The past 40 years have witnessed remarkable changes in American fire policy, institutions, sciences, and practices. Yet the standard history, Fire in America, ends in the 1970s. It misses the momentous events that make America’s great cultural revolution on fire. But more is at stake than missing years. The revolution changed the storyline. It deserves its own narrative.
The federal agencies have generously agreed to fund a sequel study that will survey the history from 1960 to 2011. The project will result in two books. Between Two Fires: A Fire History of America, 1960-2011 will relate the basic narrative. To the Last Smoke will assemble an anthology of essays to highlight particular places, personalities, and practices. Between Two Fires will thus serve as the play-by-play record, and To the Last Smoke as the color commentary, as organized around regions.
Shift plan for 2013: I have begun writing the grand narrative. I hope to complete a full if rough draft before the start of classes in August, and then spend fall semester revising. I’ll devote 2014 to a final round of research travels, hotspotting sites I missed during my first recon and mopping up some others. I’ll complete the Southwest suite as part of that final circuit. My expectation is that the full project will be completed by the summer of 2014.
Meanwhile, I have an essay on the New Jersey Pinelands, probably the country’s most famous unknown firescape [Bog and burn].
Funding comes from the U.S. Forest Service, Department of the Interior, and Joint Fire Science Program.