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The Corps and the Shore
Orrin H. Pilkey and Katharine L. Dixon
Island Press, 1996
For more than a century, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been building fortifications along the American coastline in an effort to protect our vulnerable shores. With the prospect of seaborne invasion becoming increasingly unlikely, the Corps has turned its attention to a more subtle but no less dangerous threat: the insidious effects of coastal erosion.In The Corps and the Shore, Orrin H. Pilkey, the nation's most outspoken coastal geologist, and Katharine L. Dixon, an educator and activist for national coastal policy reform, provide a comprehensive examination of the impact of coastal processes on developed areas and the ways in which the Corps of Engineers has attempted to manage erosion along America's coastline.Through detailed case studies of large-scale projects in Texas, Maine, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and South Carolina, the authors demonstrate the shortcomings of the Corps's underlying assumptions and methodology. As they discuss the role of local citizens in the project process, they highlight the interaction between local Corps offices and community officials and residents. By focusing on different types of problems in various regions of the country, Pilkey and Dixon clearly show how the Corps has repeatedly failed to act in the best interest of those most affected by the projects. As well as criticizing Corps practices, the authors provide numerous suggestions for reforming the Corps and making it both more scientifically accountable and more accountable to the citizens it is intended to serve.The Corps and the Shore is essential reading for coastal residents, environmentalists, planners, and coastal city officials as well as geologists, civil engineers, marine scientists, and anyone concerned with the impact of human society on our shorelines.

front cover of Engineering Security
Engineering Security
The Corps of Engineers and Third System Defense Policy, 1815–1861
Mark A. Smith
University of Alabama Press, 2009
Thorough examination of the antebellum fortifications that formed the backbone of U.S. military defense during the National Period

The system of coastal defenses built by the federal government after the War of 1812 was more than a series of forts standing guard over a watery frontier. It was an integrated and comprehensive plan of national defense developed by the US Army Corps of Engineers, and it represented the nation’s first peacetime defense policy.

Known as the Third System since it replaced two earlier attempts, it included coastal fortifications but also denoted the values of the society that created it. The governing defense policy was one that combined permanent fortifications to defend seaports, a national militia system, and a small regular army.

The Third System remained the defense paradigm in the United States from 1816 to 1861, when the onset of the Civil War changed the standard. In addition to providing the country with military security, the system also provided the context for the ongoing discussion in Congress over national defense through annual congressional debates on military funding.

front cover of Environmental Preservation and the Grey Cliffs Conflict
Environmental Preservation and the Grey Cliffs Conflict
Negotiating Common Narratives, Values, and Ethos
Kristin D. Pickering
Utah State University Press, 2024
Based on a qualitative, ethnographic, observational case study approach, Environmental Preservation and the Grey Cliffs Conflictpresents an analysis of the conflict negotiation between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a local community that struggled to address a deteriorating Corps-managed recreational lake area in Tennessee known as “Grey Cliffs.” Viewing the dispute from the perspective of a new member of the community and a specialist in technical communication and professional writing, Kristin Pickering provides a unique perspective on this communication process.
Though environmental degradation and unauthorized use threatened the Grey Cliffs recreational lake area to the point that the Corps considered closure, community members valued it highly and wanted to keep it open. The community near this damaged and crime-ridden area needed help rejuvenating its landscape and image, but the Corps and community were sharply divided on how to maintain this beloved geographic space because of the stakeholders’ different cultural backgrounds and values, as well as the narratives used to discuss them. By co-constructing and aligning narratives, values, and ethos over time—a difficult and lengthy process—the Corps and community succeeded, and Grey Cliffs remains open to all. Focusing on field notes, participant interviews, and analysis of various texts created throughout the conflict, Pickering applies rhetorical analysis and a grounded theory approach to regulation, identity, sustainability, and community values to analyze this communication process.
Illustrating the positive change that can occur when governmental organizations and rural communities work together to construct shared values and engage in a rhetoric of relationship that preserves the environment, Environmental Preservation and the Grey Cliffs Conflict provides key recommendations for resolving environmental conflicts within local communities, especially for those working in technical and professional communication, organizational communication, environmental science, and public policy.

front cover of Structures in the Stream
Structures in the Stream
Water, Science, and the Rise of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
By Todd Shallat
University of Texas Press, 1994

As the Mississippi and other midwestern rivers inundated town after town during the summer of 1993, concerned and angry citizens questioned whether the very technologies and structures intended to "tame" the rivers did not, in fact, increase the severity of the floods. Much of the controversy swirled around the apparent culpability of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the builder of many of the flood control systems that failed.

In this book, Todd Shallat examines the turbulent first century of the dam and canal building Corps and follows the agency's rise from European antecedents through the boom years of river development after the American Civil War. Combining extensive research with a lively style, Shallat tells the story of monumental construction and engineering fiascoes, public service and public corruption, and the rise of science and the army expert as agents of the state.

More than an institutional history, Structures in the Stream offers significant insights into American society, which has alternately supported the public works projects that are a legacy of our French heritage and opposed them based on the democratic, individualist tradition inherited from Britain. It will be important reading for a wide audience in environmental, military, and scientific history, policy studies, and American cultural history.


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