Writer Profile

Books & Essays

  • Book Cover

    Blue Ridge 2020: an Owner's Manual

    Date Published:
    University of North Carolina Press 1999

    The mountain chain known as the Blue Ridge traces a 550-mile arc through Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia. Along the way, it encompasses Shenandoah National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, seven national forests, numerous federal wilderness areas and state parks, and parts of the Appalachian Trail. It is the largest concentration of public lands east of the Mississippi and home to an astonishing diversity of plant and animal life. But as the most extensive natural area in the increasingly populous Southeast, the Blue Ridge ecosystem faces unique challenges in the next decades.

    Drawing on scientific research in a variety of disciplines, journalist Steve Nash provides a clear and evenhanded introduction to some of the most hotly disputed environmental issues facing the Blue Ridge, including the invasion of exotic plants and insects, the explosive growth of suburban-style communities in natural areas, worsening air and water pollution, and the erratic management of national forests. Informative and highly readable, Blue Ridge 2020 takes a hard look at what is at risk in these mountains and what we?as the "owners" of the public lands?must do if we intend to preserve their future.

    Book Review #1:
    Nash (journalism, Univ. of Richmond) provides a fascinating account of the economic and ecological forces shaping the Blue Ridge, a segment of the Appalachian Mountains running from Pennsylvania to Georgia. Much of the region is protected in national parks and other wilderness areas, but Nash demonstrates the pervasive negative influence of human activity on plants and animals even in remote areas. Acid rain, pollution, alien species and pests, suburban development, logging, and road building all stress the environment. Nash shows how changes in the forest, such as the loss of chestnut and hemlock trees, have ripple effects that threaten other species like the minuscule moss spider. Nash does have reason to hope, including efforts to find disease-resistant trees to reforest damaged areas, policy initiatives to control growth and pollution, and efforts by local citizens to fight industries that damage the environment. Highly recommended for libraries in the region and for larger environmental collections elsewhere. Library Journal

    Book Review #2:
    The Blue Ridge Mountains run 500 miles from Pennsylvania to Georgia and take in some of the eastern United States' wildest country, including seven national parks and many state parks and wilderness areas. The mountain chain also embraces, environmental journalist Steve Nash writes, 29 species of snakes, 70 species of mammals, more than 200 species of birds, 70 species of fish, 1400 species of flowering plants, and more than 130 species of trees--almost as many as can be found in all of Europe. The richness is astonishing, but also, Nash writes, seemingly unappreciated, for the Blue Ridge is now under threat from industrial, commercial, and residential development, with acid rain and other hazards affecting its many ecosystems. Guiding his readers through many scenarios on how these environmental problems might best be lessened, Nash points out that conflicting scientific data lends an "illusion of precision" to the idea, on one hand, that nature will automatically right itself or, on the other hand, that catastrophic change is irreversible. Neither case, he suggests, is strictly true, and he invites his readers to participate in the business of developing a vision for the Blue Ridge's sustainable future. Residents of the region and students of regional planning alike will find Nash's book to be of much interest. --Gregory McNamee

    Book Review #3:
    A thorough and clear-eyed examination of this most precious and majestic resource. Greensboro News and Record