The Chesapeake: An Environmental Biography

The Chesapeake: An Environmental Biography

by John R. Wennersten
Pub. Date:
The Maryland Historical Society

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The Chesapeake: An Environmental Biography

A Beautiful Expanse of blue water, America's most storied estuary, home to important maritime and recreational pursuits, and linked to clear-running rivers. OR a brooding body of water, filled with toxins, lacking nutrients, and dying an inexorable death. After decades of efforts to "Save the Bay," with the bay still sick, this timely book reviews the whole environmental history of the bay, showing why and how the sickness has been cumulative from colonial times to the present. The Chesapeake Bay is often called the Crown Jewel of Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic region. Born in an ice age a mere 20,000 years ago, the bay has 5,000 miles of shoreline and is the heart of a watershed of 64,900 square miles. Its drainage area equals the geography of six New England states. Its tributaries are impressive: the James, the Potomac, the Susquehanna, the Rappahannock, the Patapsco. Washington, Richmond, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, and all places among and between, depend on the health of the bay. What is known, what is yet to be learned about the long-term health of the Chesapeake, bears on the health of waters around the world.

This strong, highly readable narrative by a long-time resident and student of the Chesapeake region begins with the clash of cultures between Native Americans and Europeans and moves forward compellingly to today's complex suburban sprawl. It is a comprehensive history of the Chesapeake region from the era when tobacco was king and the land was severely deforested, through the great days of fishing -- and over-fishing -- the bay, to the oyster wars, to the times of entrepreneurial greed that filled the tributary rivers with toxins. Equally important, this is a narrative of the political, scientific, and grassroots efforts to clean up the bay since the modern environmental movement began, and how those efforts have been affected by bureaucratic turf fights, confusing regulations, and successful lobbying by special interests. Perhaps the most important contribution of this book is its synthesis of existing ideas for public policy for the bay and the region, ideas that too often have been thwarted or lost in the confusion of too many agencies. From this, you can form your own conclusions and work out your own environmental aesthetic for the bay. Here is sound history, well and entertainingly told, that flows directly into our own times, our own dilemmas.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780938420750
Publisher: The Maryland Historical Society
Publication date: 01/01/2001
Series: Maryland Historical Society Series
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 954,442
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)
Age Range: Up to 18 Years

Table of Contents

Chapter 1The New World Environment of Chesapeake Bay3
Chapter 2Tobacco Culture and Deforestation38
Chapter 3Ecological Transformations: Agriculture, Internal Improvements, and Town Development69
Chapter 4The Age of the Oystermen and the Tragedy of the Commons109
Chapter 5Engineering, Pollution, and Conservation: Early Problems of Chesapeake Bay Management140
Chapter 6Is the Chesapeake Dying?177
Chapter 7Epilogue: The Changing Chesapeake217
Bibliographical Note235

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