The National Park Service has begun the ecological restoration of areas along a 72-mile stretch of the upper Mississippi River known as the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. These projects aim to ecologically restore degraded landscapes by removing invasive species and planting native vegetation. The Park Service uses species compositions from pre-settlement Minnesota to inform its restoration efforts. I have investigated what plant species grew in the region centered around the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers through extensive research into eighteenth and nineteenth century sources such as the journals and notes of Euro-American explorers, government land surveys, and Native American cultural uses of plants. My research has culminated in a list of vegetation that grew along the river before Euro-American settlement in what is now the Twin Cities, which the Park Service can use in its restoration of historical landscapes. My project illustrates the uses of a historical perspective to research and understand the underlying philosophy and values of the field of ecological restoration. I show that all ecosystems are the products of human economic activities, which change over time, which complicates efforts to restore historical, dynamic landscapes.
Adels, Samuel M., "Restoring the Mississippi River Ecosystem in the Twin Cities: The Values of a Historical Approach" (2009). Honors Projects. Paper 3.
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