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Burntwater

In Navajo country, where the land is thick with legends and forgotten histories, a writer sets out to find a place that no longer exists except on a few old maps: Burntwater. The story opens when two friends get stuck in a remote pocket of the desert as a winter storm moves in. They are taking a wandering route across the Four Corners region, curving through Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona on a long arc into the mythic heart of the country. As they travel, the author calls up past experiences in this land where the past flows seamlessly into the present. He remembers a medicine man whose chanting could start the cold engine of a Volkswagen. He describes an act of sabotage against an oil company by two Vietnam vets armed with deer rifles. He recalls how a winter of herding sheep for a Navajo family and a search for a Hopi known as the Sun Chief led him further into a human landscape as strange and compelling as the terrain. This book takes the backroads, crossing the Colorado Plateau from the headwaters of the Virgin River to the mouth of the Dirty Devil, from the badlands below Twin Angels to a remote mesa in Bandelier. As the miles go by and the stories unfold, there is a growing sense of mystery, of words not spoken, of messages carried on the wind. Reaching the Shrine of the Stone Lions, the writer recounts a near-fatal descent into the Grand Canyon where he finds a way to reconnect with the beauty of life. There his journey ends with an emotional punch that goes straight to the mind and the heart.

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The Butterflies of Iowa

This beautiful and comprehensive guide, many years in the making, is a manual for identifying the butterflies of Iowa as well as 90 percent of the butterflies in the Plains states.
    It begins by providing information on the natural communities of Iowa, paying special attention to butterfly habitat and distribution. Next come chapters on the history of lepidopteran research in Iowa and on creating butterfly gardens, followed by an intriguing series of questions and issues relevant to the study of butterflies in the state.
    The second part contains accounts, organized by family, for the 118 species known to occur in Iowa. Each account includes the common and scientific names for each species, its Opler and Warren number, its status in Iowa, adult flight times and number of broods per season, distinguishing features, distribution and habitat, and natural history information such as behavior and food plant preferences. As a special feature of each account, the authors have included questions that illuminate the research and conservation challenges for each species.
    In the third section, the illustrations, grouped for easier comparison among species, include color photographs of all the adult forms that occur in Iowa. Male and female as well as top and bottom views are shown for most species. The distribution maps indicate in which of Iowa’s ninety-nine counties specimens have been collected; flight times for each species are shown by marking the date of collection for each verified specimen on a yearly calendar.
    The book ends with a checklist, collection information specific to the photographs, a glossary, references, and an index. The authors’ meticulous attention to detail, stimulating questions for students and researchers, concern for habitat preservation, and joyful appreciation of the natural world make it a valuable and inspiring volume.

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Caddo

Visions of a Southern Cypress Lake

Thad Sitton

In a stunning tribute to one of Texas’ most enigmatic waterways, a veteran East Texas historian and a professional photographer have together created an homage to a lake like no other—half Texas, half Louisiana, a swampy labyrinth of bald cypress and water plants filled with mystery, legend, and a staggering amount of biological complexity.

Classified as a Category 1 Habitat for wildlife by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and encompassing a state wildlife management area as well as a state park, Caddo Lake and adjacent areas have also been designated as a Ramsar Site under the international convention to preserve world-class wetlands and their waterfowl. In both words and pictures, writer Thad Sitton and photographer Carolyn Brown have captured the human, animal, and plant life of Caddo, as well as the history of the lake itself, better likened to an ever-changing network of cypress woodlands, bayou-like channels, water-plant meadows, and hardwood bottoms covered more or less by water.

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California

A Fire Survey

Stephen J. Pyne

The coastal sage and shrublands of California burn. The mountain-encrusting chaparral burns. The conifer forests of the Sierra Nevada, Cascades, and Trinity Alps burn.  The rain-shadowed deserts after watering by El Niño cloudbursts and the thick forests of the rumpled Coast Range—all burn according to local rhythms of wetting and drying. Fire season, so the saying goes, lasts 13 months.

In this collection of essays on the region, Stephen J. Pyne colorfully explores the ways the region has approached fire management and what sets it apart from other parts of the country. Pyne writes that what makes California’s fire scene unique is how its dramatically distinctive biomes have been yoked to a common system, ultimately committed to suppression, and how its fires burn with a character and on a scale commensurate with the state’s size and political power. California has not only a ferocity of flame but a cultural intensity that few places can match. California’s fires are instantly and hugely broadcast. They shape national institutions, and they have repeatedly defined the discourse of fire’s history. No other place has so sculpted the American way of fire.

California is part of the multivolume series describing the nation’s fire scene region by region. The volumes in To the Last Smoke also cover Florida, the Northern Rockies, the Great Plains, the Southwest, and several other critical fire regions. The series serves as an important punctuation point to Pyne’s fifty-year career with wildland fire—both as a firefighter and a fire scholar. These unique surveys of regional pyrogeography are Pyne’s way of “keeping with it to the end,” encompassing the directive from his rookie season to stay with every fire “to the last smoke.”

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Cape Cod

An Environmental History of a Fragile Ecosystem

John T. Cumbler

To many, Cape Cod represents the classic setting for an American summer vacation. Attracting seasonal tourists with picturesque beaches and abundant seafood, the Cape has held a place in our national imagination for almost two hundred years. People have been drawn to its beauty and resources since Native Americans wandered up its long sandy peninsula some 12,000 years ago, while writers such as Henry David Thoreau and Norman Mailer have celebrated its mystery and allure. But, despite its idealized image, Cape Cod has a long history of scarcity and an increasingly evident fragility. John T. Cumbler’s book offers an environmental, social, and economic history of Cape Cod told through the experiences of residents as well as visitors. He notes that over the past four hundred years the Cape has experienced three regimes of resource utilization. The first regime of Native Americans who lived relatively lightly on the land was supplanted by European settlers who focused on production and extraction. This second regime began in the age of sail but declined through the age of steam as the soil and seas failed to yield the resources necessary to sustain continuing growth. Environmental and then economic crises during the second half of the nineteenth century eventually gave way to the third regime of tourism and recreation. But this regime has its own environmental costs, as residents have learned over the last half century. Although the Cape remains a special place, its history of resource scarcity and its attempts to deal with that scarcity offer useful lessons for anyone addressing similar issues around the globe.

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A Case for Climate Engineering

David Keith

Climate engineering -- which could slow the pace of global warming by injecting reflective particles into the upper atmosphere -- has emerged in recent years as an extremely controversial technology. And for good reason: it carries unknown risks and it may undermine commitments to conserving energy. Some critics also view it as an immoral human breach of the natural world. The latter objection, David Keith argues in <I>A Scientist's Case for Climate Engineering</I>, is groundless; we have been using technology to alter our environment for years. But he agrees that there are large issues at stake. A leading scientist long concerned about climate change, Keith offers no naïve proposal for an easy fix to what is perhaps the most challenging question of our time; climate engineering is no silver bullet. But he argues that after decades during which very little progress has been made in reducing carbon emissions we must put this technology on the table and consider it responsibly. That doesn't mean we will deploy it, and it doesn't mean that we can abandon efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But we must understand fully what research needs to be done and how the technology might be designed and used. This book provides a clear and accessible overview of what the costs and risks might be, and how climate engineering might fit into a larger program for managing climate change.

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The Case of the Green Turtle

An Uncensored History of a Conservation Icon

Alison Rieser

The journals of early maritime explorers traversing the Atlantic Ocean often describe swarms of sea turtles, once a plentiful source of food. Many populations had been decimated by the 1950s, when Archie Carr and others raised public awareness of their plight. One species, the green turtle, has been the most heavily exploited due to international demand for turtle products, especially green turtle soup. The species has achieved some measure of recovery due to thirty years of conservation efforts, but remains endangered. In The Case of the Green Turtle, Alison Rieser provides an unparalleled look into the way science and conservation interact by focusing on the most controversial aspect of green turtle conservation—farming. While proponents argued that farming green sea turtles would help save them, opponents countered that it encouraged a taste for turtle flesh that would lead to the slaughter of wild stocks. The clash of these viewpoints once riveted the world. Rieser relies on her expertise in ocean ecology, policy, and law to reveal how the efforts to preserve sea turtles changed marine conservation and the way we view our role in the environment. Her study of this early conservation controversy will fascinate anyone who cares about sea turtles or the oceans in which they live.

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Cash For Your Trash

Scrap Recycling in America

Carl A. Zimring

In Cash for Your Trash, Carl A. Zimring provides a fascinating history of scrap recycling, from colonial times to the present. Integrating findings from archival, industrial, and demographic records, and moving beyond the environmental developments that have shaped modern recycling enterprises, Zimring offers a unique cultural and economic portrait of the private businesses that made large-scale recycling possible.

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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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Cattle Bring Us to Our Enemies

Turkana Ecology, Politics, and Raiding in a Disequilibrium System

J. Terrence McCabe

An in-depth look at the ecology, history, and politics of land use among the Turkana pastoral people in Northern Kenya Based on sixteen years of fieldwork among the pastoral Turkana people, McCabe examines how individuals use the land and make decisions about mobility, livestock, and the use of natural resources in an environment characterized by aridity, unpredictability, insecurity, and violence. The Turkana are one of the world's most mobile peoples, but understanding why and how they move is a complex task influenced by politics, violence, historical relations among ethnic groups, and the government, as well as by the arid land they call home. As one of the original members of the South Turkana Ecosystem Project, McCabe draws on a wealth of ecological data in his analysis. His long-standing relationship with four Turkana families personalize his insights and conclusions, inviting readers into the lives of these individuals, their families, and the way they cope with their environment and political events in daily life. J. Terrence McCabe is Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Colorado at Boulder.

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