Darwin Commerce and the Public Trust
Recurrent rivalry in the coastal zone

1789 - the Constitution, commerce clause. Promotion of improvements

1865 - 14th amendment.


LANDSCAPE is not land

Geographical regeneration


George P. Marsh | John Wesley Powell | Ecology | Charles Ellet | Public Health | landscape renewal


Conn River

The Connecticut River

Two nations




land realism 

The role of George Perkins Marsh is crucial in redefining human civilization as an agent of geological change.

Need of restoration of disturbed harmonies with geographical regeneration

Personal changes in fashions and tastes with scientific discoveries altered prevailing attitudes "to the American landscape"

Marshes of the Ocean Shore, p. 63.

"Protect" … natural resources "from depletion"

"John Wesley Powell's 1878 publication of a land-use plan for the desert west."

"The earliest comprehensive land-use policy for the west."


"adaptation of land and water laws, technology, and institutions to the dry, drought-prone West."


"a realistic appraisal"

Land Realism

p. 64.

The contrast in preservation and the utilitarian approaches and reclamation is clearly utilitarian or the useful engagement of technology to improve the land for farming

"Lands reserved for the purposes of public recreation or contemplation were part of a traditional preservationist movement.…"

Defining Oikos and "ecology"

"the relations of organisms to the surrounding outer world,"

to the organic and inorganic condition of existence."

narrower economic approached thrived in

focused practices:

  1. revive agriculture
  2. restore and restock fish
  3. geological survey of western resources
  4. biological survey of animals and their ranges in the west
  5. irrigation survey

p. 65.

Addison Verrill's three conditions based on salinity: marine, brackish, & fresh water.

"Tidelands were held in trust by the states in order to further the public rights of fishing, hunting, and navigation."

p. 67.

Now the extent of the tidal marshes was a discovery of necessity to scour silt from navigation channels a massive quantity of water -- held at high tide in the upland marshes would be needed to flush the system downstream to remove the silt.

pp. 67-68.

New Jersey case

P. 68.

Swamplands and reclamation

That is the deliberate removal of and prohibiting a return of water flow upon land beside rivers, sloughs, swamps, or bogs was also called drainage.

Millions of acres were granted to private holders taking the submerged lands from commonly owned wetlands.

Reclamation of this kind in the uplands when accompanied by settlement, timbering and plowed fields "aggravated the siltation of harbors" downstream.

p. 69.

Civil Engineer Charles Ellet

criticized flood protection in the lower Mississippi river valley and delta lands.

loss of uniform discharge made the river unnavigable at times, siltation, flooding, debris and levee or dike building all made the flow of the river at peak period vulnerable to flooding the very lands being given away for the purpose of building levees and drainage for agricultural reclamation.

p. 70-71.

His call for multi state control of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers to reverse the damages was not heeded (1853)

p. 72.

Flooding worsened due to levees

Not isolated incidents, beyond the mastery of states, but a national problem.

Waves of Cholera epidemics initiate metropolitan boards of public health and a call for sanitary engineering.

p. 74.

Public Health movement and urban life

George Waring – sanitary reform

Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. – parks, public health, drainage and recreational

"instrument of civic rejuvenation"

drainage and sanitation "by public authority"

pp. 74-76.

sanitary reformers

p. 77.

George Perkin's Marsh, Man and Nature; 1864, and his vision to assure human intervention for "the material improvement of exhausted regions"

pp. 78-81.

"This ideology gave rise to government policies that rejected the preponderant laissez-faire attitudes toward nineteenth century resource use."

p. 81.

Altered attitudes

"land legislation, river policies and wildlife conservation"

• parks, fisheries, sanitation and public health all take on a support structure for

"landscape renewal"

Represent a "substantial shift in national sentiments, legal interpretation, and engineering designs in favor of natural systems."

Marshes of the Ocean Shore, p. 82.


Conservation of the economic resources of the seas as these are a wetland dependent product requires the preservation of tidal marshes, mud flats, sea grass beds, and river mouths to assure an enduring sustained yield supply of commercial and sport fisheries.


conflicting motives | defining public character of land | seashore | coastal conflicts summary | ecological values | coastal ecology | terms | ideas | summary

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