Book ID: CBB001451509

Wide Rivers Crossed: The South Platte and the Illinois of the American Prairie (2013)


Wohl, Ellen E. (Author)

University Press of Colorado

Publication Date: 2013
Physical Details: v + 344 pp.
Language: English

In Wide Rivers Crossed, Ellen Wohl tells the stories of two rivers---the South Platte on the western plains and the Illinois on the eastern---to represent the environmental history and historical transformation of major rivers across the American prairie. Wohl begins with the rivers' natural histories, including their geologic history, physical characteristics, ecological communities, and earliest human impacts, and follows a downstream and historical progression from the use of the rivers' resources by European immigrants through increasing population density of the twentieth century to the present day. During the past two centuries, these rivers changed dramatically, mostly due to human interaction. Crops replaced native vegetation; excess snowmelt and rainfall carried fertilizers and pesticides into streams; and levees, dams, and drainage altered distribution. These changes cascaded through networks, starting in small headwater tributaries, and reduced the ability of rivers to supply the clean water, fertile soil, and natural habitats they had provided for centuries. Understanding how these rivers, and rivers in general, function and how these functions have been altered over time will allow us to find innovative approaches to restoring river ecosystems. The environmental changes in the South Platte and the Illinois reflect the relentless efforts by humans to control the distribution of water: to enhance surface water in the arid western prairie and to limit the spread of floods and drain the wetlands along the rivers in the water-abundant east. Wide Rivers Crossed looks at these historical changes and discusses opportunities for much-needed protection and restoration for the future.

Reviewed By

Review Trimble, Stanley W. (2014) Review of "Wide Rivers Crossed: The South Platte and the Illinois of the American Prairie". Environmental History (pp. 782-784). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Tvedt, Terje
Wang, Qianjin
Kibel, Paul Stanton
Ross, John
Quivik, Frederic L.
Gardner, Robert B.
History and Technology
Environmental History
Guangxi Minzu Xueyuan Xuebao
Journal of the History of Biology
I. B. Tauris
MIT Press
Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
University of Chicago Press
Ohio University Press
Oregon State University Press
Environmental sciences
Water resource management
Environmental history
Patrick, Ruth
United States
Great Plains (North America)
Adige River (Italy)
20th century
20th century, late
20th century, early
21st century
19th century
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia

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