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After the Grizzly

Endangered Species and the Politics of Place in California

Peter S. Alagona


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Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (5/28/2013)
Paperback (5/1/2013)


Thoroughly researched and finely crafted, After the Grizzly traces the history of endangered species and habitat in California, from the time of the Gold Rush to the present. Peter S. Alagona shows how scientists and conservationists came to view the fates of endangered species as inextricable from ecological conditions and human activities in the places where those species lived.

Focusing on the stories of four high-profile endangered species—the California condor, desert tortoise, Delta smelt, and San Joaquin kit fox—Alagona offers an absorbing account of how Americans developed a political system capable of producing and sustaining debates in which imperiled species serve as proxies for broader conflicts about the politics of place. The challenge for conservationists in the twenty-first century, this book claims, will be to redefine habitat conservation beyond protected wildlands to build more diverse and sustainable landscapes.

Praise For After the Grizzly: Endangered Species and the Politics of Place in California

"Alagona adroitly documents the roles that historical contingency and a few influential, passionate people can play in shaping the mixed fortunes of endangered species."
— Science

"Unquestionably one of the best books about endangered species in the United States ever written . . . Richly detailed
empirical research, compelling contemporary relevance, and arresting stories rendered in eloquent prose . . . a
major and much needed contribution."
— AAG Review of Books

"On the landmark species-saving law’s 40th anniversary, environmental historian Peter Alagona explains why it doesn’t quite work, and offers a path toward recovery."
— Smithsonian Magazine

"Shows how a political system was designed around [four endangered species] to speak about broader issues of place."
— Santa Barbara News-Press

"This book can improve understanding of sustainability because it reminds us of the complex and interdependent nature of sustainability challenges."
— Conservation Biology

"This well written and timely a must-read for students and researchers of natural resources law and policy..."
— Biological Conservation

"[Alagona] rightly argues that we need a larger vision that more forthrightly acknowledges human action within a greater biotic community."
— American Historical Review

“[Alagona] is passionate about preserving the diversity and richness of the natural world and attuned to the complexities of related issues. Throughout, [this book teaches] us much about what we need to be doing—and why it is vitally important to care.”
— Foreword

University of California Press, 9780520355545, 336pp.

Publication Date: February 25, 2020

About the Author

Peter S. Alagona is Associate Professor of History, Geography, and Environmental Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He was previously a Bill Lane Fellow at Stanford and Beagle Environmental Fellow at Harvard and has worked as a national park ranger and a consulting ecologist.