Water and land interrelate in surprising and ambiguous ways, and riparian zones, where land and water meet, have effects far outside their boundaries. Using the Malheur Basin in southeastern Oregon as a case study, this intriguing and nuanced book explores the ways people have envisioned boundaries between water and land, the ways they have altered these places, and the often unintended results. The Malheur Basin, once home to the largest cattle empires in the world, experienced unintended widespread environmental degradation in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. After establishment in 1908 of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge as a protected breeding ground for migratory birds, and its expansion in the 1930s and 1940s, the area experienced equally extreme intended modifications aimed at restoring riparian habitat.Refuge managers ditched wetlands, channelized rivers, applied Agent Orange and rotenone to waterways, killed beaver, and cut down willows. Where Land and Water Meet examines the reasoning behind and effects of these interventions, gleaning lessons from their successes and failures. Although remote and specific, the Malheur Basin has myriad ecological and political connections to much larger places. This detailed look at one tangled history of riparian restoration shows how - through appreciation of the complexity of environmental and social influences on land use, and through effective handling of conflict - people can learn to practice a style of pragmatic adaptive resource management that avoids rigid adherence to single agendas and fosters improved relationships with the land. Nancy Langston is associate professor of environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is the author of "Forest Dreams, Forest Nightmares: The Paradox of Old Growth in the Inland West".
"In the remote wetlands of eastern Oregon's Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Nancy Langston has found a new western parable. Where Land and Water Meet is an engaging history of desolate high desert wetlands with vital implications for natural landscapes everywhere."--Ann Vileisis, author of Discovering the Unknown Landscape: A History of America's Wetlands "Tightly argued, cogent, and eminently readable ... Where Land and Water Meet will find a wide readership among ... historians, range managers, ranchers, and environmental groups."--Mark Fiege, author of Irrigated Eden: The Making of an Agricultural Landscape in the American West "Langston combines rigorous historical scholarship, rich knowledge of ecological science, and thoughtful criticism of past and present natural resource management with a scrupulously fair-minded effort to understand the motives of different human actors, seeking always for ways in which history can make genuine practical contributions to contemporary management and policy."--From the Foreword by William Cronon "Where Land and Water meet, in a profoundly insightful manner, details the story of social forces at play in managing the ecology of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Oregon. I grew up in the same territory, in agriculture, managing land and water, responsible for mistakes just like those made at malheur, and it looks to me as if Nancy Langston's got the story dead right. But she gives us more than history, she also proposes a useable problem-solving model. This book is a gift. The American West, and the world, need many more like it." -- William Kittredge, author of Owning it All