#EnvHist Worth Reading: March 2024

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Every month I carefully track the most popular and significant environmental history articles, videos, audio, and other items making their way through the online environmental history (#envhist) community. You can read all of our past #EnvHist Worth Reading lists right here. Here are my choices for items most worth reading from March 2024:

1. Dammed but Not Doomed

This Hakai Magazine article by Moira Donovan is a deep dive into the history history and current restoration of the Skutik River and the alewives that call the river home. Donovan pays particular attention to the Passamaquoddy Nation, whose territory straddles the US-Canada border and their relationship to this fish. Just as the Passamaquoddy were pushed from their lands, the alewife also steadily lost its river habitat due to damming beginning in the nineteenth century, which threatened to wipe out the entire population. Recent dam removal projects, Donovan writes, have marked a new era of restoration both of the river ecosystems, but also of the Passamaquoddy’s cultural ties to the river and this special fish. “Restoring this system has meant learning the limits of dissection—the worldview that separates organism from landscape—and instead, considering people, environments, and animals holistically, as a living system,” Donovan writes.

2. Spring is getting earlier. Find out how it’s changed in your town.

Leaves are arriving one week earlier in the spring in Cooksburg, Pennsylvania in 2024 in comparison to 1981.

Many of us have noticed changes in our local climates, particularly in the past decade. These changes are often most noticeable in spring when we have accustomed to specific landmark natural events happening on a reliable timeline. In this article and data tool from The Washington Post, one can enter one’s US community to see how much earlier leaves are arriving today in comparison to 1981. For my hometown, Cooksburg, Pennsylvania, leaves (and thus symbolically, spring) are arriving one week earlier than in the decade I was born.

3. Why Regina is the only capital city in Canada on a man-made lake

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of Regina’s “Big Dig,” which deepened Wascana Lake. This effort cost $18 million dollars. This man-made lake in the center of Saskatchewan’s capital is 150 years old. This short video from CBC Saskatchewan tells the story of this lake and why Regina is the only capital in Canada that isn’t situated on a natural water source.

4. The Bizarre History of Hollywood’s Animal Stars

This video by Kaz Rowe is an interesting deep dive into the history of some of Hollywood’s animal stars, including Rin Tin Tin, Trigger, and Lassie. Rowe covers the rise of animal stars and the problems and dramas that rose alongside. They also cover speciesism and other cultural and scientific developments that affected human treatment of animal stars.

5. Balto with Blair Braverman – You’re Wrong About Podcast

In this episode of You’re Wrong About, Blair Braverman discusses the real dog(s) that inspired the legend of the sled dog Balto. Balto rose to fame in 1925 when he led a team of sled dogs, driven by Gunnar Kaasen, that carried diphtheria antitoxin from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska. Braverman and host, Sarah Marshall, discuss how the real story of Balto is much more complicated than the one that has been proliferated through children’s literature and film.

Feature Image: “Balto the wonder dog” by Dan Coulter is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
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is an environmental historian of Canada and the United States, editor, and digital communications strategist. She earned her PhD in History from the University of Saskatchewan in 2019. She is an executive member, editor-in-chief, and social media editor for the Network in Canadian History and Environment (NiCHE). She is also a working board member of the Saskatchewan History and Folklore Society and Girls Rock Saskatoon. A passionate social justice advocate, she focuses on developing digital techniques and communications that bridge the divide between academia and the general public in order to democratize knowledge access. You can find out more about her and her freelance services at jessicamdewitt.com.

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