The Great Plains
A Fire Survey
Early descriptions of the Great Plains often focus on a vast, grassy expanse that was either burnt or burning. The scene continued to burn until the land was plowed under or grazed away and broken by innumerable roads and towns. Yet, where the original landscape has persisted, so has fire, and where people have sought to restore something of that original setting, they have had to reinstate fire. This has required the persistence or creation of a fire culture, which in turn inspired schools of science and art that make the Great Plains today a regional hearth for American fire.
Volume 5 of To the Last Smoke introduces a region that once lay at the geographic heart of American fire, and today promises to reclaim something of that heritage. After all these years, the Great Plains continue to bear witness to how fires can shape contemporary life, and vice versa. In this collection of essays, Stephen J. Pyne explores how this once most regularly and widely burned province of North America, composed of various subregions and peoples, has been shaped by the flames contained within it and what fire, both tame and feral, might mean for the future of its landscapes.
Included in this volume:
- How wildland and rural fire have changed from the 19th century to the 21st century
- How fire is managed in the nation’s historic tallgrass prairies, from Texas to South Dakota, from Illinois to Nebraska
- How fire connects with other themes of Great Plains life and culture
- How and why Texas has returned to the national narrative of landscape fire