Sunday, October 11, 2015

Ecological Restoration

The field of Restoration Ecology began to develop and formalize at about the same time as Environmental Aesthetics. Like Environmental Aesthetics, Restoration Ecology developed organizations, recruited members, established journals, and held conferences, and still does. As an ecologist, I became involved with Restoration Ecology during those years I worked on urban greening and habitat restoration projects. Although my professional work has shifted, I’ve kept track of the restoration folks.

 For example, some interesting restoration is underway with the Los Angeles River in Southern California. From 1914 to 1938 a number of floods caused much devastation and substantial death along the river. In response, in 1940 the US Army Corps of Engineers began to channelize the river pulling it between concrete walls.

Shortly after work began, in 1941 I was born in Los Angeles and for all of my young life frequently drove back and forth across the concrete channel…from homeplace to grandparental place…from the university where I worked to the one where I studied…and finally taking girlfriends to the beautiful beaches (I married one of those lovely California girls 54 years ago).  I’ve watched many films with the cops chasing the cons up and down the concrete channel…actor Arnold Schwarzenegger struggling to save humanity from future machines and, most recently in Fear the Walking Dead as a zombie apocalypse overwhelms Los Angeles.   

I’m now very pleased to see the work underway to restore the Los Angeles River.  And while some may find aesthetic pleasure in a concrete channel I think most of us would rather see rocky rapids, islands of emergent vegetation, and wildlife fill the channel. 

Several of us have formed an Environmental Aesthetics Study Group. Membership is free and by invitation. For an invitation contact