Tahoe: From Timber Barons to Ecologists

By DeChaine, Cynthia H. | Journal of American & Comparative Cultures, Winter 2000 | Go to article overview

Tahoe: From Timber Barons to Ecologists


DeChaine, Cynthia H., Journal of American & Comparative Cultures


Tahoe: From Timber Barons to Ecologists. Douglas H. Strong. Lincoln and Lexington: University of Nebraska Press, 1999.

In Tahoe: From Timber Barons to Ecologists, Douglas Strong has succeeded in outlining the historical development of the Tahoe basin from that of a pristine wilderness to that of a small but active community. This initial historical perspective lays a basic foundation for the reader to understand the current issues of increased algal blooms in the lake due to increased sediments and nutrients, polluted and unabated watershed runoff and finally, the struggle for the land to be purchased by public entities for preservation into the future. These issues have their roots in the historical development of the region.

Certainly, if one has an interest in the development, preservation and history of the West, this book is a good primer. Tahoe's unique position along the border of two states clearly exhibits the political messiness that so often occurs in these situations, which in this case is appropriately exaggerated due to artificial boundaries like statelines. Ecosystems do not adhere to human-made boundaries. A good example of this blurring of boundaries is how what happens upstream affects those downstream. Strong notes many such examples, but one particularly clear portrayal of this is when he states that "A widespread American waste disposal method, dumping material into a nearby stream to be carried out of sight and out of mind, simply does not work in a basin where the pollutants remain on one's doorstep" (58).

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