Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Reading Bruce Brown
For Christmas this year my mom bought me a copy of Moutain in the Clouds by Bruce Brown. She'd read an interview with the author in the Seattle Times and thought I would be interested. While I'd long known the book existed I'd never managed to get a hold of a copy but I'm glad I did. The book, first published in 1982 walks readers through the history of salmon declines in the Pacific Northwest. Full of historical fact and natural history the book tells the story of wild salmon in Washington State through vivid accounts of historic and contemporary attitudes towards the natural world and in specific wild salmon. Brown writes with a unique style that seamlessly weaves a keen understanding of natural history and Native American culture with political and economic realities that have long motivated the destruction of wild salmon and their habitats. What he delivers is a truly tragic account of the shortsightedness of our forebearers in the region as well as some important context and history for those who would quickly blame the Boldt decision and its reinstitution of Native American fishing rights for declining salmon in our waters. The book is damning of fish management in Washington and it is sad to see that many of the paradigms which lead to the decline of wild fish persist today hampering their recovery. Despite the sometimes bleak facts surrounding salmon the book manages to strike a chord of hope, identifying progress which had been made to halt the destruction of wild salmon habitats and areas in Washington where wild salmon still remained relatively robust. At the time of its writing the book offered a revolutionary view about salmon , criticizing the idea that hatcheries could sustain salmon populations and the people and ecosystems that depend on them. Today many of the facts remain as true as ever and Moutain in the Clouds and the ideas it embodies provide a foundation for the conservation and recovery of wild fish throughout our region. Fish lovers shouldn't be without a copy.