Paul Henson is a wildlife biologist with Scientific Resources, Inc. in Portland, Oregon. Donald J. Usner is an environmental consultant in New Mexico. This book took shape while both were working in Big Sur. Valerie A. Kells, a freelance illustrator in Virginia, has a degree in Natural History and was part of this project from its start.
The Natural History of Big Sur
by Paul Henson and Donald J. Usner, 1996. Paperback, 416 pages.
Each year millions of people visit the area of rugged California coastline and wild mountains known as Big Sur. Finally here is a book that is both a natural history of this beautiful region and an excellent guide to its extensive public lands. The first section introduces the area's geology, climate, flora, fauna, and human history. The second section describes selected sites, trails, and features that are mentioned in Part One.
Although Big Sur is world famous for awe-inspiring scenery, it is less known for its great ecological diversity and its significance as a haven for many species of terrestrial and marine wildlife. In no other part of the world do fog-loving coastal redwoods thrive on one slope of a canyon while arid-climate yuccas grow on the other. Similarly, sea otters and cormorants live near dry-climate creatures like canyon wrens and whiptail lizards. The area's staggering beauty and forbidding wilderness have inspired artists, poets, naturalists, and hikers—and also real estate developers.
As increasing tourism, development pressure, and land-use decisions continue to affect Big Sur, this book will do much to heighten awareness of the region's biotic richness and fragility. Written in nontechnical language, with generous color photographs, drawings, maps, species lists, and a bibliography, it will attract both the casual and the serious naturalist, as well as anyone concerned about preserving California's natural heritage.
About the Authors