cover image Tracks in the Sky

Tracks in the Sky

Peter Steinhart, Chronicle Books, Tupper Ansel Blake. Chronicle Books, $35 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-87701-351-8

Near Greys Harbor, Wash., 350,000 shorebirds alight and feed on eight acres of mud flats; they are among millions that follow a migration routethe Pacific Flywayfrom the western Arctic to Costa Rica. The birds depend on wetlands near the coast, and these lands are disappearing in the wake of commerce; even the refugeswintering groundsare in trouble. Naturalist Steinhart makes a powerful statement about the urgency of preserving and restoring western wetlands; Blake's photographs carry their own eloquent message. Wetlands management is an administrative nightmare; at least six federal agencies plus several state agencies are involved, each with different goals and different definitions of a wetland. Steinhart discourses on the glories of mud, the ""foundation of life,'' a vital source of food for birds and the heart of our fisheries. A state-by-state survey shows a lack of funds and staff at both federal and state levels, declining water quality and continuous encroachment on wetlands. A timely and important book. (October)