When early settlers from Europe approached the land that is now the United States, they noticed a sweet and surprising "land smell", a clue that they were near the shore. This "land smell" came from the great, thick forest that covered all the eastern part of the country and stretched about 1,600 kilometres westward until it met the tall grass of the prairies, the wide rolling and almost treeless plains.
Still farther west from the prairies the vegetation map looks quite mixed. Forests cover the slopes where mountains catch enough rain. A few grassy meadows lie in the high mountain valleys. On the dry lowland and on high tablelands dry bushes grow, as well as grass common to arid regions.
The greatest wonder of all are the forests of sequoia and fir trees on the northwest coast, where the mountains catch the heavy Pacific rain. These great trees, some of which are 3,000 years old, are among the oldest living things known. Some of them were seedlings when Troy fell, and already giants when Rome was founded. Most of these forests are protected by law and preserved as a national treasure. Numerous national parks are to be found in different parts of the United States of America.
The richest stands of softwood timber are to be found on the well-watered Pacific Highlands. Washington, Oregon and northern California are the leading sources of saw-mill timber in the United States. The coastal margins of Alaska, too, are mild enough for large coniferous trees. But much of the interior and the north, especially those parts away from the river valleys, is covered only with sparsely distributed, stunted trees or tundra.
In the eastern United States the dominant trees are hardwoods, but valuable pine forests are found in the Upper Lakes region and in parts of the Gulf-Atlantic plain. However, much timber has been destroyed in the east, both by cutting and by fire, and in some places it has simply been replaced by land under less valuable secondary trees. Now more care is taken of what remains of the former vast forests. Over a quarter of the country is still under forest, which ranges from the mangroves and swamp-forests of Florida to the huge firs and redwoods of the Pacific States, and from hickory, walnut, and oak of the east-central states to the pines of Minnesota and the Rocky Mountains. More than 1,000 varieties of forest trees have been described.
Animal life, or wildlife, was one of the chief resources of the United States during the earliest years of its development. Today wildlife is fairly unimportant as a natural resource, except for certain fur-bearing animals and fish.
In the zone of mixed forests the brown bear, the lynx, the wolverine are to be found. The forest is the home of the Virginia deer, the black bear, the gray fox, the raccoon, and the common opossum. In small numbers bisons are found (in reserves only). The alligator has its home in the south-east of the country. For deserts and semi-deserts various rodents and reptiles are characteristic, while the tundra and taiga animals are typical of Alaska.
Fur-bearing animals today are found in some of the forested mountains and in the swampy districts of both the North and the South. The chief fur-bearing animals left in the United States are musk-rats, skunks and raccoons. In some parts of the country farms have been established where certain animals are grown. For their fur-silver fox and mink farms have been especially successful.
Fish caught off the Atlantic, Pacific, and the Gulf coasts of the United States are an important natural resource. Fishing also provides an important industry on the Great Lakes. The coastal waters of New England have excellent fishing grounds, where cod, herring and mackerel abound. The Pacific coastal waters of Alaska are rich in salmon.
The Gold Rush that changed life so suddenly for Alaska was soon ended, and although many stories about mining camps have become part of American literature, the gold from Alaskan earth contributed less to economic progress than the fish from Alaskan waters. The fish caught in a single year ranges in value from 80 to 90 million dollars. Fur-bearing animals are plentiful in the forests and streams, and valuable fur seals inhabit the waters. Since 1911 Canada, Japan, Russia and the United States have jointly agreed to control the hunting of seals.
As in many countries, fishing in the United States is not entirely a commercial undertaking, but is also a popular sport. In summer many tourists in various parts of the country try their luck in rivers and lakes. Vocabulary to stunt saw-mill mangrove abound seal coniferous mackerel tundra reptile
tableland hardwood softwood
hickory rodent sequoia
Comprehension Check Exercise I. Scan the text for the answers to the given questions.
1. What did early settlers from Europe notice when they approached the land that is now the United States?
3. Where are the leading sources of saw-mill timber concentrated?
4. What proportion of the United States is still under forest?
5. What chief fur-bearing animals are left in the United States?
6. Where are the main fishing grounds of the country to be found?
7. What is the importance of various kinds of animals and fish for the country? Exercise II. Paraphrase the following expressions, using new words and phrases from the text. 1) to be in great plenty; 2) the wood of broad-leaved dicotyledonous trees (as distinguished from the wood of conifers); 3) American hardwood tree bearing edible nuts; 4) relatively small gnawing animals, as rabbits, rats; 5) gigantic coniferous evergreen trees native to California; 6) a place where logs are sawn by mechanical power; 7) a tropical tree or shrub bearing fruit that germinates while still on the tree and having numerous prop roots that eventually form an impenetrable mass and are important in land building; 8) a relatively flat highland; 9) relating to trees or shrubs bearing cones and evergreen leaves; 10) any cold-blooded vertebrate; 11) wood that is easy to saw (from conifers such as pine or fir); 12) to check the growth; to dwarf. Exercise III.Fill in the blank with the correct word:
1. On the dry lowland and on high ... dry bushes grow, as well as grass common to ... regions.
2. The coastal margins of Alaska, too, are mild enough for large ... trees.
3. But much of the interior and the north, especially those parts away from the river valleys, is covered only with sparsely distributed, ... trees.
4. For deserts and semi-deserts various ... and reptiles are characteristic.
5. The chief fur-bearing animals left in the United States are ..., ..., and raccoons.
6. The coastal waters of New England have excellent fishing grounds, where ..., herring and mackerel abound.
7. The Pacific coastal waters of Alaska are rich in ... . Exercise IV. Find in the text the English words and phrases corresponding to the Russian equivalents. 1) смешанная растительность; 2) плоскогорье; 3) редколесье низкорослых деревьев; 4) лесонасаждения; 5) саженцы, сеянцы; 6) пушные звери; 7) мхи и лишайники; 8) скудная растительность; 9) хвойные деревья с примесью мелколиственных пород; 10) смешанные и широколиственные леса; 11) твёрдая древесина; 12) мягкая древесина. Exercise V. Find out whether the statement is true or false according to the information in the text. 1. When early settlers from Europe approached the land that is now the United States, they noticed an unknown land.
2. A few grassy meadows lie in the high mountain valleys.
3. The richest stands of softwood timber are to be found on the well-watered Atlantic Highlands.
4. The forest is the home of the Virginia deer, the black bear, the grey fox, the raccoon, and the common opossum.
5. Fur-bearing animals are found in some of the forested mountains and in the swampy districts of both the East and the West.
6. As in many countries, fishing in the United States is a commercial undertaking. Exercise VI.Translate into English. Растительность. На Северо-Востоке страны и вблизи Великих озёр в сочетании с лугами и пашнями встречаются хвойно-широколиственные леса из сосен, елей, пихты, клёна, липы и ясеня. На юге, в нижнем поясе Аппалачей они сменяются широколиственными лесами (дуб, клён, тюльпанное дерево, платан); к югу в них появляются магнолии, лавры и другие жестколистные вечнозелёные растения. На Центральных равнинах ранее господствовала высокотравная растительность прерий, ныне не сохранившаяся. Степные ландшафты характерны для Запада и отдельных районов Кордильер. Для пустынь и полупустынь Большого Бассейна характерны полынь, лебеда, а также полукустарники и кустарники; к югу— крупные кактусы и др. В Кордильерах преобладают хвойные леса. На основной территории на наиболее сухих склонах — сосновые леса, в более влажных привершинных частях — елово-пихтовые, выше 2100 — 3300 м — субальпийские и альпийские луга. На Аляске преобладают хвойные редколесья северо-таежного типа и тундровая растительность. В американской тайге растут черная и белая ель, бальзамическая пихта, американская лиственница, сосны разных видов.
Животный мир. В зоне смешанных лесов обитают бурый медведь, рысь, росомаха, куница, скунс; травоядные: лоси, олени вапити. В лесах Аппалачей — виргинский олень, красная рысь, большой бурундук, крот звездорыл, различные виды летучих мышей. На юго-востоке — аллигатор, кайманова черепаха, пекари, сумчатая крыса (опоссум); из птиц — фламинго, пеликан, колибри. В небольшом количестве сохранились животные степей: бизоны (только в заповедниках), антилопа, олени, койот, лисица прерий, гремучая змея. Многочисленные местные виды хорьков, барсуков и сусликов. Для полупустынь и пустынь характерны различные грызуны и пресмыкающиеся. На склонах Кордильер обитают снежный козёл, толсторогий баран, медведь гризли (главным образом на Аляске), на Юге — ягуар, броненосец. На Аляске многочисленны животные тайги и тундры, в том числе северный олень. В прибрежных водах Атлантического океана большое промысловое значение имеют треска, сельдь; в Тихом океане — лососёвые, палтус, тунец, крабы, креветки, устрицы и др. В целом численность диких животных резко уменьшилась. Exercise VI. Crossword – test Clues: 1) the largest land-dwelling species of the Mustelidae or weasel family; also called the Glutton or Carcajou; 2) an elongate fish found in fresh water in Europe and America; 3) a specific kind of something; 4) any of several tropical American mammals which lack teeth and feed on ants and termites; 5) any warm-blooded vertebrate having the skin more or less covered with hair; young are born alive except for the small subclass of monotremes and nourished with milk; 6) short-tailed wildcats with usually tufted ears; valued for their fur; 7) relatively small gnawing animals having a single pair of constantly growing incisor teeth specialized for gnawing; 8) a large northern deer with enormous flattened antlers in the male (it is called moose in North America ); 9) freshwater carnivorous mammal having webbed and clawed feet and dark brown fur; 10) a pit viper with horny segments at the end of the tail that rattle when shaken; 11) a large semiaquatic rodent with webbed hind feet and a broad flat tail; construct complex dams and underwater lodges; 12) an omnivorous nocturnal mammal native to North America and Central America; 13) a terrestrial or aquatic flesh-eating mammal; 14) a kind of polecat of prairie regions of United States; nearly extinct; 15) a long-eared deer of western North America with two-pronged antlers; 16) an arctic deer with large antlers in both sexes; called a reindeer in Eurasia; 17) an alligator-like reptile of Central America and South America having a more heavily armored belly; 18) a large shaggy-coated bovid mammal intermediate in size and anatomy between an ox and a sheep; 19) American musteline mammal typically ejecting an intensely malodorous fluid when startled; 20) any of various predatory carnivorous canine mammals of North America and Eurasia that usually hunt in packs; 21) either of two amphibious reptiles related to crocodiles but with with shorter broader snouts; 22) two-winged insect whose female has a long proboscis to pierce the skin and suck the blood of humans and animals; 23) nocturnal arboreal marsupial having a naked prehensile tail found from southern North America to northern South America; 24) any of several large shaggy-maned humped bovids having large heads and short horns; 25) very important usually small (to 18 in) fatty Atlantic fishany of the family Scombridae; 26) large northern deer with enormous flattened antlers in the male; called elk in Europe; 27) large American feline resembling a lion, another name is puma; 28) burrowing chiefly nocturnal mammal with body covered with strong horny plates; 29) any of several slow-moving arboreal mammals of South America and Central America; they hang from branches back downward and feed on leaves and fruits; 30) slender-bodied semiaquatic mammal having partially webbed feet; valued for its fur; 31) largest flying birds in the western hemisphere; 32) sturdy carnivorous burrowing mammal with strong claws widely distributed in the northern hemisphere; 33) beaver-like aquatic rodent of North America with dark glossy brown fur.