Nature / Public Lands / Democracy

I am a professor emeritus of history but continue to research and write. For years, those words above marked my intellectual territory. I wrote and taught about other things, of course, but I circled those over and over. I continue to be fascinated by those concepts and practices, and I approach them through history and occasionally more creative forms. The compounding environmental and political crises we see and experience in the twenty-first century make them urgent topics to examine and understand.

Most of my research and writing focuses on the American West. Through my work, I try to understand how the public and commodity users, scientists and managers, and local and federal policymakers create and contest the public interest, especially on public lands. This stretches across the spectrum from untrammeled wilderness to overused rangelands and forests.

Through these investigations, I have come to believe, as Terry Tempest Williams once put it, that:

“The integrity of our public lands depends on the integrity of our public process within the open space of democracy.”

The hour of land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks (2016)

Accordingly, my work explores and interprets those integrities—how they are constituted, eroded, and reimagined within the context of an ever-changing natural world with human influences traced throughout. I often consider the ways I am implicated in these contexts.

Now that I have left the college classroom, I continue to pursue this work albeit in different forms and contexts. This allows me to engage more easily with audiences beyond students and professional historians. That freedom also permits me to explore ideas beyond history when the inspiration and opportunity strikes.

I happily live in the Skagit Valley in western Washington.

Please go here to contact me.