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The Story of the Land is The Story of Many Forces

Story of Vermont --

Elwood, as head forester in the Extension Office, was often asked to speak to the environmental studies class at the local college. Some of the students believed that, if it were not for the actions of modern man, the landscape would remain essentially unchanged forever. Elwood knew people could have a significant short term impact on the landscape, but that there were many other forces man could not control that could change the landscape.

With his lecture coming up soon Elwood stopped at the Library to see if Kathy, the librarian, had any suggestions for references that might help the students better understand the dynamics of the New England landscape.

Kathy told Elwood that Middlebury College and the University Press of New England had just inaugurated a new series on environmental studies with the publication of The Story of Vermont, A Natural and Cultural History. Kathy said the book, which was about the geological, biological and cultural history of Vermont over the past billion years, discussed how the contour of the land, as well as the vegetation and animal life had changed.

On Kathy's recommendation Elwood borrowed a copy of Story of Vermont from the library.

Back in his office Elwood opened The Story of Vermont. As soon as Elwood started reading Chapter 1, The Past as Prelude, The Early Evolution of Vermont's Landscape he knew he would enjoy reading the informative well-researched book.

After reading about "the four major periods of glacial activity" Elwood turned to Chapter 2, The First Colonists, and read about the period that began 13,000 years ago after the Laurentide ice sheet retreated. He then read that before the Europeans arrived the inhabitants of New England were "the Paleoindians, the Archaic, the Woodland and the Abenaki." Long before the earth moving and polluting inventions of modern man, these native American's changed the landscape by harvesting vegetation, clearing the land and hunting animals, some of which became extinct.

By early afternoon Elwood had read about how European settlers had changed the landscape by logging, agriculture and mining. Elwood read Chapter 5, The Return of the Forest, with interest. It was about how, after the Civil War, the forests returned as farming declined.

When Elwood came to Chapter 10, The Future of Vermont, he knew he was going to suggest all the students read Story of Vermont. The authors clearly stated what Elwood knew to be true - It is clear that Vermont's landscape has been shaped by many forces, both natural and cultural . . . Vermont's future will be shaped by geological, biological and cultural forces . . .

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