American fascination with the frontier and concern that economic progress might waste the beauty and vast resources of the wilderness has helped environmental history in the United States to thrive for some time. Many publications tended to be conservationist and ‘foundationalist’ in terms of the lofty place ascribed to nature. These traits were shaped by the subject's formative links with political environmentalism, as both phenomena came to life in the 1960s as self-conscious and independent activities. Even after scholars became more interested in the role played by the capitalist system in conditioning the way that cities made demands on the environment, environmental historians’ study of urban growth, including the search for water supplies, tended to focus upon the impacts on the land or its original Indian inhabitants, on how rural harmonies were disrupted by urban greed – in sum to cede to a ‘broader agroecological approach’ as the dominant orthodoxy within the discipline. American environmental historians, of course, are fixated by these issues and have engaged in subtle and profound debates about the proper purpose and methods of their calling.