This is one of the finest books on ecology in this decade, for it delineates the creeping environmental degradation that occurs when a boomtown pushes toward a wilderness. Bowden, author of Blue Desert, here explores the Santa Catalina Mountains (declared a Reserve in 1902) just outside of Tucson, Ariz., where he has lived for more than 40 years. Today, he writes, the city is ""a living, crawling thing probing the desert with subdivisions, roads and machines.'' The chronology runs like this: mining claims, ranches, a sawmill, summer cabins and camps, an inn, a paved highway in 1950, followed by radar towers and observatories on the mountain tops. There was further development: the Forest Service approved removal of an ancient stand of Douglas fir for a ski run; in 1984, bulldozers mowed down huge mesquite stands to widen the highway; the Forest Service recorded 1.3 million recreation visitors. Meanwhile, notes Bowden, hotels and foothill homes peddle natural splendor even as they destroy it. He makes an eloquent plea to ``get the cattle, mines, houses, roads, ski runs, golf courses and towers off the range.'' He reminds us that the Catalinas are just a small part of the worldwide assault on wilderness areas. His narrative is admirably supported by Dykinga's dramatic photographs. (May 22)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1987 Release date: 03/01/1987 Genre: Nonfiction
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