Slopovers: Fire Surveys of the Mid-American Oak Woodlands, Pacific Northwest, and Alaska

Slopovers: Fire Surveys of the Mid-American Oak Woodlands, Pacific Northwest, and Alaska

by Stephen J. Pyne


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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 prairies—by climate or fire—foreshadowed 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 Alaska—Alaska 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780816538799
Publisher: University of Arizona Press
Publication date: 04/02/2019
Series: To the Last Smoke Series
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 780,520
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)

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

Kenai 200

North to The Future: Pleistocene to Pyrocene 207

Epilogue: Alaska Between Two Fires 212

Note ON Sources 217

Notes 219

Index 237

Illustrations follow page 92

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