One might wonder why a field guide to old-growth forests is even necessary. After all, can't you just drive around the Pacific Northwest and get your fill of the big trees? Well, unfortunately, it's not that easy. With ancient forests in the region reduced to a tiny fraction of their former splendor in the space of a single human lifetime, most folks will need precise directions in order to navigate the burned-over clear-cuts and tree farms that now cover the land. This guide will get you into the storied woods--and much more. Locations and maps of many (but not all) great stands of old growth are provided, such as Northern California's Headwaters Forest, Oregon's Opal Creek Wilderness, Washington's Hoh Rainforest, and others north into British Columbia and Southeast Alaska. Additionally, a brief crash course in forest ecology places the giants in a broader ecosystem context, while descriptive passages cover identification and natural histories for common species.
However, "this field guide is not about the weighty scientific details, or the disputes about or denunciation of past timber practices," as the introduction cautions. "Instead, it's about access and appreciation." True, but once you learn how to find one of these impressive remnant forests, you'll wonder how so many others could be squandered.
About the Author
Larry Eifert is a nature writer, painter, and illustrator, and the author of numerous trail guides and books for the National Park Service, including The Distinctive Qualities of Redwoods. He lives in Port Townsend, Washington.