cover image Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman: Conservation Heroes of the American Heartland

Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman: Conservation Heroes of the American Heartland

Miriam Horn. Norton, $27.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-393-24734-3

Horn (Earth: The Sequel, cowritten with Fred Krupp), a former journalist now at the Environmental Defense Fund, shines a light on “conservation heroes” who are leading ambitious environmental initiatives in their communities and beyond. Human activities, such as the overharvesting of fish and the overtilling of fertile soil, continue to compromise the biodiversity of landscapes around the world; to balance the scales, Horn offers redemptive portraits of five stewards of the American heartland whose daily work “has itself become the path to restoration.” Unlike the policy makers who remain distant from the practical effects of their policies, these five—a Montana rancher, a Kansas farmer, a Mississippi riverman, a Louisiana shrimper, and a Gulf of Mexico fisherman—are “real Americans” whose “livelihoods and communities will live or die with these ecosystems.” Motivated by deep allegiances to the places they live, as well as an understanding of the “irreducible interdependency” between humans and nature, these individuals are taking radical steps toward sustainability: one restores depleted soils through industrial-scale farming methods, and another advocates for fishing regulations that will support the long-term regrowth of threatened red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico. Horn’s intimate profiles reveal undervalued environmental change makers while countering popular notions of what it means to be a conservationist. (Sept.)