The Southwest: A Fire Survey

The Southwest: A Fire Survey

by Stephen J. Pyne


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With its scattered mountains and high rims, its dry air and summer lightning, its rising tier of biomes from desert grasses to alpine conifers, and its aggressive exurban sprawl, something in the Southwest is ready to burn each year and some high-value assets seem ever in their path. But the past 20 years have witnessed an uptake in savagery, as routine surface burns have mutated into megafires and overrun nearly a quarter of the region’s forests. What happened, and what does it mean for the rest of the country?

Through a mixture of journalism, history, and literary imagination, fire expert Stephen J. Pyne provides a lively survey of what makes this region distinctive, moving us beyond the usual conversations of science and policy. Pyne explores the Southwest’s sacred mountains, including the Jemez, Mogollon, Huachucas, and Kaibab; its sky islands, among them the Chiricahuas, Mount Graham, and Tanque Verde; and its famous rims and borders. Together, the essays provide a cross-section of how landscape fire looks in the early years of the 21st century, what is being done to manage it, and how fire connects with other themes of southwestern life and culture.

The Southwest is part of the multivolume series describing the nation’s fire scene region by region. The volumes in To the Last Smoke also cover California, the Northern Rockies, the Great Plains, Florida, and several other critical fire regions. The series serves as an important punctuation point to Pyne’s 50-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.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780816532483
Publisher: University of Arizona Press
Publication date: 09/13/2016
Series: To the Last Smoke Series
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 1,191,153
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Stephen J. Pyne is a historian in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University. He is the author of more than 25 books, including The Ice: A Journey to Antarctica, How the Canyon Became Grand: A Short History, and Voyager: Exploration, Space, and the Third Great Age of Discovery. He is also the author of Between Two Fires: A Fire History of Contemporary America, published by the University of Arizona Press.

Table of Contents

Series Preface: To the Last Smoke ix

Preface to Volume 4 xi

Map of the Southwest 2

Prologue: Cycles of Fire 3

Sacred Mountains 11

The Jemez: Genesis Effect 13

The Mogollons: After the West Was Won 22

The Huachucas: Fire's Borderlands 34

The Kaibab: Friendly Fire 42

Sky Islands 65

Rhymes with Chiricahua 67

Top-Down Ecology: Mount Graham 83

The View from Tanque Verde 96

Borders and Rims 109

Reinventing a Fire Commons 111

Thinking Like a Burnt Mountain 121

Rising from the Ashes 126

Under the Tonto Rim 130

Squaring the Triangle: Fire at San Carlos 143

A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Crew in Yarnell 159

Epilogue: The Southwest Between Two Fires 166

Note on Sources 175

Notes 177

Index 189

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