Timber rafts were floated down the Mississippi from Prescott Wisconsin to sawmills and markets to the south in 1885. The rafts were made up of cribs—16- by 32-foot sets of logs roped together. SOURCE: Neuzil (2001).

change to riparian systems across the country have been extensive, diverse, and persistent.

America’s rivers, streams, and lakes and their attendant riparian systems have been utilized for centuries, generally with limited knowledge about the environmental consequences of such actions on either current or subsequent generations. Many of the impacts to riparian systems have been directly or indirectly related to policies of proactive resource development that have dominated the history of this nation. An expanding population base coupled with an increasing standard of living has ensured a high and increasing demand upon the productivity not only of riparian areas, but also of all the nation’s natural resources. Continued population growth and increasing resource demands remain a dominant force in the national agenda. Even though large areas (e.g., national parks and national forests) have been set aside and policies developed to protect some of their natural resources, protection of other portions of the American landscape has been less stringent, less organized, and not always implemented. Riparian areas are characteristic of this latter situation.

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