Tuesday, January 31, 2012
New and Recent Titles
1) Crane, Jeff. Finding the River: An Environmental History of the Elwha. 2011. OSU Press. Paperback: 250 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: In 1992 landmark federal legislation called for the removal of two dams from the Elwha River to restore salmon runs. Jeff Crane dives into the debate over development and ecological preservation in Finding the River, presenting a long-term environmental and human history of the river as well as a unique look at river reconstruction.
Finding the River examines the ways that different communities—from the Lower Elwha Klallam Indians to current-day residents—have used the river and its resources, giving close attention to the harnessing of the Elwha for hydroelectric production and the resulting decline of its fisheries. Crane describes efforts begun in the 1980s to remove the dams and restore the salmon. He explores the rise of a river restoration movement in the late twentieth century and the roles that free-flowing rivers could play in preserving salmon as climate change presents another set of threats to these endangered fish.
A significant and timely contribution to American Western and environmental history—removal of the two Elwha River dams began in September 2011—Finding the River will be of interest to historians, environmentalists, and fisheries biologists, as well as to general readers interested in the Puget Sound, the Olympic Peninsula, and environmental issues.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in river restoration projects and/or Olympic Peninsula history.
2) Kimmerer, Robin Wall. Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses. 2003. OSU Press. Paperback: 168 pages. Price: $18.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: Winner of the 2005 John Burroughs Medal Award for Natural History Writing
Living at the limits of our ordinary perception, mosses are a common but largely unnoticed element of the natural world. Gathering Moss is a beautifully written mix of science and personal reflection that invites readers to explore and learn from the elegantly simple lives of mosses.
In this series of linked personal essays, Robin Wall Kimmerer leads general readers and scientists alike to an understanding of how mosses live and how their lives are intertwined with the lives of countless other beings. Kimmerer explains the biology of mosses clearly and artfully, while at the same time reflecting on what these fascinating organisms have to teach us.
Drawing on her diverse experiences as a scientist, mother, teacher, and writer of Native American heritage, Kimmerer explains the stories of mosses in scientific terms as well as in the framework of indigenous ways of knowing. In her book, the natural history and cultural relationships of mosses become a powerful metaphor for ways of living in the world.
RECOMMENDATION: Most people only think of moss as something you get rid of. That should change after reading this book.
3) Li, Judith L. and Michael T. Barbour (editors). Wading for Bugs: Exploring Streams with the Experts. 2011. OSU Press. Paperback: 160 pages. Price: $19.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: In Wading for Bugs, nearly two dozen aquatic biologists share their memorable encounters with stream insects. The contributors, based primarily in North America, work in diverse environments – from arctic to desert, from mountain streams to river valleys. They represent a wide range of expertise as authors of standard field texts, leaders in biomonitoring and assessment programs, directors of major laboratories, and specialists in aquatic ecology and taxonomy.
The writings in Wading for Bugs allow readers to experience – through the eyes of the scientists – what it’s like to study stream insects and to make discoveries that could help develop biological indicators for stream health. General summaries introduce each insect order. Elegant insect drawings accompany each story, along with morphological, life history, and habitat information for each species or family.
Wading for Bugs will appeal to general readers as well as students, naturalists, and outdoor enthusiasts curious about streams and the insects that live in them.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in aquatic entomology.