In this comprehensive, one-volume reference, Nature Conservancy scientist Bryan P. Piazza poses five key questions: —What is the Atchafalaya River Basin? —Why is it important? —How have its hydrology and natural habitats been managed? —What is its current state? —How do we ensure its survival? For more than five centuries, the Atchafalaya River Basin has captured the flow of the Mississippi River, becoming its main distributary as it reaches the Gulf of Mexico in south Louisiana. This dynamic environment, comprising almost a million acres of the lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley and Mississippi River Deltaic Plain, is perhaps best known for its expansive swamp environments dominated by baldcypress, water tupelo, and alligators. But the Atchafalaya River Basin contains a wide range of habitats and one of the highest levels of biodiversity on the North American continent. Piazza has compiled and synthesized the body of scientific knowledge for the Atchafalaya River Basin, documenting the ecological state of the basin and providing a baseline of understanding. His research provides a crucial resource for future planning. He evaluates some common themes that have emerged from the research and identifies important scientific questions that remain unexplored.
Author: Gwen Roland
Publisher: LSU Press
In the early 1970s, two idealistic young people -- Gwen Carpenter Roland and Calvin Voisin -- decided to leave civilization and re-create the vanished simple life of their great-grandparents in the heart of Louisiana's million-acre Atchafalaya River Basin Swamp. Armed with a box of crayons and a book called How to Build Your Home in the Woods, they drew up plans to recycle a slave-built structure into a houseboat. Without power tools or building experience they constructed a floating dwelling complete with a brick fireplace. Towed deep into the sleepy waters of Bloody Bayou, it was their home for eight years. This is the tale of the not-so-simple life they made together -- days spent fishing, trading, making wine, growing food, and growing up -- told by Gwen with grace, economy, and eloquence. Not long after they took up swamp living, Gwen and Calvin met a young photographer named C. C. Lockwood, who shared their "back to the earth" values. His photographs of the couple going about their daily routine were published in National Geographic magazine, bringing them unexpected fame. More than a quarter of a century later, after Gwen and Calvin had long since parted, one of Lockwood's photos of them appeared in a National Geographic collector's edition entitled 100 Best Pictures Unpublished -- and kindled the interest of a new generation. With quiet wisdom, Gwen recounts her eight-year voyage of discovery -- about swamp life, wildlife, and herself. A keen observer of both the natural world and the ways of human beings, she transports readers to an unfamiliar and exotic place.
Designing the Bayous
Author: Martin Reuss
Publisher: Texas A&M University Press
Louisiana’s Atchafalaya River Basin is one of the most dynamic and critical environments in the country. It sustains the nation’s last cypress-tupelo wetland and provides a habitat for many species of animals. Endowed with natural gas and oil fields, the basin also supports a large commercial fisheries industry. Perhaps most crucial, it remains a primary component of the plan to control the Mississippi River and relieve flooding in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and other communities in the lower river valley. The continuing health of the basin is a reflection not of nature, but of the work of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. With levee building and clearing in the nineteenth century and damming, dredging, and floodway construction in the twentieth, the basin was converted from a vast forested swamp into a designer wetland, where human aspirations and nature maintained a precarious equilibrium. Originally published by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers primarily for internal distribution, this environmental and political history of the Atchafalaya Basin is an unflinching account of the transformation of an area that has endured perhaps more human manipulation than any other natural environment in the nation. Martin Reuss provides a new preface to bring us up-to-date on the state of the basin, which remains both an engineering contrivance and natural wonder.
Author: Ernest Zebrowski, Mariah Zebrowski Leach
Publisher: Univ. Press of Mississippi
Hydrocarbon Hucksters is the saga of the oil industry’s takeover of Louisiana—its leaders, its laws, its environment, and, by rechanneling the flow of public information, its voters. It is a chronicle of mindboggling scientific and technical triumphs sharing the same public stew with myths about the “goodness” of oil and bald-faced public lies by politicians and the captains of industry. It is a story of money and power, greed and corruption, jingoism and exploitation, pollution and disease, and the bewilderment and resignation of too many of the powerless. Most importantly, Hydrocarbon Hucksters is a case study of what happens when a state uncritically hands the oil and petrochemical industries everything they desire. Today, Louisiana ranks at or near the bottom of the fifty states on virtually every measure related to the quality of life—income, health, education, environment, public services, public safety, physical infrastructure, and vulnerability to disasters (both natural and man-made). Nor, contrary to the claims of the hydrocarbon sector, has there been much in the way of job creation to offset all of this social grief. The authors (one a scientist, the other an environmental lawyer) have woven together the science, legal history, economic issues, and national and global contexts of what has happened. Their objective is to raise enough national awareness to prevent other parts of the United States from repeating Louisiana’s historical follies. The authors are uncle and niece, a generation apart, who have melded their conclusions from two separate tracks.
This sweeping study traces the development of water policy in the United States from the 19th century to the present day, exploring the role of legislation in appropriating access to water to the American people. • Addresses recent events including the handling of Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill in the Gulf • Consolidates difficult-to-locate documents on United States water policy • Covers topics as diverse as water doctrine, water rights, pollution control, wildlife conservation, invasive species regulation, and environmental damage mitigation • Describes the impact of climate change on water supply and safety • Focuses solely on the water issues affecting the United States
Author: Jeffrey J. Opperman, Peter B. Moyle, Joan L. Florsheim, Eric W. Larsen, Amber D. Manfree
Publisher: Univ of California Press
"Floodplains provides an overview of floodplains and their management in temperate regions. It synthesizes decades of research on floodplain ecosystems, explaining hydrologic, geomorphic and ecological processes and how these processes can provide a range of benefits to society under appropriate management. Due to the widespread alteration of temperate floodplains, these benefits are often not realized. Drawing on the framework of reconciliation ecology, the authors explore how new concepts for floodplain ecosystem restoration and management can provide a broader range of benefits to society, ranging from healthy fish populations to flood-risk reduction. Case studies from California's Central Valley and elsewhere in temperate regions show how innovative management approaches are reshaping rivers and floodplains around the world."--Provided by publisher.
The Louisiana Coast
Author: Gay M. Gomez
Publisher: Texas A&M University Press
Hurricane Katrina gave the nation an urgent reminder of the extent and value of Louisiana’s wetlands when daily discussions of subsidence and sedimentation revealed how much ordinary coastal processes affect humanity—and vice versa. Now, with a native Louisiana naturalist as a guide, readers can learn how best to enjoy, appreciate, and protect this vanishing landscape. Part natural history and part field guide, The Louisiana Coast takes readers across one of only three major chenier plains in the world to the Atchafalaya Basin, the largest river basin swamp on the continent, and through the network of bayous, natural levees, cypress swamps, marshes, and barrier islands of the Deltaic Plain. Color photographs illustrate chapters on vegetation, wildlife, and the rich human culture that defines Louisiana. With the intimate knowledge of one whose life has been shaped by this remarkable environment, author Gay M. Gomez leads visitors to nature trails, wildlife refuges, Audubon sanctuaries, and parks. A visitor’s guide at the end of the book features destinations open to the public for wildlife watching, photography, and even hunting, fishing, crabbing, and cast netting. Everyone who lives in or visits Louisiana and anyone interested in the conservation, ecology, natural history, and geography of the region will appreciate Gomez’s exploration of the land, its people, its resources, and its vulnerabilities. The Louisiana Coast will encourage readers to share the author’s love for this vital, distinct, and beautiful place.
Author: Mike Tidwell
The Cajun coast of Louisiana is home to a way of life as unique, complex, and beautiful as the terrain itself. As award-winning travel writer Mike Tidwell journeys through the bayou, he introduces us to the food and the language, the shrimp fisherman, the Houma Indians, and the rich cultural history that makes it unlike any other place in the world. But seeing the skeletons of oak trees killed by the salinity of the groundwater, and whole cemeteries sinking into swampland and out of sight, Tidwell also explains why each introduction may be a farewell—as the storied Louisiana coast steadily erodes into the Gulf of Mexico. Part travelogue, part environmental exposé, Bayou Farewell is the richly evocative chronicle of the author's travels through a world that is vanishing before our eyes. From the Trade Paperback edition.
The Control of Nature
Author: John McPhee
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
While John McPhee was working on his previous book, Rising from the Plains, he happened to walk by the engineering building at the University of Wyoming, where words etched in limestone said: "Strive on--the control of Nature is won, not given." In the morning sunlight, that central phrase--"the control of nature"--seemed to sparkle with unintended ambiguity. Bilateral, symmetrical, it could with equal speed travel in opposite directions. For some years, he had been planning a book about places in the world where people have been engaged in all-out battles with nature, about (in the words of the book itself) "any struggle against natural forces--heroic or venal, rash or well advised--when human beings conscript themselves to fight against the earth, to take what is not given, to rout the destroying enemy, to surround the base of Mt. Olympus demanding and expecting the surrender of the gods." His interest had first been sparked when he went into the Atchafalaya--the largest river swamp in North America--and had learned that virtually all of its waters were metered and rationed by a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' project called Old River Control. In the natural cycles of the Mississippi's deltaic plain, the time had come for the Mississippi to change course, to shift its mouth more than a hundred miles and go down the Atchafalaya, one of its distributary branches. The United States could not afford that--for New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and all the industries that lie between would be cut off from river commerce with the rest of the nation. At a place called Old River, the Corps therefore had built a great fortress--part dam, part valve--to restrain the flow of the Atchafalaya and compel the Mississippi to stay where it is. In Iceland, in 1973, an island split open without warning and huge volumes of lava began moving in the direction of a harbor scarcely half a mile away. It was not only Iceland's premier fishing port (accounting for a large percentage of Iceland's export economy) but it was also the only harbor along the nation's southern coast. As the lava threatened to fill the harbor and wipe it out, a physicist named Thorbjorn Sigurgeirsson suggested a way to fight against the flowing red rock--initiating an all-out endeavor unique in human history. On the big island of Hawaii, one of the world's two must eruptive hot spots, people are not unmindful of the Icelandic example. McPhee went to Hawaii to talk with them and to walk beside the edges of a molten lake and incandescent rivers. Some of the more expensive real estate in Los Angeles is up against mountains that are rising and disintegrating as rapidly as any in the world. After a complex coincidence of natural events, boulders will flow out of these mountains like fish eggs, mixed with mud, sand, and smaller rocks in a cascading mass known as debris flow. Plucking up trees and cars, bursting through doors and windows, filling up houses to their eaves, debris flows threaten the lives of people living in and near Los Angeles' famous canyons. At extraordinary expense the city has built a hundred and fifty stadium-like basins in a daring effort to catch the debris. Taking us deep into these contested territories, McPhee details the strategies and tactics through which people attempt to control nature. Most striking in his vivid depiction of the main contestants: nature in complex and awesome guises, and those who would attempt to wrest control from her--stubborn, often ingenious, and always arresting characters.
The World's Largest Wetlands
Author: Lauchlan H. Fraser, Paul A. Keddy
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Experts share their understanding of the ecology of large wetlands, their significance and their conservation.
Covers the area between the Amazon and Orinoco rivers, the Cassiquiare Canal, and the Atlantic Ocean (Guyana, French Guiana, Suriname, parts of Brazil, parts of Venezuela).
Oil in the Environment
Author: John A. Wiens
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
What light does nearly 25 years of scientific study of the Exxon Valdez oil spill shed on the fate and effects of a spill? How can the results help in assessing future spills? How can ecological risks be assessed and quantified? In this, the first book on the effects of Exxon Valdez in 15 years, scientists directly involved in studying the spill provide a comprehensive perspective on, and synthesis of, scientific information on long-term spill effects. The coverage is multidisciplinary, with chapters discussing a range of issues including effects on biota, successes and failures of post-spill studies and techniques, and areas of continued disagreement. An even-handed and critical examination of more than two decades of scientific study, this is an invaluable guide for studying future oil spills and, more broadly, for unraveling the consequences of any large environmental disruption. For access to a full bibliography of related publications, follow the Resources link at www.cambridge.org/9781107027176.
Mississippi River Water Quality and the Clean Water Act
Author: National Research Council, Division on Earth and Life Studies, Water Science and Technology Board, Committee on the Mississippi River and the Clean Water Act
Publisher: National Academies Press
The Mississippi River is, in many ways, the nation's best known and most important river system. Mississippi River water quality is of paramount importance for sustaining the many uses of the river including drinking water, recreational and commercial activities, and support for the river's ecosystems and the environmental goods and services they provide. The Clean Water Act, passed by Congress in 1972, is the cornerstone of surface water quality protection in the United States, employing regulatory and nonregulatory measures designed to reduce direct pollutant discharges into waterways. The Clean Water Act has reduced much pollution in the Mississippi River from "point sources" such as industries and water treatment plants, but problems stemming from urban runoff, agriculture, and other "non-point sources" have proven more difficult to address. This book concludes that too little coordination among the 10 states along the river has left the Mississippi River an "orphan" from a water quality monitoring and assessment perspective. Stronger leadership from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is needed to address these problems. Specifically, the EPA should establish a water quality data-sharing system for the length of the river, and work with the states to establish and achieve water quality standards. The Mississippi River corridor states also should be more proactive and cooperative in their water quality programs. For this effort, the EPA and the Mississippi River states should draw upon the lengthy experience of federal-interstate cooperation in managing water quality in the Chesapeake Bay.