America is not simply a federation of states but a confederation of regions. Some have always held national attention, some just for a time. Slopovers examines three regions that once dominated the national narrative and may now be returning to prominence.
The Mid-American oak woodlands were the scene of vigorous settlement in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and thus the scene of changing fire practices. The debate over the origin of the prairiesby climate or fireforeshadowed the more recent debate about fire in oak and hickory hardwoods. In both cases, today’s thinking points to the critical role of fire.
The Pacific Northwest was the great pivot between laissez-faire logging and state-sponsored conservation and the fires that would accompany each. Then fire faded as an environmental issue. But it has returned over the past decade like an avenging angel, forcing the region to again consider the defining dialectic between axe and flame.
And AlaskaAlaska is different, as everyone says. It came late to wildland fire protection, then managed an extraordinary transfiguration into the most successful American region to restore something like the historic fire regime. But Alaska is also a petrostate, and climate change may be making it the vanguard of what the Anthropocene will mean for American fire overall.
Slopovers collates surveys of these three regions into the national narrative. With a unique mixture of journalism, history, and literary imagination, renowned fire expert Stephen J. Pyne shows how culture and nature, fire from nature and fire from people, interact to shape our world with three case studies in public policy and the challenging questions they pose about the future we will share with fire.
About the Author
Stephen J. Pyne is Regents’ Professor in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University. He is the author of more than 30 books, mostly on wildland fire and its history but also dealing with the history of places and exploration, including The Ice, How the Canyon Became Grand, and Voyager. Most recently, he has surveyed the American fire scene in Between Two Fires: A Fire History of Contemporary America and a suite of regional reconnaissances, To the Last Smoke, all published by the University of Arizona Press.
Table of Contents
Series Preface: To the Last Smoke ix
Preface to Volume 8 xi
The Mid-American Oak Woodlands: A Fire Survey
Author's Note: Oak Woodlands 5
Prologue: East of the 100th Meridian 6
The Long Hunt 9
A Dark and Burning Ground 20
Unchanged Past: Stones River National Battlefield 32
Uncertain Future: Land Between the Lakes 35
Unsettled Present: Nature Conservation 40
Missouri Compromise 49
Epilogue: The Oak Woodlands Between Two Fires 61
Note on Sources 64
The Pacific Northwest: A Fire Survey
Author's Note: Pacific Northwest 67
Prologue: Green on Black 69
Fire and Axe: The First and Second Timber Wars 72
Grace Under Fire: The Willamette Valley 84
Crossing the Klamath 97
Restoration Sings the Blues 113
An Ecological and Silvicultural Tool: Harold Weaver 123
Epilogue: The Pacific Northwest Between Two Fires 131
Note on Sources 138
Alaska: A Fire Survey
Author's Note: Alaska 141
Prologue: Last Frontier, Lost Frontier 142
The Alaskan Persuasion 150
Pyropolitics, Alaska Style 158
The Alaska Fire Service 176
Last Frontier of the U.S. Forest Service 182
Live-Fire Zone 187
Sparks OF Imagination 190
In The Black 195
North to The Future: Pleistocene to Pyrocene 207
Epilogue: Alaska Between Two Fires 212
Note ON Sources 217
Illustrations follow page 92