Environmental History of the Hudson River

Human Uses that Changed the Ecology, Ecology that Changed Human Uses

eISBN-13: 9781438440286

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Winner of the 2012 Award for Excellence presented by the Greater Hudson Heritage Network

The diverse contributions to Environmental History of the Hudson River examine how the natural and physical attributes of the river have influenced human settlement and uses, and how human occupation has, in turn, affected the ecology and environmental health of the river. The Hudson River Valley may be America's premier river environmental laboratory, and by bringing historians and social scientists together with biologists and other physical scientists, this book hopes to foster new ways of looking at and talking about this historically, commercially, and aesthetically important ecosystem.

Native people's influences on the ecological integrity of aquatic and shoreline communities were generally local and minor, and for the first 12,000 years or so of human use, the Hudson River was valued mainly as a source of water, food, and transportation. Since the arrival of European colonists, however, commerce has been the engine that has driven development and use of the river, from the harvesting of beaver pelts and timber to the siting of manufacturing industries and power plants, and all of these uses have had pervasive effects on the river's aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. In the meantime, aesthetic movements such as the Hudson River School of painting have sought to recover and preserve the earlier pastoral landscape, anticipating the more recent efforts by environmentalists that have led to dramatic improvements in water quality, shoreline habitats, and fish populations.

Despite the pervasive forces of commerce, the Hudson River has retained its world-class scenic qualities. The Upper Hudson remains today a free-flowing, tumbling mountain stream, and the Lower Hudson a fjord penetrated and dominated by the Hudson Highlands. The Hudson's unique history continues to affect current uses and will surely influence the future in remarkable ways.

ISBNs 1438440286, 9781438440286, 9781438440262
Language English