United States West Coast

An Environmental History

by Adam M. Sowards
Mark R. Stoll, Series Editor


From the first fur trapping and fishing enterprises in Oregon, to the California Gold Rush, to ongoing efforts to provide Southern California with sufficient water, the North American West Coast has long been a region where humankind has sought to enhance the quality of life by nurturing, battling, and at times exploiting the environment.

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Cover image for United States West Coast

August 2007


Pages 393
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Geography and World Cultures/Physical Geography and Environment
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The most up-to-date and insightful overview available on the environmental history of the West Coast of the United States, a region of extraordinary physical beauty distinguished by its inhabitants' efforts to both sustain and exploit their natural resources.

Part of ABC-CLIO's Nature and Human Societies series, United States West Coast: An Environmental History explores the interplay of ecology, economy, and culture throughout the history of the region of North America where the waters drain to the Pacific Ocean.

Synthesizing the most recent and insightful studies on the region, United States West Coast portrays environmental change in the far western United States from the emergence of humans in the Pacific Northwest (about 12,000 years ago), to the rise of European colonial trade networks, to the era of industrialization and urbanization, to present day activism and public policy responses to environmental damage. By investigating how humans interact with their nonhuman surroundings across a specific expanse that encompasses all kinds of landscapes, cultures, and commercial enterprises, this insightful volume shows just how interdependent the relationship between people and their environment is.


  • Over 20 primary sources, revealing cultural understandings of nature and ecological consequences of human action, as well as highlighting controversies concerning environmental change along the U.S. Pacific Coast
  • An up-to-date bibliography of research and publications on the environmental history of the region


  • An authoritative overview of the environmental history of the Pacific Coast of the United States
  • Offers a synthesis of recent studies and a collection of primary sources unavailable in any other volumes on this subject
  • Case studies (including a look at the fur trading industry and water distribution in the L.A. basin) explain the complicated ways humans and their political, cultural, and economic systems shape and are shaped by ecological systems
Author Info

Adam M. Sowards, PhD, is assistant professor of history and the Director of the Institute for Pacific Northwest Studies at the University of Idaho, Moscow, ID. He earned his PhD from Arizona State University and has published multiple articles on environmental history in the Western Historical Quarterly, Journal of the West, and other scholarly journals.



"Highly recommended. All levels."Choice

"This volume is highly recommended for academic libraries and large public libraries."ARBA

"This groundbreaking volume explores the interplay of ecology, economy, and culture throughout the history of the rich and abundant region."APADE


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