Local author Shana Lee Hirsch (Courtesy Photo).

Local author Shana Lee Hirsch (Courtesy Photo).

Local author sheds light on how to cope with climate change

The book explores how climate change indicators affect the daily work of scientists.

“Climate Change, Adaptive Restoration, and the Columbia River Basin,” is the newly published work of island author Shana Lee Hirsch.

The book, published in July by the University of Washington Press, explores how climate change indicators including drought, wildfire and extreme flooding affect the daily work of scientists.

In the book, Hirsch posits how restoration efforts in the Columbia River Basin — a vast and diverse landscape experiencing warming waters, less snowpack, and greater fluctuations in precipitation — may offer answers in understanding an increasingly dynamic future. Telling the story of the basin by surveying its past and detailing the work of today’s salmon habitat restoration efforts, Hirsch has written a book that David Montgomery, author of “King of Fish: The Thousand-Year Run of Salmon,” has called a “hard look at how to restore an ecosystem that is changing out from under you.”

Hirsch has lived on Vashon for 15 years with her husband and built a house here. She worked her way through a Ph.D. with jobs at Vashon Winery, the old Macrina Bakery and at island farms.

“I did all of the research for the book with Vashon as my home base,” Hirsch told The Beachcomber. “I think I was one of the only people driving around Vashon with studded snow tires every winter, but I needed them to go over the mountain passes and up into the backcountry to interview people. I drove tens of thousands of miles around the Columbia River Basin, throughout Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and British Columbia, far up dirt roads into the headwaters to meet restorationists, tribal members, farmers, ranchers, all kinds of people.”

She tried hard, she said, to write the book in a way that was accessible to a general audience, though it contains a lot of academic concepts about environmental management, science and policy.

“A lot of people in our region can forget the diverse ecosystems and communities that salmon have to travel through on their way to their headwaters,” she said. “Those salmon that make it all the way up the valleys of Idaho have been on an epic journey, and all along the way, there are folks working to restore their habitat. The impacts of climate change are making their job so much harder, and yet, they don’t give up. There is just too much to lose. The fish and the people keep fighting and I wanted to capture not only the complexity and the difficulties that ecological restorationists face with the impacts of climate change, but also the hope that is still there, and the power of that hope.”

Find out more and buy the book at uwapress.uw.edu.


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“Anticipating Future Environments,” by Shana Lee Hirsch, was published in July (University of Washington Press).

“Anticipating Future Environments,” by Shana Lee Hirsch, was published in July (University of Washington Press).

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