Review of Chris Bolgiano’s The Appalachian Forest
Review of The Appalachian Forest, A Search For Roots and Renewal by Chris Bolgiano (Stackpole Books, 1988, 280 pages)
Anyone backpacking the Appalachian Trail between Springer Mountain and the Northern Terminus of Shenandoah National Park passes through two National Parks and six National Forests. These federal lands contain and preserve some of the last remnants of the once Great Appalachian Forest as well as the hope for the emergence of a new Great Forest.
While Chris Bolgianos The Appalachian Forest will help provide any past or future AT hiker a better understanding of the forest the AT in the south passes through, the reader will soon learn that forests are more than trees. In addition to a thorough discussion of the American Chestnut and other trees indigenous to the Appalachians, the person who reads this gem will also find an overview of the impacts of clear cutting, strip mining, and acid rain. Employing her informed but not overly scientific style, Bolgiano introduces some of the flora and fauna other than trees one might encounter along the trail, including ginseng, salamanders, black bears, and the mysterious balds unique to many Appalachian summits.
The author also provides a history of some of the people associated with the southern mountains, including the Scots-Irish who formed the backbone of the Appalachian mountain culture, and the Cherokee, some of whose descendants still live on a reservation in the area. Anyone who treks through these pages will also meet modern day white water rafters and kayakers, mountain bikers, and environmentalists.
I was born and have spent most of my life in the Appalachian Mountains. They are my second home, yet Bolgiano provided me not only with a refreshing review of the region and its environmental concerns related to the forest but also abundant new information. She tied it all together with a well written, informative, and entertaining narrative. I highly recommend her book.
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