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A troubling story of the devastating and compounding effects of climate change in the Western and Rocky Mountain states, told through in-depth reportage and conversations with ecologists, professional forest managers, park service scientists, burn bosses, activists, and more.
Climate change manifests in many ways across America, but few as dramatic as the attacks on our western pine forests. In Trees in Trouble, Daniel Mathews tells the urgent story of this loss, accompanying burn crews and forest ecologists as they study the myriad risk factors and refine techniques for improving forest health and saving this important, limited resource.
Mathews transports the reader from the exquisitely aromatic haze of ponderosa and Jeffrey pine groves to the fantastic gnarls and whorls of five-thousand-year-old bristlecone pines, from genetic test nurseries where white pine seedlings are deliberately infected with their mortal enemy to the desertlike expanses at the heart of the hottest megafire sites and neighborhoods leveled by fire tornadoes or ember blizzards.
Highly personal and scrupulously researched, Trees in Trouble explores not only the compounding effects of climate change, but also introduces us to the people devoting their lives to saving our forests. Mathews also offers hope: A new approach to managing western pine forests is underway. But in order for our forests to adapt, this approach needs a wider understanding and bipartisan political support. Trees in Trouble explores how we might succeed in sustaining our forests through the challenging transition to a new environment.
Daniel Mathews is the author of Natural History of the Pacific Northwest Mountains, Rocky Mountain Natural History, and Cascade-Olympic Natural History. During a career of learning and writing about the natural history of western North America, he has backpacked far and wide, watched for fires from Desolation Peak Lookout, watched a forty-foot fir crash onto his family's house in a storm, and lived for years in a forest cabin without electricity, heating with firewood and writing by kerosene lamp. He lives in Portland, Oregon.