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Its fires help to give the Interior West a peculiar character, fundamental to its natural and human histories. While a general aridity unites the region—defined here as Nevada, Utah, and western Colorado—its fires illuminate the ways that the region’s various parts show profoundly different landscapes, biotas, and human settlement experiences.
In this collection of essays, fire historian Stephen J. Pyne explains the relevance of the Interior West to the national fire scene. This region offered the first scientific inquiry into landscape fire in the United States, including a map of Utah burns published in 1878 as part of John Wesley Powell’s Arid Lands report. Then its significance faded, and for most of the 20th century, the Interior West was the hole in the national donut of fire management. Recently the region has returned to prominence due to fires along its front ranges; invasive species, both exotics like cheatgrass and unleashed natives like mountain pine beetle; and fatality fires, notably at South Canyon in 1994.
The Interior West has long been passed over in national fire narratives. Here it reclaims its rightful place.
Included in this volume:
A summary of 19th- and 20th-century fire history in the Interior West
How this important region inspired U.S. studies of landscape fire
Why the region disappeared from national fire management discussions
How the expansion of invasive species and loss of native species has affected the region’s fire ecology
The national significance of fire in the Interior West