Wilderburbs and Wildlife in the American West: A Q & A with Lincoln Bramwell

Lincoln Bramwell has a new book coming from University of Washington Press on wilderburbs. Wilderburbs are housing developments nestled up to “the edges of forests, deserts or mountain slopes of the American West.” When folks accustomed to suburban life move to a wilderburb they are often several new threats: wildfire, water scarcity and wild animals. Bramwell talks about Wilderburbs in an interview posted on the University of Washington Press Blog.

University of Washington Press Blog

Wilderburbs: Communities on Nature’s Edge is the environmental history of a housing phenomenon that places human developments in close proximity to wild places: on the edges of forests, deserts, and mountain slopes of the American West. Author Lincoln Bramwell, chief historian for the USDA Forest Service, spoke with us recently about what drove his interest in this topic and some of the major challenges that can accompany life in wilderburbs.

Q: Are wilderburbs and the sort of human/nature encounters they introduce a new phenomenon? 

Lincoln Bramwell: Wilderburbs are in no way a new phenomenon. People with means around the world have maintained country estates outside of the crowded metropolis for millennia. Wealthy Americans began imitating English country estates following the Revolution when cities like Philadelphia and Boston grew in population and density. While these spaces were definitely out of reach for all except the upper class, by the nineteenth…

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