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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Places of Quiet Beauty - Parks, Preserves, and Environmentalism

By Rebecca Conard
Foreword by Wayne Franklin

Resource protection and public recreation policies have always been subject to the shifting winds of management philosophy governing both national and state parks. Somewhere in the balance, however, parks and preserves have endured as unique places of mind as well as matter. Places of Quiet Beauty allows us to see parks and preserves, forests and wildlife refuges—all those special places that the term “park” conjures up—as measures of our own commitment to caring for the environment. In this broad-ranging book, historian Rebecca Conard examines the complexity of American environmentalism in the twentieth century as manifest in Iowa's state parks and preserves.

“Places of Quiet Beauty is a wonderfully crafted story about people and politics and how each in turn influenced the other. Rich in biographical detail, Places examines the conflicting demands that are placed on parks and the implications of the constant ebbing and flowing of public and political support. Rebecca Conard, through her wonderful mosaic of people, places, politics, and the environmental movement, reminds us that the maintenance of a strong park program depends on a constantly vigilant public and progressive and supportive legislatures. Enjoyable, educational, and highly readable, Places of Quiet Beauty helps us understand why we treasure our parks and what, in the final analysis, 'land stewardship' really means.”—Dwight T. Picaithley, Chief Historian, National Park Service

“As a result of Conard's study, Iowa will resume its rightful place as an acknowledged leader among the states in early twentieth-century park and conservation affairs. Because of the breadth of its coverage, Places of Quiet Beauty will appeal to scholars, public officials, resource managers, and civic leaders with an interest in Iowa government, politics, and resources as well as to those interested more specifically in parks.”—Susan Flader, editor and coauthor, Exploring Missouri's Legacy: State Parks and Historic Sites

“This book is much more than a historical documentary. It is a window to the past that easily opens through the author's skill and passion for her subject. The reader not only experiences the events but comes to know, in a personal way, the major characters who provided leadership in early conservation efforts. It enables the reader to understand and appreciate conservation issues over the past century and their particular relevance to today's challenges. . . . Conard is a great historian and Places of Quiet Beauty is a great guide.”—Iowa Conservationist

“Places of Quiet Beauty is highly readable, fairly presented, and impressively well researched. It should be read by scholars and citizens who are interested not only in Iowa’s state parks but in the protection of valued places all over the globe.”—Journal of American History

“Places of Quiet Beauty delivers a rich story of Iowa’s state park system from its inception to the present. . . . Well conceived and written in an engaging fashion, Places of Quiet Beauty is a significant work in a field awaiting more scholarly attention.”—Kansas History

Rebecca Conard received the Throne-Aldrich Award from the State Historical Society of Iowa in 1993.

400 pages, 25 photos, 1997 $36.00 paper, 0-87745-558-9, 978-0-87745-558-5

Sunday, January 25, 2009

An Overview of Last Child in the Woods

In this influential work about the staggering divide between children and the outdoors, child advocacy expert Richard Louv directly links the lack of nature in the lives of today's wired generation—he calls it nature-deficit—to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as the rises in obesity, attention disorders, and depression.

Last Child in the Woods is the first book to bring together a new and growing body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. More than just raising an alarm, Louv offers practical solutions and simple ways to heal the broken bond—and many are right in our own backyard.

This new edition reflects the enormous changes that have taken place since the book was originally published. It includes:

  • 100 actions you can take to create change in your community, school, and family.

  • 35 discussion points to inspire people of all ages to talk about the importance of nature in their lives.

  • A new progress report by the author about the growing Leave No Child Inside movement.

  • New and updated research confirming that direct exposure to nature is essential for the physical and emotional health of children and adults.

Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder has spurred a national dialogue among educators, health professionals, parents, developers and conservationists.

This is a book that will change the way you think about your future and the future of your children.

Click on the NPR Logo to listen to a brief interview with the author

July 16, 2008: TODAY’s Ann Curry talks with Richard Louv about ways to help your kids experience nature:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Environmental ammendment one step closer to the ballot

A constitutional amendment that would earmark a portion of state sales taxes specifically for natural resources funding won unanimous approval by the Senate Natural Resources Committee Tuesday.

The money raised from the tax would go to things like helping farmers control soil erosion, creating and maintaining wildlife habitats and maintaining recreation trails and state parks.

Senate Joint Resolution 1 would reserve 3/8 of a cent of the next sales tax increase for natural resources funding. Estimates place the revenue from such a tax increase at $150 million per year.

The proposed constitutional amendment was approved last year, so approval this year by both the House and Senate would put the issue before Iowa voters in November 2010.
But even if voters approve the amendment the legislature would have to approve a new increase in the sales tax for it to bring in any money.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said previously that he opposes the idea of altering the Constitution for this type of purpose but believes the resolution will receive overwhelming support in the legislature this year.