The Northeast: A Fire Survey

The Northeast: A Fire Survey

by Stephen J. Pyne


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Repeatedly, if paradoxically, the Northeast has led national developments in fire. Its intellectuals argued for model preserves in the Adirondacks and at Yellowstone, oversaw the first mapping of the American fire scene for the 1880 census, staffed the 1896 National Academy of Sciences forest commission that laid down guidelines for the national forests, and spearheaded legislation that allowed those reserves to expand by purchase. It trained the leaders who staffed those protected areas and produced most of America’s first environmentalists.

The Northeast has its roster of great fires, beginning with dark days in the late 18th century, followed by a chronicle of conflagrations continuing as late as 1903 and 1908, with a shocking after-tremor in 1947. It hosted the nation’s first forestry schools. It organized the first interstate (and international) fire compact. And it was the Northeast that pioneered the transition to the true Big Burn—industrial combustion—as America went from burning living landscapes to burning lithic ones.

In this new book in the To the Last Smoke series, renowned fire expert Stephen J. Pyne narrates this history and explains how fire is returning to a place not usually thought of in America’s fire scene. He examines what changes in climate and land use mean for wildfire, what fire ecology means for cultural landscapes, and what experiments are underway to reintroduce fire to habitats that need it. The region’s great fires have gone; its influence on the national scene has not.
The Northeast: A Fire Survey samples the historic and contemporary significance of the region and explains how it fits into a national cartography and narrative of fire.

Included in this volume:
How the region shaped America’s understanding of and policy toward fire
How fire fits into the region today
What fire in the region means for the rest of the country
What changes in climate, land use, and institutions may mean for the region

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780816538904
Publisher: University of Arizona Press
Publication date: 04/09/2019
Series: To the Last Smoke Series
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 614,172
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.10(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 7 xi

Prologue: Dark Days 3

A Song of Ice and Fire-and ICE 9

Where the Past Is the Key to the Present 23

Fire's Keystone State 32

Bog and Burn: The New Jersey Pinelands 60

Fire on the Mountain 89

Albany Pine Bush 105

Where You Find It: Staten Island 113

The Forest as Garden: Charles Sprague Sargent 117

Pitch Pine and Least Tern 125

The WUI Within 133

The View from Bill Patterson's Study 139

Maine's Epicycles of Fire 147

Collective Security: The Northeast Forest Fire Protection Compact 163

Westward, the Course of Empire 170

Epilogue: The Northeast between Two Fires 183

Note on Sources 189

Notes 191

Index 207


Environmental historians and land and resource managers.

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