A revealing look at the role of prescribed burns in sustaining the longleaf pine forests of the Southeast
Fire can be a destructive, deadly element of nature, capable of obliterating forests, destroying homes, and taking lives. Den Latham's Painting the Landscape with Fire describes this phenomenon but also tells a different story, one that reveals the role of fire ecology in healthy, dynamic forests. Fire is a beneficial element that allows the longleaf forests of America's Southeast to survive.
In recent decades foresters and landowners have become intensely aware of the need to "put enough fire on the ground" to preserve longleaf habitat for red-cockaded woodpeckers, quail, wild turkeys, and a host of other plants and animals. Painting the Landscape with Fire is a hands-on primer for understanding the role of fire in longleaf forests. Latham joins wildlife biologists, foresters, wildfire fighters, and others as they band and translocate endangered birds, survey snake populations, improve wildlife habitat, and conduct prescribed burns on public and private lands.
Painting the Landscape with Fire explores the unique Southern biosphere of longleaf forests. Throughout Latham beautifully tells the story of the resilience of these woodlands and of the resourcefulness of those who work to see them thrive. Fire is destructive in the case of accidents, arson, or poor policy, but with the right precautions and safety measures, it is the glowing life force that these forests need.
Den Latham is a nature writer. His articles have appeared in South Carolina Wildlife, Pee Dee Magazine, Sandlapper Magazine, and the Aroostook Review. He is an extensive traveler and is a two-time member of the U.S. East Surf Kayak Team. He has two sons, Adam and Aaron, and lives with his wife, Allison, near Clemson, South Carolina.
"This book is a tour de force exploring the myriad ecological connections within the longleaf pine ecosystem while demonstrating its total dependence upon natural and cultural fire for its continued existence."—Robert W. McFarlane, consulting ecologist, McFarlane & Associates, and author of A Stillness in the Pines: The Ecology of the Red-cockaded Woodpecker.
"Painting the Landscape with Fire weaves three narratives into its masterful account of the longleaf-pine forest. The fascinating story of its distinctive ecosystem supports Den Latham's explanation of why both wildfires and controlled burns are increasingly recognized as essential to its health, while his profiles of numerous people who live and work in this forest contribute a rich cultural perspective as well as a skein of droll dialogue."—John Elder, author of Reading the Mountains of Home and co-editor of the Norton Book of Nature Writing.
"Den Latham's Painting the Landscape with Fire is a helpful volume for anyone who wants to understand the importance of fire to the South's beautiful forests of longleaf pine. Focusing on the Sandhills region of South Carolina, Latham converses with landowners, foresters, botanists and biologists to show the challenges that forest managers face in using fire to manage forests in a rapidly developing South."—Larry Earley, author of Looking for Longleaf: The Fall and Rise of an American Forest