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CHAPTER THREE Exploration: From Exploitation to Recreation

James M. Aton Utah State University Press ePub

BLM river ranger Jim Wright rows toward shore to inspect a campsite.

When river runners today leave Sand Wash they may feel like they are entering Powell’s “Great Unknown.”

The river, narrowly confined, drove them onward with
horrible speed and a frightful roar.

—Voltaire, Candide (1759)

When today’s river runners row away from Sand Wash, they probably feel as if they are entering Powell’s “great unknown.” In personal terms, perhaps many are. Current boaters, however, have all the technologically advanced (some say decadent) equipment that Northwest River Supply’s and Cascade Outfitters’ catalogs can offer. They carry French presses to brew Peet’s coffee and battery-operated blenders to mix margaritas. They sleep on thick, inflated pads inside of tents designed to protect them from the hardest rainstorms and fiercest mosquitoes (though not bears). They use waterproof river maps that show rapids, explain and visualize relevant history, and indicate fine terrain details. Roughing it in comfort, they hardly qualify as Lewis and Clarks or John C. Fremonts.

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8 Order Rodentia Rodents

David M. Armstrong University Press of Colorado ePub

Rodents are the most numerous of mammals—both as species and as individuals—in Colorado and worldwide. More than 40 percent of Coloradan mammalian species are rodents, and there doubtless are more individual rodents in Colorado than there are individuals of all other mammals combined, humans included. Because of their great abundance and diversity, rodents are a significant component of the structure and function of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and they have been the subject of much research. Rosenzweig (1989) reviewed the contributions of studies of rodents to developing theory in community ecology. J. Brown (1987) and J. Brown and Kurzius (1989) highlighted the spatial variability of community structure in the guild of granivorous desert rodents in the Southwest (including a site in west-central Colorado).

Rodents are important to people. On one hand, some rodents are beneficial as sources of food or fur, and many species—beaver and a number of kinds of squirrels, for example—are eminently “watchable wildlife,” enriching our lives by providing non-consumptive recreational opportunities. Further, some rodents are especially important to science as laboratory animals and as indicators of environmental quality. On the other hand, some rodents are regarded as pests because of their burrowing habits, their sometimes annoying or even destructive occupation of human habitations, and their competition for crops, rangeland, and stored food. And, of course, attitudes toward some rodents, such as prairie dogs and beaver, are both positive and negative, depending on whom you ask, and when.

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Forrie, Allan Thistledown Press ePub
“Otherwise Than Place” by Don McKay examines the relationship between humans and nature using examples from his memory to illustrate that though people seek to contain wildness or leave their mark through destruction, nature inevitably continues its slow cycle.
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Medium 9781574416077

Introduction: The Gar Returns

Mark Spitzer University of North Texas Press ePub

The number one question I get asked about gar is why I'm so interested in them. My primary answer is that they're the coolest fish I've ever seen. I mean, just look at these things: They're from a tubular, fossil-fish family that's been around for over a hundred million years, they have an arsenal of deadly fangs, they have armored scales, and they can breathe air with lung-like organs. My secondary response, however, has to do with the mythology of this fish, which has historically been labeled a monster. Having always been intrigued by our fascination with creatures we attribute “supernatural” qualities to, I couldn't help actively investigating this symbolically rich, dragon-headed fish.

Along the way, I studied the science, the history, and the folklore of gar. I fished for them, wrote and published “garticles,” and explored their eco-issues. My research got picked up by the fishing celebrity Jeremy Wade of River Monsters fame, I caught gator gar with him and appeared on his show, and I also consulted for the Zeb Hogan Monster Fish episode on alligator gar produced by National Geographic. Around the same time, I hooked up with the international gar community, comprised mostly of biologists and fishery specialists. Then, in 2010, my first gar book, Season of the Gar: Adventures in Pursuit of America's Most Misunderstood Fish, came out from the University of Arkansas Press.

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1 From Ecological Postmodernism to Material Ecocriticism: Creative Materiality and Narrative Agency

Serenella Iovino Indiana University Press ePub

Serpil Oppermann

THE CONCEPTION OF physical reality within the framework of ecological postmodern thought and the nature of the material world described by quantum theory have recently been given new life by the emergence of the new materialist paradigm. The radical revisions of our ideas about the description of physical entities, chemical and biological processes, and their ethical, political, and cultural implications represented in recent discourses of feminist science studies, posthumanism, and the environmental humanities have also occasioned considerable interest among ecocritics, leading to the emergence of material ecocriticism. Proposing that we can read the world as matter endowed with stories, material ecocriticism speaks of a new mode of description designated as “storied matter,” or “material expressions” constituting an agency with signs and meanings. The idea that all material life experience is implicated in creative expressions contriving a creative ontology is a reworking of ecological postmodernism’s emphasis on material processes intersecting with human systems, producing epistemic configurations of life, discourses, texts, and narratives. Because ecological postmodernism perceives matter equipped with internal experience, agentic creativity, and vitality, it is important to acknowledge it as one of the roots upon which material ecocriticism constructs its theoretical premises, as this chapter aims to show.

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