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Forest Dreams, Forest Nightmares: The…
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Forest Dreams, Forest Nightmares: The Paradox of Old Growth in the Inland… (edition 1996)

by Nancy Langston, William Cronon (Foreword)

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Member:kucher
Title:Forest Dreams, Forest Nightmares: The Paradox of Old Growth in the Inland West (Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books)
Authors:Nancy Langston
Other authors:William Cronon (Foreword)
Info:University of Washington Press (1996), Paperback, 380 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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Forest Dreams, Forest Nightmares: The Paradox of Old Growth in the Inland West by Nancy Langston

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This book is an eloquent case study about the management of the Blue Mountains in eastern Oregon. Langston interweaves ecology and history, practice and theory, management and science to discuss how and why the forests of this region have transformed in the wakeof European settlement. She uses archival materials, such as the journals of Lewis and Clark, government documents, scientific research articles, interviews, and more to describe the area's ecology; land use history, including Native American traditions, fur trapping, logging, grazing, farming, burning and fire suppression; the origins, ideals, and practices of the Forest Service; the cultural assumptions behind all of these practices; and the potential for ecological restoration. An illustrative quotation from the closing chapter: "All attempts to manage are attempts to tell a story about how the land ought to be, and by definition, all these stories are simpler than the world itself." It's an engaging and thought-provoking read. Traditional ecological restorationists may dispute her arguments that it is neither possible nor reasonable to attempt to restore an ecosystem to a specific historical condition and that all visions of the land are products of human desire and intervention. However, they will likely support the proposal to "figure out some way of working with dry lands and dry forests by forming close connections to a place but also being willing to adapt to the character of the place." And one side note: I can't help being amused every time that this is a Weyerhauser Environmental Book. ( )
  justchris | Jan 21, 2009 |
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Across the inland West, forests that once seemed like paradise have turned into an ecological nightmare. Fires, insect epidemics, and disease now threaten millions of acres of once-bountiful forests. Yet no one can agree what went wrong. Was it too much management - or not enough - that forced the forests of the inland West to the verge of collapse? Is the solution more logging, or no logging at all? In this gripping work of scientific and historical detection, Nancy Langston unravels the disturbing history of what went wrong with the western forests, despite the best intentions of those involved. Focusing on the Blue Mountains of northeastern Oregon and southeastern Washington, she explores how the complex landscapes that so impressed settlers in the nineteenth century became an ecological disaster in the late twentieth. Federal foresters, intent on using their scientific training to stop exploitation and waste, suppressed light fires in the ponderosa pinelands. Hoping to save the forests, they could not foresee that their policies would instead destroy what they loved. When light fires were kept out, a series of ecological changes began. Firs grew thickly in forests once dominated by ponderosa pines, and when droughts hit, those firs succumbed to insects, diseases, and eventually catastrophic fires.… (more)

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