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Colonial impacts to wetlands in Lebanon, Connecticut

Robert M. Thorson, Andrew G. Harris, Sandra L. Harris, Robert Gradie and M. W. Lefor
Colonial impacts to wetlands in Lebanon, Connecticut (in A paradox of power; voices of warning and reason in the geosciences, Charles W. Welby (editor) and Monica E. Gowan (editor))
Reviews in Engineering Geology (1998) 12: 23-42


The expansion and contraction of the agricultural economy in Lebanon, Connecticut, a seventeenth century New England colonial village, was associated first with conversion of "wilderness" to a pastoral landscape, and later with nearly whole-scale reforestation. Freshwater wetlands throughout the area were strongly impacted by this discrete pulse of landscape disturbance, but the response of each wetland to local and upstream land use was site specific. The individualistic nature of wetland responses can be understood only by treating the drainage basin as a linked physical system that integrates geomorphic processes in a downstream direction. Our study is based on the historical geography of 61 wetlands within a very small watershed (Susquetonscut Brook; 14 km (super 2) ), on the stratigraphy of 18 widely distributed sites (as interpreted from conventional geomorphic, lithologic, radiocarbon, and pollen techniques), and on numerical modeling of historic flood discharges. Our results indicate that (1) presettlement wetlands were strongly impacted either directly or indirectly by English land-use practices; (2) the hydrogeologic setting of each wet-land was responsible for either mitigating or amplifying these impacts at downstream sites; (3) the pulse of disturbance from the colonial period (1695-1787) continues to govern the modern sediment budget, flood regime, and riparian habitat of wetlands and watercourses throughout the area; (4) wetland impacts from Native American populations were not significant enough to be detected by our study; and (5) although many swamps were drained by the colonists, these wetland losses were more than off-set by the amount of wetlands created.

ISSN: 0080-2018
EISSN: 2169-799X
Coden: GAEGA4
Serial Title: Reviews in Engineering Geology
Serial Volume: 12
Title: Colonial impacts to wetlands in Lebanon, Connecticut
Title: A paradox of power; voices of warning and reason in the geosciences
Author(s): Thorson, Robert M.Harris, Andrew G.Harris, Sandra L.Gradie, Robert, IIILefor, M. W.
Author(s): Welby, Charles W.editor
Author(s): Gowan, Monica E.editor
Affiliation: University of Connecticut, Department of Geology and Geophysics, Storrs, CT, United States
Affiliation: North Carolina State University, Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences, Raleigh, NC, United States
Pages: 23-42
Published: 1998
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
ISBN: 0-8137-4112-2
References: 70
Accession Number: 2003-042454
Categories: Environmental geologyGeomorphology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. sects., 6 tables, sketch maps
N41°16'60" - N41°43'00", W72°28'00" - W71°47'60"
Secondary Affiliation: GeoLogic Company, USA, United States
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 200314
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