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Protecting Nature - UK Essays | UKEssays
The water was plenty high as it was, and continuously raged through the structure. Nowhere in the Mississippi Valley were velocities greater than in this one place, where the waters made their hydraulic jump, plunging over what Kazmann describes as “concrete falls” into the regime of the Atchafalaya. The structure and its stilling basin had been configured to dissipate energy—but not nearly so much energy. The excess force was attacking the environment of the structure. A large eddy had formed. Unbeknownst to anyone, its swirling power was excavating sediments by the inflow apron of the structure. Even larger holes had formed under the apron itself. Unfortunately, the main force of the Mississippi was crashing against the south side of the inflow channel, producing unplanned turbulence. The control structure had been set up near the outside of a bend of the river, and closer to the Mississippi than many engineers thought wise.
Under nature’s scenario, with many distributaries spreading the floodwaters left and right across the big deltaic plain, visually the whole region would be covered—with fresh sediments as well as water. In an average year, some two hundred million tons of sediment are in transport in the river. This is where the foreland Rockies go, the western Appalachians. Southern Louisiana is a very large lump of mountain butter, eight miles thick where it rests upon the continental shelf, half that under New Orleans, a mile and a third at Old River. It is the nature of unconsolidated sediments to compact, condense, and crustally sink. So the whole deltaic plain, a superhimalaya upside down, is to varying extents subsiding, as it has been for thousands of years. Until about 1900, the river and its distributaries were able to compensate for the subsidence with the amounts of fresh sediment they spread in flood. Across the centuries, distribution was uneven, as channels shifted and land would sink in one place and fill in somewhere else, but over all the land building process was net positive. It was abetted by decaying vegetation, which went into the flooded silts and made soil. Vegetation cannot decay unless it grows first, and it grew in large part on nutrients supplied by floodwaters.
Essay on environmental protection and nature conservation …
The General takes in the scene without comment. In silence, we look at the water-standing trees and into narrow passages that disappear among them. They draw me into thoughts of my own. I first went in there in 1980—that is, into the Atchafalaya swamp, away from its floodway levees, and miles from the river. There were four of us, in canoes. The guide was Charles Fryling, a professor of landscape architecture at Louisiana State University, who, among the environmentalists of the eighteenth state, plays Romulus to Oliver Houck’s Remus. Fryling is a tall man with a broad forehead, whose hair falls straight to his eyes without the slight suggestion that comb or brush has ever been invited to intrude upon nature. In 1973, when he moved into his house, on the periphery of Baton Rouge, it sat on a smooth green lawn, in a neighborhood of ranch contemporaries, each on a smooth green lawn. Fryling’s yard is now a rough green forest, its sweet gums, grapevine, pepper vine, rattan vine, hackberry, passionflowers, and climbing ferns a showcase of natural succession. In Fryling’s words, “It beats the hell out of mowing the lawn.” The trees are thirty feet high.
The water czar, I feel a duty to insert, is not the very model of a major general. If he were to chew nails, he would break his teeth. I am not attempting to suggest that he lacks the presence of a general, or the mien, or the bearing. Yet he is, withal, somewhat less martial than most English teachers. Effusive and friendly in a folk-and-country way, courteous, accommodating, he is of the sort whose upward mobility would be swift in a service industry. Make no mistake, he is a general. “Shall we just go to the Four Seasons? A nice little place to have lunch,” he said one day in Vicksburg, and we drove to a large building in the center of town, where his car was left directly in front of the main entrance, beside a bright-yellow curb under various belligerent signs forbidding parking. It stayed there for an hour while he had his crab gumbo.
Essays on Protecting Nature From Polution - Essay Depot
The towboat Mississippi is more than halfway down the Atchafalaya now—beyond the leveed farmland of the upper basin and into the storied swamp. The willows on the two sides of the river, however, continue to be so dense that they block from sight what lies behind them, and all we can see is the unobstructed waterway running on and on, half a mile wide, in filtered sunlight and the shadows of clouds. A breeze has put waves on the water. Coming over the starboard quarter, it more than quells the humidity and the heat. Nevertheless, as one might expect, most of the people remain indoors, in the chilled atmosphere of the pilothouse, the coat-and-tie comfort of the lounge. A deck of cards appears, and a game of bouré develops, in showboat motif, among various civilian millionaires—Ed Kyle, of the Morgan City Harbor & Terminal District, dealing off the top to the Pontchartrain Levee Board, the Lafourche Basin Levee Board, the Teche-Vermilion Fresh Water District. Oliver Houck—the law professor, former general counsel of the National Wildlife Federation, whose lone presence signals the continuing existence of the environmental movement—naturally stays outdoors. He has established an eyrie on an upper deck, to windward. Tall and loosely structured, Houck could be a middle-aged high jumper, still in shape to clear six feet. His face in repose is melancholy—made so, perhaps, by the world as his mind would have it in comparison with the world as he sees it. What he is seeing at the moment—in the center of the greatest river swamp in North America, which he and his battalions worked fifteen years to “save”—is a walled-off monotony of sky and water.
“The coast is sinking out of sight,” Oliver Houck has said. “We’ve reversed Mother Nature.” Hurricanes greatly advance the coastal erosion process, tearing up landscape made weak by the confinement of the river. The threat of destruction from the south is even greater than the threat from the north.
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Importance Of Environmental Protection Essay
In city and country, riverfront owners became sensitive about the fact that the levees they were obliged to build were protecting not only their properties but also the properties behind them. Levee districts were established—administered by levee boards—to spread the cost. The more the levees confined the river, the more destructive it became when they failed. A place where water broke through was known as a crevasse—a source of terror no less effective than a bursting dam—and the big ones were memorialized, like other great disasters, in a series of proper names: the Macarty Crevasse (1816), the Sauvé Crevasse (1849). Levee inspectors were given power to call out male slaves—aged fifteen to sixty—whose owners lived within seven miles of trouble. With the approach of mid-century, the levees were averaging six feet—twice their original height—and calculations indicated that the flow line would rise. Most levee districts were not populous enough to cover the multiplying costs, so the United States Congress, in 1850, wrote the swamp and Overflow Land Act. It is possible that no friend of Peter had ever been so generous in handing over his money to Paul. The federal government deeded millions of acres of swampland to states along the river, and the states sold the acreage to pay for the levees. The Swamp Act gave eight and a half million acres of river swamps and marshes to Louisiana alone. Other states, in aggregate, got twenty million more. Since time immemorial, these river swamps had been the natural reservoirs where floodwaters were taken in and held, and gradually released as the flood went down. Where there was timber (including virgin cypress), the swampland was sold for seventy-five cents an acre, twelve and a half cents where there were no trees. The new owners were for the most part absentee. An absentee was a Yankee. The new owners drained much of the swampland, turned it into farmland, and demanded the protection of new and larger levees. At this point, Congress might have asked itself which was the act and which was the swamp.
Nature Protection Essay Examples - New York essay
River stages, in their wide variations, became generally higher through time, as the water was presented with fewer outlets. People began to wonder if the levees could ever be high enough and strong enough to make the river safe. Possibly a system of dams and reservoirs in the tributaries of the upper valley could hold water back and release it in the drier months, and possibly a system of spillways and floodways could be fashioned in the lower valley to distribute water when big floods arrived. Beginning in the eighteen-fifties, these notions were the subject of virulent debate among civilian and military engineers. Four major floods in ten years and thirty-two disastrous crevasses in a single spring were not enough to suggest to the Corps that levees alone might never be equal to the job. The Corps, as things stood, was not yet in charge. District by district, state by state, the levee system was still a patchwork effort. There was no high command in the fight against the water. In one of the Corps’ official histories, the situation is expressed in this rather preoccupied sentence: “By 1860, it had become increasingly obvious that a successful war over such an immense battleground could be waged only by a consolidated army under one authority.” While the Civil War came and went, the posture of the river did not change. Vicksburg fell but did not move. In the floods of 1862, 1866, and 1867, levees failed. Catastrophes notwithstanding, Bayou Plaquemine—a major distributary of the Mississippi and a natural escape for large percentages of spring high water—was closed in 1868, its junction with the Mississippi sealed by an earthen dam. Even at normal stages, the Mississippi was beginning to stand up like a large vein on the back of a hand. The river of the eighteen-seventies ran higher than it ever had before.
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