Of Rock and Rivers: Seeking a Sense of Place in the American West

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University of California Press, Jun 8, 2009 - Nature - 288 pages
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This beautifully written and deeply personal collection of essays paints a progressive view of the American West as seen by a geologist. Ellen Wohl traces her twenty years of living and conducting research in the natural landscapes of the West as she investigates the conflict between environmental history and widely held romanticized views of the region. Wohl grew up in Ohio, subscribing to a common perception of the American West as an unchanged frontier. Moving to Arizona, she became enthralled with how the landscapes and ecosystems of the West have undergone change, both through geologic time and during the historical era of European settlement. These essays tell of her early training as a geomorphologist and provide a memorable account of her research in the rivers of the West. As the lessons accrue, Wohl gives us the benefit of her experience and shows how years of studying and living in the Colorado Rockies have enhanced her understanding of landscape change through time. Building on the literary tradition of Joseph Wood Krutch, Terry Tempest Williams, and John McPhee, Wohl provides an up-to-date portrait of the West and brings a new urgency to the call for conservation of the region's land, water, and resources.
 

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A gem of a book for Coloradoans interested in the environment we take for granted. Science dominates, but the storytelling and writing is good.

Contents

Discovering the West
1
The Western Reserve
3
A Sense of Space
15
Paradise Found
36
Paradise Lost
53
The Delicate Strength of Rock
72
The Western Rampart
89
Where the Winds Live
108
Let It Snow
143
Equifinality
153
What Is Natural?
169
The Disillusioned Angler
180
Poisoning the Well
192
Adventures in the Still Unknown Interior of North America
232
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES AND FURTHER READING
241
INDEX
261

Inheriting the Past
121
Colorado Burning
123

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About the author (2009)

Ellen Wohl is Professor of Geology at Colorado State University and the author of Disconnected Rivers and Virtual Rivers, as well as Rain Forest into Desert.

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