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A Natural History of the Escalante Canyons
Thomas Lowe Fleischner
Utah / Nature and Environment
Integrating personal narrative and natural history, Fleischner presents what he calls a "guide to understanding" the relatively unknown landscape of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
Like a bright blue seam incised deep in solid rock, the Escalante River binds the fir forests of Utah’s High Plateau with the barren deserts of the canyonlands region in the newly designed Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. To this wild landscape, naturalist Thomas Fleischner brings both emotional engagement and a wealth of knowledge. With unabashed passion and patient and learned observations Fleischner presents this relatively unknown landscape.
Singing Stone is ideal for curious visitors to the national monument as well as students of environmental studies. Fleischner’s background as a conservation biologist and former park ranger, a professor of environmental studies, and a naturalist in the Escalante Region for almost twenty years has provided him with a deep reservoir of experience and knowledge.
The book’s first three chapters survey the unique geology, flora and fauna, and human history of the region. Chapters four and five trace the more recent impacts of human activities—grazing and wilderness recreation—and explore the shifts in cultural values and public policy that have occurred as a result. Examining these topics in the context of a specific landscape offers a lens through which these changes, now the topic of examination and controversy throughout the New West, can be clearly seen and, hopefully, re-evaluated.
Thomas Lowe Fleischner’s articles and essays on topics pertinent to western ecology have been widely published in journals such as Conservation Biology and in books including The Encyclopedia of Ecology and Environmental Management.
Table of Contents:
Prologue: From the Oxbow
1. The Terrain of Delight
Tales of Deep Time
The Soul of Stone
Unwarping and Downcutting
The Work of a River
2. The Texture of Life
The Grace of Animals
The Green Gift
Mapping Life How Snakes Kiss
3. Walking Upright
With Blade of Chert
Here Comes Europe
In the Promised Land
"More Beauty Than I Can Bear"
4. Home on the Range?
A Reluctant Path Toward Policy
Meanwhile, Back at the Fence
5. Hungry for Fun
The Concrete Curtain
The Governor in the Gym
The Fun Boom
Epilogue: The Evening Light Can Be Touched
Taxonomy of Species Mentioned in Text
Praise and Reviews:
"His book is not only informative and entertaining, but offers a lens through which we can examine the future of this region of Utah."
"Fleischner's book on the Escalante Canyons may have been produced by a conservation biologist, but it is written from the gut.... baiting our appetites for wilderness—and wildness—by offering us tastes of an extraordinary place.... Scientists, aesthetes, and red rock desert rats alike, rejoice! Singing Stone is both history and science, as well as an intimate encounter with a wild desert land."
—Wild Earth magazine
"The reader is swiftly snapped to attention, engaged by clear, passionate writing. Fleischner guides readers on a celebration of this region's enigmas, while informing on a breadth of topics comprising the landscapes complexity."
—Colorado Plateau Advocate, magazine of the Grand Canyon Trust
"Reading this book is like taking a tour with an expert guide."
"This book is a good source of the history of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the changes it has seen over the centuries. It is structured not as a reference book, but as a guide to be read in a leisurely fashion, cover-to-cover. Fleischner does a wonderful job illustrating the delicate balance between nature and culture."
"Well-organized, beautifully written, and thoroughly documented."
"Value-laden, sincere, and close to the ground."
—The Daily Courier, Prescott, Arizona