As climate change encroaches, animals and plants around the globe are having their habitats pulled out from under them. At the same time, human development has made islands out of even our largest nature reserves, stranding the biodiversity that lives within them. The Spine of the Continent introduces readers to the most ambitious conservation effort ever undertaken: to create linked protected areas extending from the Yukon to Mexico, the entire length of North America. This movement is the brainchild of Michael Soule, the founder of conservation biology and the peer of E.O. Wilson and Paul Ehrlich, who endorse his effort as necessary to saving nature on our continent. With blue-ribbon scientific foundations, the Spine is yet a grassroots, cooperative effort among conservation activists – NGOs large and small — and regular citizens.
The Spine of the Continent is not only about making physical connections so that nature will persist; it is about making connections between people and the land we call home. In this fascinating, exciting, and important book, Mary Ellen Hannibal travels the length of the Spine, sharing stories and anecdotes about the passionate, idiosyncratic people she meets along the way – and the critters they love.
About Mary Ellen Hannibal
Mary Ellen Hannibal’s most recent book is Evidence of Evolution. She has written for many publications, including The San Francisco Chronicle, Esquire, and Elle magazines, and extensively for environmental nonprofits. She is a 2011 Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellow and lives in the California Bay Area.
The concept, pioneered by conservation biologist Michael Soulé, has been picked up by many others over the years, as a long-term way to help preserve wildlife and plant life in the West. Its ultimate goal was to unite discrete areas of publicly and privately owned wilderness to create one huge nature preserve stretching from Alaska to Mexico. In the first third of the book, Hannibal focuses on the history of conservation biology. The last two-thirds spotlight some of the many small organizations and researchers that are contributing to the larger vision, including projects focusing specifically on beavers, jaguars and wolves, among others. Throughout, Hannibal repeats the idea that everything in an ecosystem is connected. It’s a seemingly simple concept, well-backed by research, and the author discusses how, in the long run, working for the preservation of even a single species links directly to larger issues such as climate change. Because Hannibal writes in a casual first-person voice, the narrative is occasionally haphazard, as she delves into the history of the beaver-pelt trade in America in one section and explores Soulé’s life-changing experience with Zen Buddhism in another. It has its share of odd moments, as when Hannibal compares beaver ponds to the concept of romanticism, or when she asks a scientist who experimented on temperature-intolerant pikas in the 1970s, “How could you fry those bunnies?” The author doesn’t fully explore the opinions of anyone who might oppose the Spine plan, but the book works well as an introduction to modern conservationist figures and concepts for casual readers. – Kirkus Reviews
The Spine of the Continent - The Most Ambitious Wildlife Conservation Project Ever Undertaken By Mary Ellen Hannibal
The San Francisco Chronicle Book Review – October 15, 2012 (Excerpt)
Few California urbanites have yet to hear of the extraordinary project Mary Ellen Hannibal describes in “The Spine of the Continent,” her enthusiastic, anecdotal, on-the-scenes account of a bold concept for protecting much of this continent’s remaining animal life.
The project envisions a chain of interconnected wildlife preserves extending 5,000 miles from Alaska’s Brooks Range all the way south into northern Mexico, encompassing wild lands to be set aside in at least three Canadian provinces, seven American states, with still others in northern Mexico. Some, but by no means all, are somewhat protected now in national and state parks.
And the wildlife there? The so-called Spine is indeed alive:
Grizzly bears to the north, jaguars to the south, and the habitats of caribou, elk, beaver, fox, mink, coyote and more – all now in trouble where they remain and all to be protected by this initiative. The Bay Area writer seems to have seen them all during her many journeys into the wilderness with their fierce human protectors. [Read the full article...]
THE BLEEDING HILLS
A Novel by Wilfried F. Voss
I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith.
- 2 Timothy iv. 7
The Irish War is officially a part of history, but not for Finnean Whelan, an IRA veteran of almost 40 years. British Intelligence has produced evidence that he is the mastermind behind a conspiracy to assassinate the First Minister of Northern Ireland. For Whelan this is not only a mission of revenge, but marks the beginning of a journey into the past and the return to the one true love: Ireland. [More...]
The Bleeding Hills is available at Amazon.Com, Amazon.co.uk, Barnes & Noble, and any other good bookstore.