Michele Archie’s article on conservation and tourism development in “America’s Amazon” has been published by the National Park Service. The article draws from a year and a half of research and collaboration with local organizations exploring conservation alternatives in Alabama’s Mobile-Tensaw River Delta.
The report, entitled, A state of knowledge of the natural, cultural, and economic resources of the Greater Mobile-Tensaw River Area, is a compilation of 23 chapters from experts in everything from crustaceans to cultural resources.
Here’s the official description of the report:
From the convergence of the Alabama and Tombigbee rivers in southern Alabama, arise the sister Mobile and Tensaw Rivers, and one of the great natural and cultural wonders of North America. The Greater Mobile-Tensaw River Area has been called “America’s Amazon” because of its obvious natural bounty, wondrous complexity, and profound diversity. Dramatic bluff lands and pinelands plunge down to the Mobile-Tensaw Bottomlands and Delta comprised of ever-changing levees, islands, channels, and bayous.
The region’s unique geology and hydrology underpin its dynamic biotic systems as, likewise, do associated ecological processes that range from the lingering influences of ancient and far-off continental glaciation to the daily rise and fall of tides and changes in water salinity. Flora and fauna of the area are at once fragile and bountiful—the area contains many endangered, threatened, and special concern species, but also tree species diversity that ranks among the highest in North America, a diverse assemblage of freshwater crustaceans, over 200 species of birds, and likely the greatest turtle diversity in the world.
The Greater Mobile-Tensaw River Area is steeped in human history, as well, from the originating Native American tribes and the mysteries of their ancient mounds awaiting exploration; through the area’s critical role in European settlement of America and, later, the American Civil War; through today’s cultural and economic vibrancy of its adjacent urban center, Mobile. Here people’s lives are woven among the dynamic rhythms of the area’s lands and waters. Yet, much remains elusive about how the area’s places are connected ecologically, socially, and economically.
This holistic volume combines science, natural and cultural history, economics, and personal reflection to call attention to the connectivity of the area, to acknowledge challenges from human encroachment, and to serve as a foundation for a discussion of shared ecological, cultural, and economic stewardship of the Greater Mobile-Tensaw River Area.