Protected Land pp 129-142 | Cite as

Freshwater Ecosystems

  • Douglas J. Spieles
Part of the Springer Series on Environmental Management book series (SSEM)


If the history of widespread destruction and subsequent urgency of preservation in America’s grasslands is rivaled by any other ecological environment, it is our freshwater ecosystems. For three-fourths of its history, the United States has been devoted in policy and practice to wholesale abuse of rivers, lakes, and wetlands. Structural modifications to aquatic systems during this phase of American history were commonly called “improvements,” putting a positive spin on drainage, impoundment, channel straightening, floodwalls, dams, and dredging. In recent decades the policy has come about face, so that certain measures of protection have been extended to freshwater systems. Compliant practice has generally involved an un-doing of the previous improvements. Thus we are un-damming, re-meandering, re-flooding, re-vegetating, and un-diverting across the nation. These new improvements have not yet come close to the scale or pace of the original modifications, but after a solid 50 years of freshwater ecosystem restoration we have enough examples to know what can and what can’t be easily restored.


Zebra Mussel Regime Shift Prairie Pothole Region Purple Loosestrife Mitigation Wetland 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Denison UniversityGranvilleUSA

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