Its monumental rocks, etched by glaciers during the last Ice Age, have made Yosemite National Park a crown jewel of the national park system and a world-celebrated destination. Yet, more and more, fire rather than ice is shaping this storied landscape.
In the last decade, fire has blasted into public attention. California's blazes have captured national and global media interest with their drama and urgency. Expand the realm of fire to include the burning of fossil fuels, and the fire story also subsumes climate change. Renowned fire historian Stephen J. Pyne argues that the relationship between fire and humans has become a defining feature of our epoch, and he reveals how Yosemite offers a cameo of how we have replaced an ice age with a fire age: the Pyrocene.
Organized around a backcountry trek to a 50-year experiment in restoring fire, Pyrocene Park describes the 150-year history of fire suppression and management that has led us, in part, to where the park is today. But there is more. Yosemite's fire story is America's, and the Earth's, as it shifts from an ice-informed world to a fire-informed one. Pyrocene Park distills that epic story into a sharp miniature.
Flush with people, ideas, fires, and controversy, Pyrocene Park is a compelling and accessible window into the American fire scene and the future it promises.
"You've seen Yosemite before, but not like this. In Pyne's latest book, Muir's glaciers take the backseat to the flames, and to our heroic but often schizoid efforts to manage their force, from the time of the U.S. cavalry to today's climate-focused professionals. A bracing and swift story well told by the master of wildfire history."
– Ben A. Minteer, author of The Fall of the Wild: Extinction, De-Extinction, and the Ethics of Conservation
"With Pyrocene Park, Stephen Pyne fills in an important and missing piece of the puzzle regarding wildfire management in one of America's premiere national parks. The narrative unfolds in a way that is accessible to anyone interested in the history of the national parks and the fires that burn within them. It was immensely enjoyable to be along with the author and his small band of companions as they journeyed into this storied landscape."
– Stephen Fillmore, editor of Fire on the Land: A Retrospective Anthology of Selected Papers from the Archives of the Society of American Foresters