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,. 6~~~~~~ ,, .. . s s s-t~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~A \...~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~AAA Focus * Amends Making Ecological Restoration in the United States I t's a daunting task to build new interpre- But perhaps the greatest problem of Although the process of ecological or is that, once modern high priority on wildlife tations of lost degraded ecosystems. restoring ecosystems restoration puts a The great majority of restoration projects society has dramatically altered an ecosys- habitat requirements, human needs also must a river to be factored the of any restora- put a high priority on the biological require- tem-for instance, by damming into equation ments of endangered species, often drawing provide hydropower-it can be difficult to tion project, notes Dave Egan, co-editor of into intricate political controversies restore that ecosystem successfully, partly the journal Ecological Restoration and of a ecologists because so many people rely economically on soon-to-be-published book titled The and negotiations among environmentalists, industry, and agriculture. its altered state. Asking local residents to sac- Historical Handbook: A Restorationist's private landowners, Ecology an ecosys- Meanwhile, resource managers struggle to rifice their pocketbooks to restore Guide to Reference "There are peo- Ecosystems. historical is often a sell. And the who want to recreate what some might gain enough information about tem tough political ple them more who are asked to sacrifice, the call environments' and separate ecosystems to reconstruct successfully. people 'pristine he There are often difficult judgment calls when more complex restoration becomes. The sci- those areas from the rest of the world," that has is "But the human element must also be scientists try to redesign something ence of restoring ecosystems demanding, says. been over And but restoration on a large scale is also a considered when doing a restoration project: degraded many generations. any and cultural how much wealth or human effort is needed some critics argue that restorationists put social, economic, historical, before those of process. A grand-scale ecological restoration to restore and maintain a particular ecosys- wildlife interests humans, of vir- tem over time? Restorationists are not trying conflicts over how resources should has to address the economic demands sparking kind of interest that uses to take humans out of ecosystems, but rather be used. tually every group Government lead are the act of restoration as a for that ecosystem. agencies offering way their role in the most large-scale restorations, but those agen- people to recognize proper back the clock. Extensive Turning reworking must first have inhabit." cies widespread political sup- ecosystems they of the Everglades ecosystem, including cutting who on the Large-scale restoration projects usually from people rely ecosystems. to water flow in the port down sawgrass speed and voter has left wildlife such as these successful restoration require public funds widespread 1960s (left top) Consequently, large whooping cranes (left bottom) struggling- like most To be restoration projects are often half measures; support. successful, pro- to their new envi- with little success-to adapt must address the of the new laws or they are the results of jects history ecosys- regulations, restoration efforts include ronment. Today's back tem. "The of a restoration project compromises and negotiations. Turning goal the channelized Kissimmee River reverting be to return an to to a era can should ecosystem predis- an ecosystem's dock preindustrial in to its state (right top, 1965) original (right that reflect its historic be difficult or turbance conditions therefore very impossible. in bottom, 1961). A 357 VOLUME 1081 NUMBER 81 2000 Environmental Health Perspectives * August Focus * Making Amends ;~~~~l : State's Snake River are to help salmon Fish ladders such as that found at the Ice Harbor Dam on Washington (left) designed An upstream battle. the such efforts, many anadromous fish populations continue to decline. Today, (right) reach their ancestral spawning grounds. Despite however, down dams like the Ice Harbor to help restore populations of endangered fish government is considering tearing species. of variability," says Egan. "When Europeans arrived in North America. (This the great disruption. Once restorers know range they want to revive, restorationists bring history and science is in contrast to Western Europe, where which environment valuable information efforts to reinstate condi- then must try to recreate forests or wet- together, they produce generally attempt they long ago. But as about how an ecosystem operated in the tions that were prevalent some 50-100 years lands that were transformed will After Europeans brought in the climate changes and as people past and what it take to restore it, given ago.) 1500, physical the current conditions. They also develop a exotic plants (such as wheat), animals (such dramatically alter the landscape, plant and as the animal life change, too. As ecosystems powerful tool for building community par- as cattle), and microorganisms (such and To implement and virus that causes smallpox) that transformed change, species migrate or die out in certain ticipation support. the Other factors have also areas. So an that once thrived in a sustain a meaningful ecological restoration, landscape. ecosystem you must have community support; other- helped change the environment. Modern particular location might not be able to sur- wise, over the long run, it's all for naught." for instance, involves wide- vive intact today. agriculture, which It's often confusing to decide spread draining of wetlands and other alter- Florida Everglades of history to restore an ecosystem to. ations of natural processes, intensive forestry period That is, how far back should ecologists look entire forests, and In agencies have includes clear-cutting south Florida, government for back historical models? They can't go urban development includes pollution from proposed the largest and most expensive eco- too far. Researchers, for example, couldn't as well as habitat alteration from ever attempted-repairing industry logical restoration recreate the state of nature that existed suburban sprawl. the entire south Florida Everglades ecosystem about 15,000 years ago because it would be To find a model ecosystem, scientists and Florida Bay at a cost of $7.8 adjacent impossible, for example, to bring back the the of a particular study history and biology billion. The project, drawn up by the U.S. saber-toothed cats and mam- long-extinct place for clues about the period in which Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), calls for moths that lived in those days. human society most dramatically altered a a of south Florida's water 20-year overhaul In the United States, restorationists aim ecology. Restorers then try to landscape's management system, affecting a massive net- to rebuild habitats that existed before recreate the environment that existed before work of swamps, forests, and estuaries. A 358 VOLUME 108 1 NUMBER 8 1 August 2000 * Environmental Health Perspectives Focus * Amends Making Everglades, according to Benjamin F. 1992, Congress authorized the Central and the When scientists began studying restora- McPherson, a supervisory hydrologist with Southern Florida Comprehensive Review tion of the Everglades, they tried to under- the U.S. Geological Survey. Study (the "Restudy"), which was begun by stand the ecosystems encountered by the investigator for the in 1993. The Restudy was McPherson is an the USACE first European settlers in the late nineteenth Florida Ecosystem Program, an inter- to review the water management South century. Until Europeans arrived, south designed a scientific Everglades. Then, in governmental effort to establish system within the Florida was a subtropical wilderness domi- resource decision making in the the state of Florida passed the basis for by one of the largest wetlands in the 1994, nated region. The program provides multidiscipli- Everglades Forever Act, which primarily continental United States-the Everglades. and geologic issues, and estab- nary hydrologic, cartographic, was part of the Kissimmee- deals with water quality The Everglades the entire watershed. One of the process to restore the pub- data for watershed that lished a planning Okeechobee-Everglades program's tasks is to learn about the hydro- half of the Florida licly owned lands of the Everglades. The covered the southern of south Florida in the and the South Florida Water logic conditions The Kissimmee River system USACE peninsula. 1880s-just before modern Americans Management District became partners in flowed south into Lake Okeechobee, the the vast swamps. "We're For the past six years, federal and began to drain freshwater lake wholly in the the effort. second largest to understand what the water state agencies have been pursuing smaller attempting States, providing fresh water for the United in process of restoring the levels and flows were like in predevelopment which was once a shallow sheet steps the Everglades, conditions could be restored in Everglades through memorandums of agree- days so those water 100 kilometers wide moving slowly of conservation areas and public lands in ment with the local water management dis- the but steadily to Florida Bay. says Jacquelyn the region," says McPherson. in early 1880s, settlers began trict and local municipalities, Starting the of public affairs for the of the Everglades for Griffin, chief draining portions River Restoration Jacksonville [Florida] District. On farms. Since then, more than half of the wet- USACE the other side of the North American converted to farms 1 July 1999, the USACE sent a comprehen- On lands system has been to restore four rivers in restoration plan to Congress continent, attempts But in the 1920s, sive Everglades and urban development. Northwest have turned into a outlining the $7.8 billion project. The feder- the Pacific two massive hurricanes caused extensive the state of Florida nightmare for the region's resource man- some 2,100-2,800 people. al government and flooding, killing are enmeshed in a split the cost. Congress has not agers. Federal agencies To prevent further loss of life, President would over whether to take down four approved a bond issue for authorized funding for the plan yet. But on dispute Herbert Hoover dams on the Snake River, 2000, Florida governor Jeb Bush huge hydroelectric the USACE to build levees around the 16 May tributary of the Columbia River, southern portions of Lake signed a landmark bill committing $2 bil- the largest northern and enough to to restore salmon and steelhead migration In the late 1940s, after two lion to the planned restoration, Okeechobee. State into Idaho. Bush also signed into law through Washington more catastrophic hurricanes, Congress launch the project. of these dams are used for flood con- to drain half a million a new million program aimed at start- (None ordered the USACE $38.5 It would cost $1 billion to remove the of Lake Okeechobee with a vast ing a cleanup of Lake Okeechobee. The pro- trol.) acres south Monumental, Little and build large reservoirs Ice Harbor, Lower of levees, canals, and pumping sta- gram will buy land network Lower Granite Dams, which marshes for cleaning agricultural runoff Goose, and tions. These structures channeled floodwa- and date from the 1960s and 1970s. the developing eastern from farms. ters away from rapidly to cause the extinction restore the Everglades, USACE engi- The dams helped shore of Florida. They also supplied drinking To of the coho salmon and to bring 25 other and the drained wet- neers, in partnership with the South Florida water to growing cities, District, would have to of salmon and steelhead to the edge rich agricultural land for the Water Management species lands provided populations by 90%, dozens of giant reservoirs to store of extinction, reducing state's sugarcane industry and for cattle and build flushed into the ocean. to American Rivers, an advocacy winter water that today gets according vegetables. in Washington, DC. The two would have to revamp and organization based The massive flood control system has The agencies River was at the top of American flow of fresh water south relocate the canals and dikes to route water Snake also blocked the the Everglades. The Rivers' listing of the most endangered rivers choking off the top part of flow southward through from the lake, for the year 2000. would also need to build artificial in the United States watershed from the bottom part, so the agencies the goes back a long way. marshes to filter pollution from cities and The problem Everglades has become much dryer. This have to be purchased for in the nineteenth century, the billion of fresh farms. Land would Beginning system diverts 1.7 gallons early lumber mills creat- zones between the Everglades and Pacific Northwest's water daily into coastal estuaries to the east buffer the USACE's plan amounts of sawdust that covered which have had their salt balance farms and cities. Overall, ed huge and west, and clogged the gills of the watershed's system, river bottoms disrupting estuarine systems. would replumb disturbed, salmon. Clear-cutting of forests poured more urbanization have reconnecting it from the Kissimmee basin As agriculture and cattle caused ero- Lake Okeechobee through Florida silt into rivers, and grazing the Everglades, this ecosystem above intruded upon which led to increased soil runoff. at the southern end of the Everglades. sion, has shrunk by more than half over the past Bay Great Depression, of the restoration, the pro- In the midst of the of wading birds have In each stage 120 years. Populations President Franklin Roosevelt saw an oppor- must also address a complex set of water more than 90% since the turn of ject dropped by industrialize the Pacific Northwest from booming cities, tunity to wildlife species in the demands agriculture, the century. Sixty-eight dams in the Even if water that is hydroelectric and wildlife agencies. by building have been designated endangered Everglades basin. began work on flushed into the ocean can be recap- Columbia Engineers U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. now by the in the in 1933. will be conflicts over the first federal dams region Florida's human there ongoing Meanwhile, south popula- tured, By there were 18 giant dams across how to use the water. Resource managers 1975, Six million people now tion keeps growing. and Snake Rivers. Dams have to find to manage flood con- the Columbia in and this figure is expected will have ways live the region, stimulants to economic water been successful the next trol for the region, provide drinking to double over 50 years. in the region, but they have urban areas and for farms, and development the became increasingly for irrigation As Everglades altered and fish water flow to replenish also dramatically ecosystems there were calls to rescue it. In reestablish enough degraded, A 359 Health * VOLUME 108 1 NUMBER 8 1 August 2000 Environmental Perspectives Focus * Amends Making species dependent on them. The recent Service that down the says taking dams is the Forest Burning public controversy has been focused on the the best to save the fish. way The U.S. Some researchers fire as an of promote agent impact of dams on Snake River salmon. Environmental Protection restoration Agency conclud- in forests and In the prairies. In rivers around the country, salmon ed in 2000 April that the dams' U.S. for manager, Southeast, foresters are example, and other anadromous fish the (those that hatch must USACE, address the river's water- fire to back stands, using bring longleaf pine in freshwater, migrate to the sea, then return which quality problems-specifically, dam-caused have suffered from and clear-cutting to freshwater to spawn) have to navigate warmer water temperatures that harm a lack of controlled When burning. longleaf over dams to reach their spawning chances grounds. of survival for trees are young salmon have balls of by young, they long, But this struggle often has proved too diffi- their succulent decreasing energy levels, needles. The trees' buds diminishing dense, are cult for the fish, even their when dams are food and supply, making them more buried within these needles. deep protective redesigned to help them migrate. to susceptible and disease-if Controlled predators the when done are of fires, correctly, For decades, federal agencies were dams are to low stay up. The National Marine while such fires can kill and, intensity required to put economic Fisheries interests first when the lead for off most Service, agency ensur- of southeastern hardwoods species they reviewed existing dam licenses or salmon's grant- ing protection under the and the thick bark and pines, longleaf pine's ed new ones. But in 1986, Congress Endangered Species Act, recently dense needles suggested of armor that provide layers instructed federal agencies that to also consider the dams should stay in place for allow the to 5-10 survive and thrive. longleaf wildlife, recreation, and environmental qual- while other salmon Other years recovery of thrive under options fire, too, species pine ity. Since then, hundreds of small dams have could be explored. The federal are agencies 3-4 generally needing burning every years, been demolished. In an 1999, aging hydro- what currently studying could be done to once trees are the past juvenile stage, says electric dam on Maine's Kennebec salmon in River was help terms of the so-called Dale a "four fire researcher with the Wade, U.S. demolished under a federal order, the first Hs" of endangered Forest Service. fisheries-hydropower, major dam to be taken down to protect habitat, hatcheries, and Another harvesting. reason for controlled important migrating fish. As dams age and licenses The USACE has tried numerous tech- is to reduce the of wild- burning possibility expire, numerous other major dams could be niques to help fish the fires that get past Snake River forests and valuable timber destroy similarly breached as part of a effort dams. But the major to fish populations are with homes still and communities in their along restore America's rivers and their fisheries. falling, though USACE research In the absence of controlled suggests path. fires, Removing a dam can restore that the natural fish the dams not be shrubs may the main cause of and cover thick, ground grow very habitat, allows the river to resume the the natur- fisheries' decline. fuel for Ninety-eight blazes. percent providing catastrophic al variations of its flow, eliminates unnatural of fish juvenile are either shuttled In South Carolina's around Francis Marion temperatures downstream, and removes the dams-loaded pro- onto barges and sent National resource are Forest, managers pellor-bladed turbines that kill juvenile fish downstream-or swim they over the the woods under a spill- of burning stipulation that to attempt pass through their shafts. on their ways way to the the ocean, says Adele which Act, Endangered Species requires Some dam operators recognize that they Merchant, fish that program planner with the the U.S. Forest Service restore and sus- can't bring their dams to current envi- USACE up Northwestern Division tain older in trees in the forest to longleaf pine ronmental standards, especially those of the Portland, Oregon. "There must be other the red-cockaded wood- protect endangered Endangered Species so the factors Act, operators causing the fish not to This return," she bird nests in pecker. tiny exclusively are these removing structures. The "There are still a Condit, says. lot of private activities the holes of older which are trees, pine a Washington State dam that in the blocks fish watershed. There is industry up and out of rare, existence a increasingly edged by passage on the White Salmon a tribu- down the River, river. Cattle can lack of fire and grazing cause ero- trees such as faster-growing tary of the will Columbia, be removed start- sion that silts in gravel stream beds and the and loblolly pine sweetgum. ing in 2006 by its operator, PacifiCorp, at a affects the good spawning habitat." Resource that the wood- managers say cost of $17 million. And to restore chinook In July, the Clinton administration and indi- other rare and animals pecker plants salmon and steelhead populations, five cated that it will delay its decision on could die out unless and public private Pacific Gas and Electric Corporation dams removing the Snake River dams for at landowners least reconstruct their fire-dependent will be taken down on Battle Creek, a tribu- five Within years. coming weeks, the habitat. a Still, reconstituted longleaf pine of the tary Sacramento River in northern administration is scheduled to forest release full cannot the diversi- replicate biological California, at a cost of $50.7 million. details of its draft plan to recover the of an endan- that evolved over cen- ty ecosystem Nevertheless, arguments over the Snake gered fisheries in the Snake turies. River, "We'll never the including get original longleaf River dams have turned explosive. Critics to steps recover the salmon without forest remov- back," Bill fire says Twomey, program have pointed out that removing these struc- ing the dams such as habitat improvements, for the Francis Marion. "We've manager tures would take away a significant source of harvest restrictions, and modifications lost too to many species." to the entire energy of the hydroelectric dams. In a 22 region-4% July 2000 letter Before fire was the Europeans arrived, Pacific Northwest's electricity, the equiva- to President Clinton, the native Indians' Washington, most tool for important lent of that used by the Seattle metropolitan DC-based National Hydropower Asso- the manipulating Indians inten- landscape. area-and raise rates. utility Industry relies ciation commended the administration for burned forests for tionally hundreds-per- on the placid waters of the dammed river delaying its decision on removing the dams thousands-of haps years. Through regular for shipping. And the Snake River dams and for encouraging modifications to dams Indians dense forests with burning, replaced provide water to irrigate 36,000 acres of as part of a salmon recovery plan. "As thinner you woodlands, and they dramatically farmland in Idaho and Washington know, State; hydro projects are not the only altered prob- the of forest composition ecosys- them taking down could potentially put lem salmon face," wrote Linda Church tems, fire-tolerant such encouraging plants, some farmers out of business. Ciocci, executive director of the as association. and longleaf pine, others. discouraging The nine federal agencies involved in "We believe that the decline of the The salmon settlers in the Southeast early European the dam issue have various is a opinions about problem that reaches far beyond the maintained these and extended clearings what to do next. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife hydro industry." them to fire, through according Stephen J. A 360 VOLUME 108 1 NUMBER 8 1 August 2000 * Environmental Health Perspectives Focus * Making Amends Burning the torest for the trees. Although controlled forest burning can be inconvenient for people such as these drivers (left), stalled on a road near Francis Marion National Forest by a dense cloud of smoke, the red-cockaded woodpecker (right) depends upon such burning to maintain the pine forest it calls home. Pyne, a fire historian at Arizona State and hurt someone. Conflict between resi- National Forest, the longleaf pine ecosystem in dents and foresters in University Tempe. "[Along the South over burning "is becom- is being restored parts of the forest farthest Carolina coastal plain,] there was a tradition ing a more common problem," says away from urban centers. But in stretches of of fire to the woods for "Restorers are at setting every spring Gjerstad. odds with local the forest near roads and suburbs, resource free-ranging cattle that would feed on the people.... are houses out in managers have cut back on the People building burning lush growth of the In green grass," says Twomey. forests, and a lot of people don't like woods. south Florida, human demands Then in the 1870s, steam-powered loco- smoke from controlled fires." But without for water could make restoration of of part in motives arrived the forests of the Deep controlled fires, he adds, "the undergrowth the Everglades politically but con- difficult, South, bringing industrial-era fuel builds and when a trol of lands some logging. By up, drought occurs, public provides flexibility the most of mil- can 1930s, the original 60-90 you have catastrophic fires." to rebuild the ecosystem. In the Pacific lion acres of forests Controlled in some sections of the River original longleaf pine burning Northwest, however, Snake has were gone. (Today, there are less than three the Francis Marion is also becoming increas- been used so intensively, in such a of variety million acres of longleaf pine forests in the ingly difficult as the Charleston metropoli- and for so that ways, many decades, restoring In the Southeast.) early twentieth century, tan area sprawls closer to the national forest, the salmon habitat seems an extraordinarily federal established a nationwide more traffic new task. agencies bringing and residents. complex suppression of forest fires. That was a terri- Although the Francis Marion has an exten- Each of these restoration projects must ble foresters now. "Fire is an sive to warn have of local mistake, say program local people when a political support residents, envi- of the integral part Southern pine system," controlled fire is scheduled and to provide ronmental groups, and economic interests. A Wade. "For all fires were con- on wide of stakeholders must come says decades, checkpoints highways, shutting down range sidered bad and we put them out," says roads if smoke makes driving dangerous, together in on a agreement why large-scale Dean a smoke from controlled fires led to restoration is needed. Gjerstad, forestry professor at blinding Ambitious ecological Auburn University in Alabama. "Now we six automobile accidents on restorations some sacrifices highways usually require by know he "We know that and to the forest from near those In differently," says. through adjacent people living landscapes. gener- we need more fire in the system." 1993 to 1996. A number of long-term resi- restoration can succeed al, large projects only By the foresters to burn dents who have and other with a combination of 1950s, began emphysema respi- extensive scientific Southern pinelands again after that ratory diseases are affected by prescribed study and careful realizing negotiations among people these woods need fire. But in recent fires in the who would be most frequent Francis Marion, says Twomey. affected. years people at the suburban As a result, some sections of longleaf pine living growing about smoke. Even con- forest edges complained have not been burned since 1996. John Tibbetts trolled fires can harm residents who It seems dear that large-scale restoration nearby suffer from can work best in emphysema and other respiratory projects places where mod- diseases. And owners worried about ern makes few demands on property society relatively sued if their fires out of control the In getting got resource. the case of Francis Marion Environmental Health Perspectives * VOLUME 108 1 NUMBER 8 1 2000 A 361l August
Environmental Health Perspectives – Pubmed Central
Published: Aug 1, 2000
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