Rewilding the Urban Frontier


Rewilding the Urban Frontier

River Conservation in the Anthropocene

Edited by Greg Gordon 

342 pages
20 photographs, 3 illustrations, 8 maps, index


August 2024


$65.00 Pre-order

About the Book

More so than other ecosystems, urban rivers typify our evolving relationship with nature. Once a necessity for the development of civilization, by the twentieth century America’s rivers became neglected and abused, channelized, dammed, and filled with sewage and toxic waste. While acknowledging the profound impact our species has had on the natural world, and rivers in particular, Rewilding the Urban Frontier argues that the Anthropocene presents opportunities for rethinking our relationship to the natural world and potentially healing the age-old rift between humans and nature.

Although the Clean Water Act of 1972 spurred a cleanup of the nation’s waterways, explosive urban growth has since fragmented the wildlife corridors and ecosystems along our rivers. The contributors to this volume contend that if done right, rewilding urban rivers can help avoid further loss of biodiversity and simultaneously address environmental and social inequities.

Author Bio

Greg Gordon is a professor of environmental studies at Gonzaga University. He is the author of When Money Grew on Trees: A. B. Hammond and the Age of the Timber Baron and The Landscape of Desire: Identity and Nature in Utah’s Canyon Country.


“Because most of us reside in cities, and cities invariably grew up along rivers, the river restoration themes the authors of Rewilding the Urban Frontier lay out in this fine book will seem smart and practical, maybe even obvious, to every American who still senses the evolutionary pull of nature on the human animal. This prophetic book is about a future we’re building, and there’s nothing dystopian about it in the least.”—Dan Flores, New York Times best-selling author of Coyote America and Wild New World

“Abused for generations, America’s rivers are making a comeback in a city near you! A thought-provoking confluence of observations, ideas, and reflections on the riparian renaissance now underway across the nation.”—Laurence C. Smith, author of Rivers of Power and The World in 2050

Rewilding the Urban Frontier is an unflinching yet ultimately hopeful revelation that the human connection to nature is most essential in the places we call home. These are powerful stories of environmental recognition, restoration, and renewal—and a river runs through them.”—Sara Dant, author of Losing Eden: An Environmental History of the American West

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction. Origins
Greg Gordon
Part 1. Headwaters: Reconciling Personal, Cultural, and Ecological Trauma
1. Haunted
Heidi Lasher
2. We Buried Our People along the River
Margo Hill
3. Terms and Conditions Apply
Greg Gordon
Part 2. Tributaries: How City Rivers Make River Cities
4. Wild, Managed, and Reclaimed: An Environmental History of the San Antonio River Watershed
Char Miller
5. From Floodplain to Kayak Park: Recreation, Restoration, and Economic Development along the Boise River
Jennifer Stevens
6. Urban Ecology: Rewilding Rivers and Creating Outdoor Classrooms in Milwaukee
Christian C. Young
7. The Lost River: The Revitalization of the Jordan River in the Salt Lake Valley
Marian L. Rice
Part 3. Convergence: Old Rivers, New Plumbing
8. Engineering Nature: Denver and the South Platte River
Brian M. Murphy
9. Cyborg Salmon and Plumbed Basins: Ambivalence and Compromise on the Deschutes
Kirsten Rudestam
10. Neon River: Rethinking Chicago Environmental History and Personhood in the Age of Humans
Shawn Bailey
Part 4. Delta: Rewilding’s Perils
11. A River Lament: New Creek and the People Who Loved It Near to Death
Robert Bartlett
12. Restoration’s Dark Side: Gentrification and Daylighting the Saw Mill River in Yonkers, New York
C. Ian Stevenson
13. Angling in the Anthropocene: Carp and the Making of Race on the Los Angeles River
Bryan B. Rasmussen

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