widely appreciated than before.
Cathy M. Tate
Ellen Wohl urges us to look beyond what we see: just because a river looks natural does not mean it is natural. She shows us the cumulative effects of human activity on a river system in a simple yet technically correct way.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300183108
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2011
  • Pages: 226
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.52 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Of Rivers and Virtual Rivers 1
The Study of Rivers 9
Human Impacts on Rivers 11
The Physical Framework 15
Biological Communities 26
Virtual Rivers 34
Before the Europeans 37
The Beaver Men, 1811-1859 41
Civilization Comes to the Front Range, 1859-1990 52
Gold Fever 52
Timber Harvest and Tie Drives 89
A Plumbing System for Crops 101
Roads 125
Recreation 137
Grazing 139
The End Result? 145
The Present, and the Future 149
Instream Flow 153
Urbanization 161
Water Quality and Ecotoxicology 163
River Form Versus River Function 167
Respect for Rivers 172
Appendix 179
Notes 181
Index 209
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