This article compares the Russian concept of ekologiia kul′tury (ecology of culture) to Western cultural ecology. Both ideas see human cultures evolving in close relations with their environment, but they sharply differ in their conclusions. Instead of highlighting literature’s potential as an ecological force, ekologiia kul′tury emphasizes morals, traditional values, and Christian ideology. Russian naturfilosofskaia proza (natural-philosophical prose) shares these features with ekologiia kul′tury, which this article shows by analyzing writings of rivers in it. Naturfilosofskaia proza is also an example of literature as cultural ecology, and this article shows how representations of rivers in the so-called noosphere stories by Sergei Zalygin, Valentin Rasputin, and Viktor Astaf´ev illustrate its function as an ecological force within cultural discourses.