The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 89, July 1985 - April, 1986

Settlement and Environmental Change in Texas,
1820-1900
ROBIN W. DOUGHTY*
ANY DISCUSSION OF THE EARLY ECOLOGICAL HISTORY OF A REGION
will examine the natural environment and its relationships with
human values and human activities. The focus will be on how and why
the landscape has been reorganized and changed by successive waves of
sojourners and settlers: on the early attempts of travelers and explorers
to harvest the natural richness which they discovered, and on the pio-
neer farmers who soon began to alter the variety, abundance, and dis-
tribution of plants and animals on the land. Such a study will try to dis-
tinguish between humanly induced transformations and the natural
changes that result from tempest, wild fire, pandemics, and other as-
pects of seasonal, annual, or periodic cycles, including drought. On the
other hand, it should avoid drawing a false dichotomy between the de-
structive influence of man and the healing influence of nature.
The present study looks at the process of landscape change in the
province, the country, and the state of Texas. Obviously, a time frame
of several centuries, a very large land area, and the variety of factors
that have brought about both direct and indirect environmental change
in Texas inhibit a comprehensive treatment of the human presence in
the state. We should be able, however, to limit the time frame so as to
bring this essay within manageable proportions. Although some activi-
ties of the early Indian populations may have had an impact on the
natural environment of Texas, and although changes brought about by
Hispanic missions and ranches in South and Southwest Texas can cer-
tainly be documented, the subject of our examination will be the changes
in the Texas environment which came from the migration into the
country of Anglo-Americans and Europeans, which began during the
third and fourth decades of the nineteenth century. We will follow
*Robin W. Doughty, associate professor of geography at the University of Texas, Austin, is
interested in early perceptions and use of the landscape. He is author of Wildlife and Man in
Texas: Evironmental Change and Conservation (College Station, Tex., 1983) and coauthor of The
AmazingArmadillo: Geography of a Folk Critter (Austin, 1984) and "A Home in Texas: Early Views
of the Land," forthcoming from Texas A&M University Press.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 89, July 1985 - April, 1986. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117151/. Accessed August 1, 2014.