Advertisement

Human Ecology

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 183–213 | Cite as

Shifting Boundaries on a Wisconsin Landscape: Can GIS Help Historians Tell a Complicated Story?

  • Lynne Heasley
Article

Abstract

This paper considers the promise that geographic information systems (GIS) hold for addressing complex historical questions. Using my experience as an environmental historian who has used GIS in a case study of the Kickapoo Valley in Wisconsin, I examine social and ecological processes of rural transformation during the twentieth century, and how these processes have shaped modern property rights debates. The multiscale range of GIS brings out the crucial issue of scale in the Kickapoo Valley's environmental history. Spatial analysis offers an important picture of landscape dynamics and land ownership in the Valley since the 1930s. Together with historical methods, GIS maps help explore the ways in which residents have constructed their own stories about property and the environment. These cultural narratives include the economic inevitability of land concentration and fragmentation, ethnic differences in land use, local places vs. the federal government, and local communities vs. newer outsiders. Results from the GIS illustrate my argument that change on the ground over many decades—rather than any inherent ideological resistance to federal policies—might better explain contemporary debates over private and public property. Finally, I use this research to outline the dilemmas faced by scholars in the humanities and social sciences who want to incorporate GIS into their own interdisciplinary studies.

environmental history GIS landscape land tenure property rights Kickapoo Valley Amish Wisconsin 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Appalachian Land Ownership Task Force (1983). Who Owns Appalachia? Land Ownership and Its Impact, University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, KY.Google Scholar
  2. Ayres Associates (1995). Digital orthophotography for Vernon County, Wisconsin. Ayres Associates, Eau Claire, WI.Google Scholar
  3. Bean, H. A. A. (2000). Toward an Anabaptist/Mennonite environmental ethic. In Redekop, C. (ed.), Creation and the Environment: An Anabaptist Perspective on a Sustainable World, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD pp. 183-205.Google Scholar
  4. Berry, W. (1981). Seven Amish Farms. In The Gift of the Good Land: Further Essays Cultural and Agricultural, North Point Press, San Francisco, CA, pp. 249-263.Google Scholar
  5. Blake, K. V., Cardamone, E. A., Hall, S. D., Harris, G. R., Moore, S. M. (1997). Modern Amish farming as ecological agriculture. Society and Natural Resources 10: 143-159.Google Scholar
  6. Bromley, D. W. (1993). Regulatory takings: Coherent concept or logical contradiction? Vermont Law Review 17(3): 647-682.Google Scholar
  7. Bromley, D. W. (1998). Rousseau's revenge: The demise of the freehold estate. Jacobs, H. M. (ed.), Madison, WI, In Who Owns America? Social Conflict Over Property Rights University of Wisconsin Press, pp. 19-28.Google Scholar
  8. Burgi, M., Russell, E. W. B., and Motzkin G. (2000). Effects of postsettlement human activities on forest composition in the north-eastern United States: A comparative approach. Journal of Biogeography 27: 1123-1138.Google Scholar
  9. Carney, J. and Watts, M. (1990). Manufacturing dissent: Work, gender and the politics of meaning in a peasant society. Africa 60(2): 207-237.Google Scholar
  10. Christensen, N. L. (1989). Landscape history and ecological change. Journal of Forest History 33: 116-124.Google Scholar
  11. Christman, J. (1994). The Myth of Property: Toward an Egalitarian Theory of Ownership. Oxford, University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  12. Cronon, W. (1992). A place for stories: Nature, history, and narrative. Journal of American History 78(4): 1347-1376.Google Scholar
  13. Danbom, D. B. (1995). Born in the Country: A History of Rural America, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.Google Scholar
  14. Dingle, R. H. (1993). Nothing But Conservation Roy H. Dingle, Richland Center, WI.Google Scholar
  15. Emanuelsson, U. (1988). A model for describing the development of the cultural landscape. In H. Birks, H. Birks, P. Kaland, and D. Moe (eds.), The Cultural Landscape: Past, Present and Future, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 111-21.Google Scholar
  16. Fitchen, J. M. (1991). Endangered Spaces, Enduring Places: Change, Identity, and Survival in Rural America, Westview Press, Boulder, CO.Google Scholar
  17. Fortmann, L. (1998). Introduction: Bonanza! The unasked questions: Domestic land tenure through international lenses. In Jacobs, H. M. (ed.), Who Owns America? Social Conflict Over Property Rights, University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, WI, pp. 3-15.Google Scholar
  18. Foster, D. R., Fluet, M., and Boose, E. R. (1999). Human or natural disturbance: Landscape-scale dynamics of the tropical forests of puerto rico. Ecological Applications 9(2): 555-572.Google Scholar
  19. Freyfogle, E. T. (1995). The Owning and taking of sensitive lands. UCLA Law Review 43(1): 77-138.Google Scholar
  20. Freyfogle, E. T. (1996). The construction of ownership. University of Illinois Law Review (1): 173-187.Google Scholar
  21. Gaventa, J. (1998). The Political Economy of Land Tenure: Appalachia and the Southeast. In Jacobs, H. M. (ed.), Who Owns America? Social Conflict Over Property Rights, University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, WI, pp. 227-244.Google Scholar
  22. Heasley, L. (2000). A Thousand Pieces of Paradise: Property, Nature and Community in the Kickapoo Valley, PhD Dissertation, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI.Google Scholar
  23. Heasley, L., and Delehanty, J. (1996). The politics of manure: Resource tenure and the agropastoral economy in Southwestern Niger. Society and Natural Resources 9(1): 31-46.Google Scholar
  24. Heasley, L., and Guries, R. P. (1998). Forest Tenure and Cultural Landscapes: Environmental Histories in the Kickapoo Valley. In Jacobs, H. M. (ed.), Who Owns America? Social Conflict Over Property Rights University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, WI, pp. 182-207.Google Scholar
  25. Hix, D. M., and Lorimer, C. G. (1991). Early stand development on former oak sites in southwestern Wisconsin. Forest Ecology and Management 42: 169-193.Google Scholar
  26. Ice, J. R., and Moore, B. (1931). Assessor's Map: Clinton Township, Vernon County, Viroqua, WI.Google Scholar
  27. Jackson, J. B. (1984). Discovering the Vernacular Landscape, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT.Google Scholar
  28. Johnson, H. Binder. (1976). Order Upon the Land: The U.S. Rectangular Land Survey and the Upper Mississippi Country, Oxford University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  29. Johnson, L. C. (1991). Soil Conservation in Wisconsin: Birth to Rebirth, Department of Soil Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI.Google Scholar
  30. Kline, D. (1990). Great Possessions: An Amish Farmer's Journal. North Point Press, New York.Google Scholar
  31. Kline, D. (2000). God's Spirit and a Theology for Living. In Redekop, C. (ed.), Creation and the Environment: An Anabaptist Perspective on a Sustainable World Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, pp. 61-69.Google Scholar
  32. Knowles, A. K. (2000). Historical GIS: The spatial turn in social science history. Social Science History 24.Google Scholar
  33. Knowles, A. K. (2002). Past Time, Past Place: GIS for History, ESRI Press, Redlands, CA.Google Scholar
  34. Kotar, J., and Burger T. L. (1996). A Guide to Forest Communities and Habitat Types of Central and Southern Wisconsin, Department of Forestry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI.Google Scholar
  35. Langston, N. (1998). People and nature: Understanding the changing interactions between people and ecological systems. In Ecology, New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 25-76.Google Scholar
  36. Laycock, W. A. (1991). The Conservation Reserve Program—How did we get where we are and wheredowegofromhere? In TheConservationReserve—Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. Symposium Proceedings, U. S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, General Technical Report RM-203, pp. 1-6.Google Scholar
  37. Levin, S. A. (1992). The problem of pattern and scale in ecology. Ecology 73: 1948-1967.Google Scholar
  38. Lorimer, C. G. (1989). The oak regeneration problem: New evidence on causes and possible solutions. In Forest Resource Analyses, Number 8, Department of Forestry, School of Natural Resources, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI.Google Scholar
  39. Maas, A. (1951). Muddy Waters: The Army Engineers and the Nation's Rivers. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  40. Matlack, G. R. (1997a). Four centuries of forest clearance and regeneration in the hinterland of a large city. Journal of Biogeography 24: 281-295.Google Scholar
  41. Matlack, G. R. (1997b). Land use and forest habitat distribution in the hinterland of a large city. Journal of Biogeography 24: 297-307.Google Scholar
  42. McEvoy, A. F. (1986). The Fisherman's Problem: Ecology and Law in the California Fisheries. Cambridge University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  43. Peluso, N. Lee. (1992). Rich Forests, Poor People: Resource Control and Resistance in Java. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.Google Scholar
  44. Place, E. (1993). Land use. In Kraybill, D. B. (ed.), The Amish and the State The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, pp. 101-210.Google Scholar
  45. Rockford Map Publishers. (1995). Land Atlas and Plat Book: Vernon County, Wisconsin. Rockford Map Publishers, Rockford, IL.Google Scholar
  46. Rose, C. M. (1994). Property and Persuasion: Essays on the History, Theory, and Rhetoric of Ownership, Westview Press, Boulder, CO.Google Scholar
  47. Schama, S. (1995). Landscape and Memory, Alfred A. Knopf, New York.Google Scholar
  48. Shallat, T. (1994). Structures in the Stream: Water, Science, and the Rise of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. University of Texas Press, Austin, TX.Google Scholar
  49. Singer, J. W. (2000). Property as social relations: From title to entitlement. In Geisler, C. and Daneker, G. (eds.), Property and Values: Alternatives to Public and Private Ownership Island Press, Washington, DC, pp. 3-19.Google Scholar
  50. Smith, S. L. (1996). Land dealers lose licences; complaints and fake ads bring on fines of $37,500, too. The Wisconsin State Journal, February 29, p. 1A.Google Scholar
  51. State of Wisconsin. (1937–1939). Land Economic Inventory (Liberty, Stark and Clinton). State of Wisconsin, Madison, WI.Google Scholar
  52. Steinberg, T. (1996). Slide Mountain: Or the Folly of Owning Nature. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.Google Scholar
  53. Steinberg, T. (2002). Down to Earth: Nature's Role in American History, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  54. Turner, M. G. (1989). Landscape ecology: The effect of pattern on process. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 20: 171-197.Google Scholar
  55. Turner, M. G., and Gardner, R. H. (eds.). (1991). Quantitative Methods in Landscape Ecology. Springer-Verlag, New York.Google Scholar
  56. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (1968). La Farge Reservoir Flood Control Project Kickapoo River, Wisconsin: Questions and Answers Concerning the Acquisition of Your Real Estate By The Government. U.S. Army Engineer District, Rock Island Corps of Engineers, Rock Island, IL.Google Scholar
  57. Willems-Braun, B. (1997). Buried epistemologies: The politics of nature in (post)colonial British Columbia. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 87(1): 3-31.Google Scholar
  58. Worster, D. (1977). Nature's Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas. Cambridge University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  59. Worster, D. (1988). Doing environmental history. In Worster, D. (ed.), The Ends of the Earth: Perspectives on Modern Environmental History Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 289-307.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lynne Heasley
    • 1
  1. 1.Environmental Studies Program and Department of HistoryWestern Michigan UniversityKalamazoo

Personalised recommendations