The Sage Spirit book has been released and is officially available from Braided River, daveshowalter.com, and at retail and online stores. When I started working with Braided River, Helen Cherullo described what we were about to do as “a process.” Helen knows because she and her staff have created ten books since she visualized Braided River as an imprint of Mountaineers Books. Braided River came about after Senator Barbara Boxer held up Sunhankar Banarshee’s book Seasons Of Life And Land on the Senate floor while making a passionate plea to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from drilling. From that moment, Helen visualized two conservation photography books per year that would serve as a foundation for an advocacy campaign, a brand for important conservation issues. I’m proud to be a Braided River photographer and author and proud of what we’ve accomplished so far. The process of creating this book has taken over a year of intensive work with the amazingly talented Braided River staff, a stretch that I now view more as an education than work. With our partners Audubon Rockies, The Wilderness Society, and Sierra Club Wyoming Chapter, we aim to build a solid campaign with media, presentations, exhibits, and whatever else it takes to change the conversation and change direction in the Sagebrush Sea of the American West. Words can’t express my heartfelt thanks to Helen and wonderful folks at Braided River for working so hard to bring this story to life. Now, as Helen has reminded me, the real work begins.
“The best way to protect the sage grouse or the prairie chickens is to sell it to someone.” “Is there a shortage of cows in our country? No, because someone owns cows.”
Senator and presidential (R) candidate Rand Paul speaking in Elko, Nevada
Greater Sage-grouse need habitat, sagebrush habitat, large unbroken expanses of good habitat with grasses, forbs, insects; a landscape free of disturbance. They are hard-wired to the sagebrush ecosystem and simply can’t survive without sage. Captive breeding programs haven’t been very successful – and relocating has mixed results – Sage-grouse and 350 other western species still need sagebrush habitat. The only way ranchers can “raise” sage-grouse is by protecting their habitat and we have a government program for those ranchers. It’s called the Sage Grouse Initiative and it’s a very successful government program. This noble bird of the American West has been here for 25 million years and we have a plan to recover the species. Deal with it.
Cover image of Sage Spirit – The American West At A Crossroads. The book and campaign will be launched with Braided River Publishing in July.
At last, the Sage Spirit book is in the homestretch and we’re planing our outreach campaign. Braided River Publishing is an amazing group of talented pros and we’re working hard to get this book published and share the story. None other than David Allen Sibley, Todd Wilkinson, Rick Bass, and biologist Pat Magee have made major contributions to the text. Always with something to say, I’ve written a fair amount too. We’ve included profiles of some important Westerners and can’t wait to share the story – Braided River and our major partners Audubon, The Wilderness Society, and the Sierra Club all have ambitious plans for the campaign. Together we can conserve and pass on a sustainable American West. Stay tuned!