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Bridging a Great Divide

The Battle for the Columbia River Gorge

Kathie Durbin

In 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act, setting into motion one of the great land-use experiments of modern times. The act struck a compromise between protection for one of the West’s most stunning landscapes—the majestic Gorge carved by Ice Age floods, which today divides Washington and Oregon—and encouragement of compatible economic development in communities on both sides of the river.

In Bridging a Great Divide, award-winning environmental journalist Kathie Durbin draws on interviews, correspondence, and extensive research to tell the story of the major shifts in the Gorge since the Act’s passage. Sweeping change has altered the Gorge’s landscape: upscale tourism and outdoor recreation, gentrification, the end of logging in national forests, the closing of aluminum plants, wind farms, and a population explosion in the metropolitan area to its west. Yet, to the casual observer, the Gorge looks much the same as it did twenty-five years ago.

How can we measure the success of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act? In this insightful and revealing history, Durbin suggests that the answer depends on who you are: a small business owner, an environmental watchdog group, a chamber of commerce. The story of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is the story of the Pacific Northwest in microcosm, as the region shifts from a natural-resource-based economy to one based on recreation, technology, and quality of life.

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Building a Better Nest

Living Lightly at Home and in the World

Evelyn Searle Hess

For fifteen years, Evelyn Hess and her husband David lived in a tent and trailer, without electricity or running water, on twenty acres of wild land in the foothills of the Oregon Coast Range. When they decided to build a house – a real house at last – they knew it would have to respect the lessons of simple living that they learned in their camping life. They knew they could not do it alone. Building a Better Nest chronicles their adventures as they begin to construct a house of their own, seeking a model for sustainable living not just in their home, but beyond its walls.

What does it mean to build a better nest? Better for whom? Is it better for the individual or family? The planet? Green building and sustainable design are popular buzzwords, but to Hess, sustainable building is not a simple matter of buying and installing the latest recycled flooring products. It is also about cooperative work: working together in employment, in research, in activism, and in life. Hess is concerned with her local watershed, but also with the widening income gap, disappearing species, and peak resources. She actively works to reduce overconsumption and waste. For Hess, these problems are both philosophical and practical.

As Hess and her husband age, the questions of how to live responsibly arise with greater frequency and urgency. With unfailing wit and humor, she looks for answers in such places as neuroscience, Buddhism, and her ancestral legacy. Building a Better Nest will appeal to anyone with an interest in sustainable building, off-grid living, or alternative communities. The questions it asks about the way we live are earnest and important, from an author whose voice is steeped in wisdom and gratitude.

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California Condors in the Pacific Northwest

Jesse D'Elia and Susan M. Haig

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Catching the Ebb

Drift-fishing for a Life in Cook Inlet

Bert Bender

Bert Bender started fishing Alaska’s Cook Inlet in 1963 with a thirty-foot sailboat converted to gas power and with no equipment for pulling in a net. Catching the Ebb recounts his thirty summers of gill-netting for salmon and describes his parallel career as a professor of American literature. Drawing on his academic specialties—American sea literature and the influence of evolutionary biology and ecology in American writing—Bender celebrates the fishing life and traces the fishery’s path of change, from shifts in the market and the demise of canneries to the effects of the Exxon Valdez disaster of 1989 to the rise of the farmed salmon industry.

Catching the Ebb will appeal to readers interested in Alaska, the sea, and the fishing life. In addition to its stories of people, boats, and fish, Bender’s compelling memoir addresses the critical question: Can we restrain our heedless pollution of the sea and avoid depleting ocean resources?

“That Catching the Ebb is written by a lifelong literary critic and writer who is also a professional commercial fisherman is what gives its unusual quality to this well-written and always absorbing book.”

—Peter Matthiessen, author of The Snow Leopard and Men’s Lives

“Bert Bender has dragged his nets up and down the coast of Alaska and the inlets of his studies, and brought up a world of work and earned contemplation. I loved this book.”

—Ron Carlson, author of Five Skies

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Children and Other Wild Animals

Brian Doyle

In a series of short vignettes, Doyle explores how we live here, the astonishing wealth of companions we have, and the joys available to us when we pause, see, savor, and celebrate the small things that are not small in the least.

Doyle’s trademark quirky prose is at once lyrical, daring and refreshing; his essays touching without being over-sentimental, keen without ever preaching, and revelatory at every turn. Throughout there is humor and humility and a palpable sense of wonder, with passages of reflection so true and hard earned they make you stop and reread a line, a paragraph, a page.

Children & Other Wild Animals gathers previously unpublished work with selections that have appeared in Orion, The Sun, Utne Reader, High Country News, and The American Scholar, as well as Best American Essays (“The Greatest Nature Essay Ever”) and Best American Nature and Science Writing (“Fishering”). “The Creature Beyond the Mountain,” Doyle’s paean to the mighty sturgeon, won the John Burroughs Award for Outstanding Nature Essay.

"Brian Doyle remains stubbornly a writer’s writer, unknown to the best-seller or even the good-seller lists, a Townes Van Zandt of essayists, known by those in the know. For those of us in the know, the appearance of a new Brian Doyle essay is a mini-event, the first name you turn to in the table of contents, the first click on a literary web site. Maybe that’s enough."—The Iowa Review

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Collared

Politics and Personalities in Oregon's Wolf Country

Aimee Lyn Eaton

“Just as the humans involved in the wolf debate deserve to be seen as individuals, not stereotypes, so do the wolves. They are not the boogeyman, or storybook monsters aiming to prey upon the young and old. They aren’t cuddly pets or religious icons. They are Canis lupus. Wolves.” —from the Introduction

Teeming with the tension and passion that accompany one of North America’s most controversial apex predators, Collared tracks the events that unfolded when wolves from the reintroduced population of the northern Rocky Mountains dispersed west across state lines into Oregon.

In a forthright and personal style, Aimee Lyn Eaton takes readers from meeting rooms in the state capitol to ranching communities in the rural northeast corner of the state. Using on-the-ground inquiry, field interviews, and in-depth research, she shares the story of how wolves returned to Oregon and the repercussions of their presence in the state.

Collared: Politics and Personalities in Oregon’s Wolf Country introduces readers to the biologists, ranchers, conservationists, state employees, and lawyers on the front lines, encouraging a deeper, multifaceted understanding of the controversial and storied presence of wolves in Oregon.

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The Columbia River Treaty Revisited

Transboundary River Governance in the Face of Uncertainty

Edited by Barbara Cosens

The Columbia River Treaty, concluded in 1961 and ratified in 1964, split hydropower and flood control regulation of the river between Canada and the United States. Some of its provisions will expire in 2024, and either country must give ten years’ notice of any desired alteration or termination.

The Columbia River Treaty Revisited, with contributions from historians, geographers, environmental scientists, and other experts, is intended to facilitate conversation about the impending expiration. It allows the reader, through the close inspection of the Columbia River Basin, to better grasp the uncertainty of water governance. It aids efforts, already underway, to understand changes in the basin since the treaty was passed, to predict future changes, and to determine whether alteration of the treaty is ultimately advisable.

The Columbia River Treaty Revisited will appeal to those interested in water basin management–scholars, stakeholders, and residents of the Columbia River basin alike.

A Project of the Universities Consoritum on Columbia River Governance. The Universities Consortium on Columbia River Governance, with representatives from universities in the U.S. and Canada, formed to offer a nonpartisan platform to facilitate an informed, inclusive, international dialogue among key decision-makers and other interested people and organizations; to connect university research to problems faced within the basin; and to expose students to a complex water resources problem. The Consortium organized the symposium on which this volume is based.

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Dangerous Subjects

James D. Saules and the Rise of Black Exclusion in Oregon

Kenneth R. Coleman

Dangerous Subjects describes the life and times of James D. Saules, a black sailor who was shipwrecked off the coast of Oregon and settled there in 1841. Before landing in Oregon, Saules traveled the world as a whaleman in the South Pacific and later as a crew member of the United States Exploring Expedition. Saules resided in the Pacific Northwest for just two years before a major wave of Anglo-American immigrants arrived in covered wagons.
 
In Oregon, Saules encountered a multiethnic population already transformed by colonialism—in particular, the fur industry and Protestant missionaries. Once the Oregon Trail emigrants began arriving in large numbers, in 1843, Saules had to adapt to a new reality in which Anglo-American settlers persistently sought to marginalize and exclude black residents from the region. Unlike Saules, who adapted and thrived in Oregon’s multiethnic milieu, the settler colonists sought to remake Oregon as a white man’s country. They used race as shorthand to determine which previous inhabitants would be included and which would be excluded. Saules inspired and later had to contend with a web of black exclusion laws designed to deny black people citizenship, mobility, and land.
 
In Dangerous Subjects, Kenneth Coleman sheds light on a neglected chapter in Oregon’s history. His book will be welcomed by scholars in the fields of western history and ethnic studies, as well as general readers interested in early Oregon and its history of racial exclusion.

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Deeper Sense of Place, A

Stories and Journeys of Collaboration in Indigenous Research

Edited by Jay T. Johnson and Soren C. Larsen

In A Deeper Sense of Place, editors Jay Johnson and Soren Larsen collect stories, essays, and personal reflections from geographers who have worked collaboratively with Indigenous communities across the globe.

These first-person narratives offer insight into the challenges faced by Native and non-Native scholars to their academic and personal approaches during research with Indigenous communities. By addressing the ethical, political, intellectual, and practical meanings of collaboration with Indigenous peoples, A Deeper Sense of Place highlights the ways in which collaborative research can help Indigenous and settler communities find common ground through a shared commitment to land, people, and place.

A Deeper Sense of Place will inform students and academics engaged in research with Indigenous communities, as well as those interested in the challenges of employing critical, qualitative methodologies.

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Diary of a Citizen Scientist

Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World

Sharman Apt Russell

In the exploding world of citizen science, hundreds of thousands of volunteers are monitoring climate change, tracking bird migration, and following their bliss counting stardust for NASA or excavating mastodons. The sheer number of citizen scientists, combined with new technology, has begun to shape how research gets done. Non-professionals become acknowledged experts: dentists turn into astronomers and accountants into botanists.

Diary of a Citizen Scientist is a timely exploration of the phenomenon of citizen science, told through the lens of nature writer Sharman Apt Russell’s yearlong study of a little-known species, the Western red-bellied tiger beetle. In a voice both humorous and lyrical, Russell recounts her persistent and joyful tracking of an insect she calls “charismatic,” “elegant,” and “fierce.” Patrolling the Gila River in southwestern New Mexico, collector’s net in hand, she negotiates the realities of climate change even as she celebrates the beauty of a still-wild and rural landscape.

Russell’s self-awareness—of her occasionally-misplaced confidence, her quest to fill in “that blank spot on the map of tiger beetles,” and her desire to become newly engaged in her life—creates a portrait not only of the tiger beetle she tracks, but of the mindset behind self-driven scientific inquiry. Falling in love with the diversity of citizen science, she participates in crowdsourcing programs that range from cataloguing galaxies to monitoring the phenology of native plants, applauds the growing role of citizen science in environmental activism, and marvels at the profusion of projects around the world.

Diary of a Citizen Scientist offers its readers a glimpse into the transformative properties of citizen science—and documents the transformation of the field as a whole.

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