PULLMAN, Wash. — One of the last large blocks of wild country left in the Lower 48, the Clearwater Country in north-central Idaho is home to cougars, bears, and lynxes; lodgepole forests; cedar groves; and ponderosa pine. In Wild to the Last: Environmental Conflict in the Clearwater Country (WSU Press, 1998), Charles Pezeshki chronicles this magnificent landscape and the people who are working to preserve it.
Wild to the Last begins with a tour of the Clearwater Country, featuring vivid descriptions of the geography and wildlife of various pockets of Idaho wilderness. Pezeshki takes the reader on a kayak run down Lolo Creek, surveying the changes wrought by a year of logging. He hikes through the Mallard-Larkins Pioneer Area, cheered by the sight of small frogs around Larkin Lake. He tracks wolves through the Cayuse back country, lamenting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designation of them as “non-essential experimental populations.” He walks along Meadow Creek, through old-growth Douglas fir and cedar; and to the top of Buffalo Hump, past abandoned mine shafts and rusted mining equipment. He rafts the Lower Salmon River and camps by Kelly Creek, a fly-caster’s paradise. Along the way, Pezeshki reflects upon the impact of the 1964 Wilderness Act, the 1980 Central Idaho Wilderness Act, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and other governmental policies and agencies.
Pezeshki next introduces the reader to the individuals who are involved, in various ways, with the Clearwater Country. We meet Rowdy, a third-generation timber worker, who lost his job with the closing of the Ida-Pine Mill in Grangeville; Charlie Ray, wild salmon advocate for Idaho Rivers United; Tom Kovalicky, a career Forest Service manager; Dennis Baird, a long-time environmental activist; and others.
In the final section of Wild to the Last, Pezeshki focuses on current issues in north-central Idaho’s ecological crisis. “We live in a time where the bill is coming due for all of our excesses regarding the land we live on,” he writes. “There are prices to be paid, both ecologically and personally.”
In Wild to the Last, Pezeshki offers a fresh, landscape-level view of a special place, intertwining issues of global concern with the lives of ordinary people. Detailed maps and photos of beautiful vistas and destroyed landscapes are coupled with gripping stories of individual courage. The book brings the reader into the Clearwater Country, provides insight into past and current environmental problems, and illuminates a better future for both people and wildlands across the United States.
Wild to the Last already has received high praise from a number of noted environmental writers, including Audubon magazine contributing editor Ted Williams. “With this grand book,” wrote Williams, “Chuck Pezeshki emerges as one of America’s most cogent and lyrical environmental-activist authors.” Ann Zwinger, author of the books Beyond the Aspen Grove and The Mysterious Lands, called Wild to the Last “a book brimming with exhilaration, fresh attention and wit.”
Charles Pezeshki is an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Washington State University in Pullman,. An avid backpacker, whitewater kayaker and environmental activist, he directs the Clearwater Biodiversity Project with his wife Kelley from his home in Troy, Idaho.
Wild to the Last is a 288-page book, available for $22.95 in bookstores or direct from the WSU Press, 800-354-7360.
Editors, please note: Chuck Pezeshki is scheduled for the following appearances:
March 10, noon-2 p.m. — Students Book Corporation, 700 NE Thatuna, Pullman, WA,
509/332-2537; Anniversary Celebration, booksigning
March 10, 7 p.m. — The Vox Coffeehouse, 602 S. Main, Moscow, ID, 208/882-7646;
talk and book launch celebration sponsored by WSU Press and BookPeople of Moscow.
March 18, 7:30 p.m. — Chapter One Books, 252 Main Street, Hamilton, MT, 406/363-5220
March 19, TIME TBA — American Wildlands, Bozeman, MT, 406/586-8175
March 26, 7 p.m. — Lewis Clark State College Center for Arts and History, 415 Main Street,
Lewiston, ID; 208/799-2243; talk and booksigning
April 2, 7:30 p.m. — Auntie’s Bookstore, 402 W. Main, Spokane, WA, 509/838-0206;
talk and booksigning.
For more information, please call Beth DeWeese at WSU Press, 335-3518.