has Boulder's urbanization changed the natural environment, to what
extent, and when? It is not necessary to survey the entire city
to gain an appreciation of these changes; much can be learned by
focusing on a portion of a single watershed. Case studies and reconnaissance
surveys such as these are used frequently for preliminary exploration
of complex phenomena and for planning larger research projects.
The value of such a study relies on how well the case represents
the processes found throughout the environment. A good "case"
for our study is the University of Colorado main campus at Boulder.
It lies almost entirely within the Boulder Creek watershed and its
growth since the late nineteenth century is closely related to Boulder's
development as a major university city. In focusing on Boulder Creek
and the University of Colorado, we will address how the development
of the campus has 1) changed the natural groundcover in the watershed;
2) the extent of the modifications; and 3) when these changes occurred.
of Urbanization on Environment: An Overview
The interaction between society and environment is
a fundamental theme of much geographical research. Cities are an
excellent place to study these interactions. The process of urbanization
results in large numbers of people gathering in relatively small
areas. There the effects of habitation are concentrated and focused.
Human effects on the atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere
are often so pronounced that cities can be said to create their
own environments. They do this in a number of ways: