Rancher, farmer, fisherman Conservation heroes of the American heartland

Miriam Horn

Book - 2016

Traces the conservation movement by ranchers, farmers, river workers, and fishermen who in spite of separating themselves from political environmentalism are helping to restore and protect America's grasslands, wildlife, wetlands, and oceans.

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New York, NY : W.W. Norton & Company, Inc [2016]
First edition
Physical Description
xviii, 394 pages : map, illustrations ; 25 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 299-366) and index.
Main Author
Miriam Horn (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* In the midst of heated discussions about climate change and global warming, Horn (Earth, the Sequel, 2008) takes a straightforward approach to the topic of conservation by focusing on five different individuals from "the American Heartland": a Montana rancher, Kansas farmer, Mississippi river man, Louisiana shrimper, and Gulf of Mexico fisherman. In long profiles, she provides detailed looks at how her subjects live and the interesting, even revolutionary ways in which they have chosen to approach conservation issues. Each lives and works closely with the land or water beneath his or her feet, and each is deeply committed to preserving the ecosystems near his or her home. Refreshingly, in what could have been an extremely political title, Horn and her subjects go out of their way to illustrate how it is only through taking an apolitical and far-reaching view of environmental issues that true success can be found. This broadens the book's appeal considerably as these Americans candidly discuss their positive work, moving past political differences to concrete solutions. Hopeful and educational, Horn's chronicle will educate many readers on how to work together in their hometowns, making this a great choice for nature-minded book groups. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

In this penetrating book, Horn (Earth: The Sequel) explores the lives and philosophies of five unlikely conservationists: a Montana rancher, a Kansas farmer, a Mississippi riverman, a Louisiana shrimper, and a Gulf fisherman. The Mississippi River watershed—the "immense funnel" that drains more than 40 percent of the continental United States—forms the backdrop of the volume, and readers will learn about the area firsthand from those for whom it's a "working landscape." Although their issues differ, the men and women portrayed share a deep knowledge about their places, a few having family connections going back generations. Horn takes a nuanced look at their environmentalism, noting how they eschew "ideological trenches"; how they strive toward a large, inclusive vision that balances long-term ecological values with immediate economic ones; and how they comprehend the interconnectedness of things, such as how the Kansas farmer's decisions about crop fertilization could impact the fisherman's harvest thousands of miles downstream. Horn's prose flows with the river north to south, neatly reinforcing a recurrent theme of working with nature, not against it. VERDICT For those with a special interest in environmental issues, this is an essential read; for more general readers, the trip down Ol' Muddy promises a fascinating itinerary.—Robert Eagan, Windsor P.L., Ont. [Page 94]. (c) Copyright 2016 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Horn (Earth: The Sequel, cowritten with Fred Krupp), a former journalist now at the helm of the clean-energy program at Environmental Defense Fund, shines a light on "conservation heroes" who are leading ambitious environmental initiatives in their communities and beyond. Human activities, such as the overharvesting of fish and the overtilling of fertile soil, continue to compromise the biodiversity of landscapes around the world; to balance the scales, Horn offers redemptive portraits of five stewards of the American heartland whose daily work "has itself become the path to restoration." Unlike the policy makers who remain distant from the practical effects of their policies, these five—a Montana rancher, a Kansas farmer, a Mississippi riverman, a Louisiana shrimper, and a Gulf of Mexico fisherman—are "real Americans" whose "livelihoods and communities will live or die within these ecosystems." Motivated by deep allegiances to the places they live, as well as an understanding of the "irreducible interdependency" between humans and nature, these individuals are taking radical steps toward sustainability: one restores soils depleted through industrial-scale farming methods, and another advocates for fishing regulations that will support the long-term regrowth of threatened red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico. Horn's intimate profiles reveal undervalued environmental change makers while countering popular notions of what it means to be a conservationist. (Sept.) [Page ]. Copyright 2016 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Traces the conservation movement by ranchers, farmers, river workers, and fishermen who in spite of separating themselves from political environmentalism are helping to restore and protect America's grasslands, wildlife, wetlands, and oceans.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Traces the lesser-known, large-scale conservation movement by ranchers, farmers, river workers and fishermen who in spite of separating themselves from political environmentalism are helping to restore and protect America's grasslands, wildlife, wetlands and oceans. By the best-selling author of Earth: The Sequel.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Horn spotlights five people--stewards of the earth--including a Montana cowboy who brings together a band of longtime enemies to protect the epic ranches and untamed wilderness they all love. On the Kansas prairie a man is using “industrial-scale” farming to restore depleted soils cultivated by his family since homestead days. On the Mississippi a scion of an old aristocratic Southern family has joined an ambitious effort to reestablish the river’s natural land-building functions to protect mariners and New Orleans. On the Louisiana bayou, a woman is building alliances to rescue the estuary that harbor the ship and oysters and crabs her community relies on. In the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, beyond the river’s mouth, a commercial fisherman is tangling with fisheries regulators to bring back red snapper and keep his and his buddies’ small business afloat. The Mississippi River watershed is the third largest in the world behind only the Amazon and Congo. The connectivity provided by its thousands of miles of waterways--linking the heartland to the rest of the nation and the world--has been critical to America’s rise and reign as a global economic power. Reaching from the Rockies to the Appalachians and draining 40 percent of the continental U.S., it is central to the American story thanks to Thomas Jefferson. This basin holds most of the nation’s natural wealth and produces most of its mineral and food. This country depends on these grand working landscapes and they, in turn, depend on a small number of people--the families who live by harvesting their bounty. Farmers and ranchers make up just 1 percent of the U.S. population but manage two-thirds of the nation’s land; agriculture has greater impacts on water, land and terrestrial biodiversity than any other human enterprise. F Annotation ©2016 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (protoview.com)

Review by Publisher Summary 4

The story of a huge, largely hidden, and entirely unexpected conservation movement in America.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

Many of the men and women doing today’s most consequential environmental work—restoring America’s grasslands, wildlife, soil, rivers, wetlands, and oceans—would not call themselves environmentalists; they would be too uneasy with the connotations of that word. What drives them is their deep love of the land: the iconic terrain where explorers and cowboys, pioneers and riverboat captains forged the American identity. They feel a moral responsibility to preserve this heritage and natural wealth, to ensure that their families and communities will continue to thrive.Rancher, Farmer, FishermanRancher, Farmer, FishermanKirkus Reviews