Draws on the author’s own experiences as a watershed planner, teacher, and activist to tell the story of the Great Lakes region’s experiment in restoring a complicated natural system of flowing water.
Meander tells the story of the Great Lakes region's experiment in restoring a complicated natural system of flowing water. Drawing on her own experience as a watershed planner, teacher, and Great Lakes activist, Margaret Wooster describes the language, history, and failures of many of our water management policies. She then turns to Buffalo Creek to teach us how the Great Lakes work—from a "hill made of water" to a cut-off oxbow to a buried delta transitioning from two centuries of industrialization. Wooster explores how, on the Niagara Frontier especially, traditional ecological knowledge and Indigenous values were suppressed by colonial rules of settlement. The ecosystem value of physical integrity—or connectivity between upstream and down, surface flow to aquifer, river to land was never fully unpacked. While our management policies often sever them, these connections are key to Buffalo Creek and Great Lakes recovery and resilience. Wooster leaves us with the idea that it is up to us, the people who live along these flows and in their watersheds, to learn as much as we can about these connections and to use our local authorities to "make room for rivers" and protect our planet's circulatory system for future generations.
Margaret Wooster has worked as a watershed planner for local governments and environmental groups in Western New York, was a founding member of Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, and has taught Environmental Planning at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. She is the author of Living Waters: Reading the Rivers of the Lower Great Lakes, also published by SUNY Press. She lives in Buffalo, New York.