Michael Kaufman recalls his frustration when he mentioned the Klamath Mountains to his friends.
Kaufman, who lives in Kneeland, a small community about 14 miles from both Eureka and Arcata in Northern California’s Humboldt County, says the common response when he points to the nearby mountain range was, “Where are the Klamath Mountains?”
After years of frustration, he decided, “It’s one of those little secrets that needs a voice.”
Kaufman’s requested soundtrack is “Klamath Mountains: A Natural History,” which he co-edited with Justin Garwood. There are many “voices” in the informative book, with Garwood, Kaufman, and 32 other authors providing input on everything from geology, fire ecology, plant communities, invertebrates, reptiles, birds, and first peoples.
While Kaufman has presented or contributed to chapters presenting climate, cryptofauna, plant communities, invertebrates, birds, and mammals, Garwood has authored or co-authored chapters on climate, water, invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. Another 32 – most of them affiliated with California Polytechnic State University, Humboldt or Cal Poly Humboldt – have written on a variety of other topics related to the region’s incredibly rich and diverse biodiversity.
The idea for the book arose from Kaufman’s desire to help people learn about and appreciate the Klamath Mountains, a rugged, lightly visited mountain range that stretches across an area from northwestern California to southwestern Oregon. The area includes the Siskiyou, Marble, Scott, and Trinity Mountains along with the Trinity Alps. The region is divided by several major rivers, including the Klamath, Rogue, Illinois, Chitco, Scott, and Salmon rivers.
As David Raines Wallace, author of Klamath Knots, points out in the book’s introduction, so far “there is no comprehensive field guide to the Klamath region. In a way, it worked for me because I liked to think I was exploring an unknown place. … This book It is a big step towards convincing people that the protection in the Klamath Mountains is worth much more than the scenic views.”
Likewise, as Kaufman wrote in his introduction, the book’s goal is to answer: “How do we begin to create a society in which children of all ages can interpret and understand the natural world? The answer, most likely, is the study of nature.”
In his geological history chapter, author Mark Bailey writes that the Klamath Mountains have been somewhat overlooked by John Muir and others because “historically, the region has been poorly understood by scholars due to its rugged terrain and isolation. … It was, essentially, uncharted territory.” for foreigners.”
Bailey thinks the area is fascinating because the mountains “are made up of almost all the different types of rocks that are common on Earth — and others that are not so common.”
While the book is semi-technical—”we hope it will be within the reach of every reader,” Kaufman says—it’s made readable through discrete writings, such as a page on the ice age in the region, and many pages filled with color photos illustrating everything from flowers and pecks. Wood and snakes to rabbits, rabbits, turtles, bats, frogs, frogs, fish, mollusks, bees, plants and butterflies.
Kaufman said he started a blueprint for the book after meeting Garwood in 2012. A few years later, the two met others with knowledge in different disciplines, and they told them, “This is our vision.”
Garwood, who holds Cal Poly Humboldt degrees in fisheries and wildlife biology, has been an ecologist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for 15 years. His background includes studying population trends of cascade frogs, observing ice fields and glacier slopes in the Klamath Mountains, and developing and implementing monitoring programs for salmon, hardhead and coastal trout. Kaufman credits Garwood as helping to work with others in providing details and nuances.
The book was published by Backcountry Press, which Kaufman launched in 2012 after other publishers pulled back on his first book, “Conifer Country.” Kaufman moved to Humboldt County after graduating from Virginia Tech and later earned a master’s degree in biology from Cal Poly Humboldt University. He has many interests as a plant research ecologist, is president of the Bigfoot Trail Alliance, is involved in Save the Redwoods League, and has been a Fortuna Elementary School District teacher for nearly 20 years. He says his goal at all age levels is to “connect people of all ages with the natural world”.
The book also reported Kaufman, who admits, “I’ve learned so much that it’s amazing.”
Now, with the book, he hopes others will learn about the Klamath Mountains.
Klamath Mountains: A Natural History by Michael Kaufman and Justin Garwood is available from backcountrypress.com.
Contact freelance writer Lee Juillerat at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-880-4139.