In Service of the Wild: Restoring and Reinhabiting Damaged Land
Mills portrays a grassroots endeavor spurred by some of our most creative thinkers. She visits Nina Leopold Bradley to learn the story of the regenerating Sand County Farm. She walks restored prairie in Chicago with Steve Packard, who leads a project involving hundreds of urban volunteers in work yielding rich new lodes of botanical, zoological, and geological knowledge. She chronicles both bioregionalists in northern California struggling in chilly creeks and in heated community meetings to save their native race of salmon and visionary communitarians in South India working to "green" their 2,500 acres of blasted earth. Mills takes a hard look at what land restoration can and can't achieve. She reminds us that extinction is forever and that land development can fragment landscapes beyond repair. Yet restoration, by drawing people back to their ecosystems, takes us far beyond the easy pieties of can recycling. In Service of the Wild begins and ends on the author's home ground, thirty-five acres of farmed-out land now planted in Scotch pine monoculture. Mills imagines her northern Michigan landscape from its barren glaciated past to its climax as maplebeech hardwood forest to the ways in which logging, slash fires, and agriculture transformed the Northwoods ecology. With her trademark humor and humility, Mills invites the reader along as she learns to dig up, plant anew, and generally to assist the regenerative processes of time and nature.
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