6 new books for nature lovers

  • Fri Apr 27th, 2012 5:07pm
  • Life

By Sharon Wootton Herald Columnist

It’s always a pleasure to pick up a book or field guide pamphlet created by Rick Harbo.

The writer/photographer and Harbour Publishing have that knack of packaging information, photographs and graphics in a way that keeps the pages turning.

The biologist’s latest is the revised edition of “Whelks to Whales: Coastal Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest” ($26), which stands first in line when it comes to coastal marine life. Its success is, in part, because the text is clear without being dumbed down.

Creatures large and small are here, about 480 species including 60 new to this edition, grouped in color-coded sections with a glossary and suggested reading.

The pages are slick, which allows taking it to the beach with a chance of returning without water marks.

Reading a small section at a time is a good way to prepare you for the next tidepool outing.

If you want to ramble, contemplate, bike or watch birds in the Portland-Vancouver area, nothing works better as a guide than “Wild in the City: Exploring the Intertwine, the Portland-Vancouver Region’s Network of Parks, Trails and Natural Areas” ($25).

It’s more than a where-to-go guide. In the Columbia Slough Watershed, for instance, there’s history; a paddle trip; pieces on otters, tracking mammals, urban coyotes and freshwater mussels; and two nature parks, a golf course and a wetlands natural area.

Dozens of writers are involved, from local naturalist to writers such as Ursula K. LeGuin and Robert Michael Pyle. Easy to understand maps and sidebars are included.

The second edition includes new maps and 28 more rambles.

Closer to home, “Finding the River: An Environmental History of the Elwha” ($25) is written by Oak Harbor-born Jeff Crane, who has hiked the trails along the Elwha River.

The two aging dams on the Elwha began to come down last fall. Crane’s timely book traces the environmental issues around building and tearing down the impediments to wild salmon.

It’s a story of salmon’s place in Western Washington, and the conflicting cultures and groups that have used, discounted, protected and now are restoring the free-flowing river.

Three well-illustrated children’s books introduce young ones to organic gardening, tending your own garden, and forest animals.

“Jo MacDonald Had a Garden” (ages 3 to 8) is set to the tune of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm,” the sing-and-learn approach to story-telling.

“Molly’s Organic Farm” (ages 4 to 10) is based on the true story of a homeless cat, and smoothly incorporates concepts such as composting, companion plants, rotating crops and farmers markets.

“Over in the Forest: Come and Take a Peek” (ages 3 to 8) focuses, in rhyme, on very young animals. It includes numbers as well as unfamiliar names such as joeys, hatchlings, poults and kits, It also has seven pages at the end that help adults reading the story to expand on the science.

Don’t play with matches: National Wildfire Awareness Week (May 6 to 12) is a chance to reassess how we deal with campfires. In the past four years, nearly 700 wildfires were caused by campers leaving fire pits smoldering and unattended, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.

DNR is the state’s largest on-call fire department, with more than 1,000 employees trained and available to be dispatched to fires. During fire season, this includes more than 700 DNR employees who have other permanent jobs with the agency.

Let’s make 2012 the year they had little to do.

All the marbles: A long-term conversation strategy is being developed for the future of marbled murrelets by the state Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Informational meetings are being held to explain the proposals and to hear opinions. The meeting closest to Snohomish County is at from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, at the Northwest Regional Office, 919 N. Township St., Sedro-Woolley.

Columnist Sharon Wootton can be reached at 360-468-3964 or www.songandword.com.