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Fire, Chaparral, and Survival in Southern California Paperback – January 28, 2008
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From the Publisher
Complete with a 32-page full-color field guide to the common plants, birds, and animals that dwell in the chaparral, this book is a "must-have" for natural history buffs, as well as those Southern Californians interested in learning more about their natural surroundings.
From the Author
There are many voices in this book, each with a wealth of experience living within and studying the chaparral of southern California. But the message delivered is a consistent, coherent one that will offer you an honest description of what we know today about the chaparral and its intimate relationship to fire.
As you continue investigating the subject it will become quite clear there are a significant number of opinions relating to fire management that are opposed to one another. It is difficult for the average individual to wade through it all and decide who is right. Try it. But be sure you look at the data and analyze it for yourself. Do not allow a well drawn map or a persuasive argument hijack your objectivity. Analyze the data and ask questions, even if it makes you or those you ask uncomfortable or defensive.
Sometimes it just takes listening to a new perspective and examining data with a more critical eye to help see the truth.
Richard W. Halsey
Top customer reviews
The first portion of the book defines, describes and discusses chaparral communities, stands of various types of vegetation that thrive throughout California and parts of Mexico. For the non-biologically or non-botanically inclined, DO NOT let this dissuade you. Not only does it help the reader to understand material in the subsequent chapters, but it also helps to open eyes to the remarkable natural beauty and wonder of Southern Californian ecosystems, beauty that thrives around us each and every day, but that most of us know little or nothing about, and thus cannot recognize. Following the crash course in botanical ecology are some wonderful accounts from a wide variety of contributors, including fire ecologists, veteran wildland firefighters, and survivors of some of Southern California's most catastrophic and devastating firestorms. Readers are sure to come away with a newfound appreciation for chaparral and its inherent beauty, as well as a greater understanding of the dangers humanity creates and then places itself in through our gross ignorance of the land and how we affect it.
Author Richard W. Halsey is a biologist/ecologist by passion, teacher by trade, and recently a wildland firefighter as well. He is the director of the California Chaparral Institute ([...]), a non-profit organization dedicated to education and the conservation of California chaparral, and teaches throughout Southern California. His book, "Fire, Chaparral, and Survival in Southern California" is recently published in a second edition; released in 2008, it includes discussions on the 2007 Firestorms that swept through San Diego, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Los Angeles Counties, and Baja California in Mexico.
As a 13-year resident of Southern California, a 2-time evacuee of the 2003 and 2007 Firestorms, and a volunteer firefighter, I have been recommending this book to friends, family, and co-workers alike. Educational and eye-opening on a variety of levels, it even challenged some of the schooling I had learned on the job and in academy. For example, chaparral does not "need" to burn periodically to survive - a misconception commonly taught in wildland training. Quite to the contrary, too-frequent burning will destroy the chaparral entirely, leaving the countryside vulnerable to non-native, weedy invasions, and inviting yet more frequent, faster and hotter wildland fires. I recommend this book not only to general residents and property owners, but to wildland firefighters as well. With as much time as we spend studying building construction, compartment fire behavior, structural collapse, and other aspects of structural firefighting, it makes equally as much sense to put the same amount of time and emphasis on studying the nature of the natural habitats we go into to fight wildland fires.
The bottom line: If you live in Southern California, or fight fire there, BUY THIS BOOK AND READ IT.
I didn't know some terminologies used in the book, so author could have dedicated a few pages of the book to define some uncommon terminologies.