Thursday, July 15, 2010

Read: "Nature Noir" by Jordan Fisher Smith

Read: Nature Noir: a park ranger's patrol in the Sierra by Jordan Fisher Smith, 2006, 9780618711956.

Great writing by Smith covering nature, politics of conservation vs. development, man vs. wild, man reintroduced to wild, and rural crime.

Smith was a summertime park ranger for several years while bopping around during winters as ski guy or other outdoor work. After a few years Smith applied and was hired as a state ranger in Northern CA along the American River.

Smith got into the work because he loved the outdoors. He then discovered that the jerks and crooks in urban life bring that same behavior into the wild. Smith got himself educated and trained as a cop - he became his stations defensive tactics instructor - and continued in the work where others dropped out after realizing they needed to be cops as much as nature guides.

Smith covers a couple stories from his time covering a presumed murdered woman of a local deputy, a drowning victim's mourning family, politics over gold prospectors, politics over building a damn across the American, rural crime of local lowlifes visiting or squatting in park's land.

His stories are not so much about man versus nature but, instead, are more of man reintroduced to nature. The story of the jogger killed by a mountain lion is a great example. Mountain lion habitats are shrinking while the suburbs are growing outward. Lion attacks are rare but draw BIG press and fear.

Smith had a neat comment on newly built and the very isolated houses out in the mountains. Remote homes like that are not new but this is the first time ever that the owners are not self-sufficient. Instead, everything is resupplied from the nearest town and supermarket.

Smith is well educated about parks and the land he worked and his knowledge includes a great historical perspective.

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