Jason Mark

Jason Mark

Jason Mark's writings on the environment have appeared in The New York Times, TheAtlantic.comThe Nation, and Salon.com, among many other publications. He is the editor in chief of SIERRA magazine, was the longtime editor of Earth Island Journal, a quarterly magazine, and is a co-founder of San Francisco's largest urban farm. Time has called him "a rebel with a cause." For more, visit jasondovemark.com.
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Island Press Authors Share the Love

This Valentine’s Day, we thought it would be fun for Island Press authors to share the love. We asked a few authors to choose their favorite Island Press book—other than their own, of course—and explain what makes it so special. Check out their...

This Valentine’s Day, we thought it would be fun for Island Press authors to share the love. We asked a few authors to choose their favorite Island Press book—other than their own, of course—and explain what makes it so special. Check out their responses below, and use code 4MAGICAL for 25% off and free shipping all of the books below, as well as books from participating authors.

What’s your favorite Island Press book? Share your answer in the comments.

My favorite IP book—not that I’ve read them all—is Mike Lydon’s Tactical Urbanism. This book shows how ad hoc interventions can improve the public realm, especially if they’re later made permanent. I discussed the concept on the latest Spokesmen podcast with architect Jason Fertig and illustrator Bekka “Bikeyface” Wright, both of Boston. 

Carlton Reid, Bike Boom and Roads Were Not Built for Cars

Last year I wrote a cover story for SIERRA magazine about how Donald Trump's proposed wall along the US-Mexico border would all but eliminate any chance for recovering jaguar species in the Southwest. In the course of my research I came across Alan Rabinowitz's An Indomitable BeastIt's a great read, blending Rabinowitz's own experiences as a big cat biologist with cutting-edge findings on this amazing species. As a writer, this book and its amazing details helped me bring the jaguar to life for readers. 

Jason Mark, Satellites in the High Country

This day is a time for reaching beyond data and logic to think about deeper ways of knowing. Love, specifically, but I would add to that faith, tradition and ethics. That's why I love Aaron Wolf's new book, The Spirit of Dialogue: Lessons from Faith Traditions in Transforming Conflict. Going beyond the  mechanical "rationality" of the typical public meeting is necessary if we are to address the big issues of global sustainability and the smaller issues of how we sustain our local communities. Aaron Wolf provides the experience, tools and promise of a better, deeper approach.

Larry NielsenNature's Allies

Like many others, I am indebted to to Island Press for not one but three books that profoundly influenced my thinking. Panarchy (2001, edited by Lance Gunderson and C.S. Holling) introduced me to the concept of socio-ecological systems resilience. Resilience Thinking (2006, by Brian Walker and David Salt) taught me what systems resilience really means. And the follow-up book Resilience Practice (2012) helped me start to understand how systems resilience actually works. The latter remains the most-consulted book on my shelf—by Island Press or any other publisher—and I was thrilled and frankly humbled when Brian and David agreed to write a chapter for our own contribution to the field, The Community Resilience Reader (2017).

Daniel Lerch, The Community Resilience Reader

"A large percentage of my urbanism bookshelf is comprised of Island Press books, so it's very difficult to share my love for just one! So, I won't because the books we pull of the shelf most often these days are the NACTO Design Guides. Finally, a near complete set of highly usable and mutually supportive design standards that help us advocate for and build better streets, better places." 

Mike Lydon, Tactical Urbanism

 

 

Nicols Fox's Against the Machine is a book that’s becomes more relevant each year as technology impinges ever further on our daily lives. It’s a fascinating, deeply researched look at how and why people have resisted being treated as extensions of machines.

Phil Langdon, Within Walking Distance

Lake Effect by Nancy Nichols. I read this book several years ago. It is so important to hear the voices of those whose lives are impacted by industrial age pollutants, lest we slide into complacency. In this case, the story of the chemicals of Lake Michigan. It is a short, beautifully written, disturbing read.
Emily Monosson, Natural Defense and Unnatural Selection

Peter Gleick’s series, The World’s Water, is one of the most useful surveys of the cutting edge of global waters there is. Each edition brings in-depth coverage of the issues of the day, always eminently readable and backed up by the crack research team that he puts together for each topic. I use it in my classes, always confident that students (and I) will be kept abreast of the best of The World’s Water.
Aaron Wolf, The Spirit of Dialogue

Mark Jerome Walters' important book, Seven Modern Plagues, places great emphasis on linking emerging diseases with habitat destruction and other forms of modification natural processes. This book is a call for us to recognize that each new disease reflects an environmental warning.
Andy Dyer, Chasing the Red Queen

My favorite Island Press book is The New Agrarianism: Land, Culture, and the Community of Life, edited by Eric T. Freyfogle. Perhaps it remains my favorite IP text because it is the first IP text I remember reading front to back, twice! I first encountered the book as a graduate student and was struck my its scope and tone. The book is thought provoking. But it's also a joy to read, which isn't surprising in hindsight given the award-winning contributors.   
Michael Carolan, No One Eats Alone

Don't see your Island Press fave? Share it in the comments below!

Our National Parks Might Become a Gated Community

PHOTO BY KELLYVANDELLEN/ISTOCKSecretary Zinke’s proposal to increase entry fees could make parks an exclusive playground
PHOTO BY KELLYVANDELLEN/ISTOCK
PHOTO BY KELLYVANDELLEN/ISTOCK

Secretary Zinke’s proposal to increase entry fees could make parks an exclusive playground

The mission of America’s national parks seems pretty clear. Legislation establishing the National Park Service, passed just over a century ago, said the parks and monuments should “conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life” of parks and monuments “by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” Such places should be widely open to visitors. The Park Service is supposed to ensure that nothing “interfere[s] with free access . . . by the public.”

But somehow the people who now oversee the national parks didn’t get the memo. They’re hoping to jack up entry fees at some of the most iconic parks by such enormous percentages that those places will no doubt become less accessible to many.  

Earlier this week, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced a proposal to more than double entry fees at 17 of the most popular parks during the summer months. Vehicle fees will go from $30 to $70. Motorcycle visitors will see their entry fees spike from $25 (and as low as $12 in some parks) to $50. Per-person rates—for those who arrive on bicycle, foot, or horse—will go from $15 a head to $30. 

America’s public lands, rightly celebrated as an inspiring example of the country’s democratic aspirations, are at risk of becoming a gated community. 

Here are the names of the parks facing skyrocketing fee increases (on the chance that one of the places is beloved by you): Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Sequoia & Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Zion National Parks. 

You might be asking, What’s this all about? 

Zinke claims the fee increases are needed to address the Park Service’s reported $12 billion backlog of maintenance projects. “The infrastructure of our national parks is aging and in need of renovation and restoration,” Zinke said in a statement calling for “targeted fee increases at some of our most-visited parks.”

I have a hard time believing Zinke’s concern about the infrastructure backlog when, at the same time, he and President Trump are proposing a budget that would cut spending on the Park Service by 13 percent and reduce staff by up to 1,200 employees. Zinke’s deferred maintenance anxiety feels a bit disingenuous—enough crocodile tears to match Yosemite Falls. 

And while it’s true that some park facilities are badly in need of repair, the whole maintenance issue is a bit of a red herring. According to a report from the Center for American Progress, about $400 million of the backlog should actually be paid for by the concessionaires like Aramark and Xanterra that are making a killing on selling hot dogs at the visitor centers. Nearly half of the Park Service’s list of needs, close to $6 billion, is just for four roads in a handful of parks. 

Read the rest at Sierra, the national magazine of the Sierra Club.

Let the National Monuments Hear How Much You Love Them

About half of all the all of the Sequoiadendron giganteum that exist on Earth reside in California’s Giant Sequoia National Monument. At Bear’s Ears National Monument in Utah, pre-Columbian petroglyphs and potsherds can be found tucked...

About half of all the all of the Sequoiadendron giganteum that exist on Earth reside in California’s Giant Sequoia National Monument. At Bear’s Ears National Monument in Utah, pre-Columbian petroglyphs and potsherds can be found tucked amid the high desert buttes. Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is a testament to how a forest battered by logging can regrow into a wet and wild home for moose, bear, and lynx.

Wonderful places, all—and each of them under threat.   

Sequoia trees.JPG
Public Domain, Link

As you might have heard, these national monuments and nearly two dozen others are the target of downsizing or elimination as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke conducts an unprecedented review of the national monuments created under the Antiquities Act. 

The whole thing has been something of a sham from the start. It seems little more than a way for President Trump to throw a bone to the Bundy clan (or is it, ahem, klan?) segment of his base, the anti-government zealots in the West who hate the very idea of public lands. The scope of Zinke’s review has been arbitrary from the start: monuments created since 1996 and over 100,000 acres in size. Those lines were quite transparently drawn to draw in Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which has been a bête noir of Utah’s congressional delegation since it was established by President Clinton. Katahdin Woods didn’t qualify—at 87,00 acres, it’s relatively small—but Zinke included it anyway. This is apparently because the monument—a donation to the American people from the family behind Burt’s Bees—annoys (even-crazier than Trump) Governor Paul LePage. 

Katahdin, photographed from the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.png
By MajorRogers - Photographed on an October trip to the Monument. Previously published: Cover photo on my Katahdin Woods and Waters Facebook page, Link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/183741732065812/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

 

Even as Zinke moves to reduce Bear’s Ears by as much as half, he’s already announced that five monuments are going to be spared: Craters of the Moon in Idaho, Hanford Reach in Washington, Canyons of the Ancients in Colorado, Grand Canyon-Parashant in Arizona, and Upper Missouri River Breaks in Zinke’s home state of Montana. Why these ones? The public doesn’t know, as the Interior Department has dodged questions about why these five deserve protection. 

Zinke’s one nod to transparency and public input backfired on the Trump administration. Of the 2.7 million comments submitted during all-too-brief public comment period, 98 percent of them expressed support for maintaining the current national monuments, according to the Center for Western Priorities. 

The public comment period is now closed. Trump’s executive order directs Zinke to issue his preliminary recommendations by August 24. But there’s still one last chance to make your voice heard. 

Starting this Saturday, August 19 and stretching through August 22, there will be rallies nationwide to demonstrate support for public lands. You can find a list of events here

Hopefully you can make one of them, and let the national monuments and Trump-Zinke know how much you love our public lands.