Tuesday, July 17 , 2018, 1:42 am | Overcast 66º


UCSB Reads Selects ‘The Big Burn,’ Chronicling Formation of Forest Service

In 1910, a wildfire raged across national forests in northeast Washington, northern Idaho and western Montana. Over two days, flames scorched roughly 3 million acres.

Tim Egan
Timothy Egan (Barry Wong photo)

The Big Burn, as it was known, eventually led conservation pioneers Theodore Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot, chief forester, to consider the notion of public land as a national treasure, owned by and preserved for every citizen.

In his book, The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Timothy Egan uses the wildfire as a backdrop against which he chronicles the social, cultural and political history that led to the formation of the U.S. Forest Service.

The UC Santa Barbara Library has chosen the book as this year’s selection for UCSB Reads. Using The Big Burn as a starting point, the university aims to engage readers in intellectually stimulating dialogue about issues of significant local and national interest, including conservation, wildfire management and the politics of environmentalism.

The book was selected in conjunction with the Bren School’s Strategic Environmental Research Initiative on Wildfire and Climate Change, which is bringing faculty together from various disciplines to generate new approaches to fire management.

An annual winter quarter event, UCSB Reads engages the campus and the Santa Barbara community in conversations about a key topic while reading the same book. UCSB Reads is presented by the UCSB Library, in partnership with the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor. A committee that included faculty and staff members, administrators, and student representatives made this year’s selection.

Beginning at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15, Chancellor Henry Yang and university librarian Denise Stephens will be on hand at the UCSB Library to distribute free copies of the book to registered UCSB students. Associated Students has, in part, funded the book distribution. The Big Burn is also on sale at the UCSB Bookstore.

The Big Burn is also the selection of the Santa Barbra Public Library System’s winter Santa Barbara Reads program. The event runs concurrently with UCSB Reads, as it has for the last seven years, with events at library branches. Multiple copies of The Big Burn are available for loan, including e-book and audiobook versions. The Santa Barbara Public Library also offers “Book Club in a Bag” kits, which feature 10 copies of the book and a set of reader questions geared toward book club participants. The Luria Library at Santa Barbara City College, and the Westmont College Library are also partners in the program.

A variety of UCSB Reads events, including faculty panels, book discussions and exhibits, will take place throughout the quarter, both on campus and at local public libraries. All free and open to the public, these will culminate in a public talk by the author on March 4 in UCSB’s Campbell Hall.

For more information about UCSB Reads, contact Rebecca Metzger, assistant university librarian for outreach and academic collaboration, at 805.893.2674 or [email protected]. A complete list of upcoming UCSB Reads activities is available online by clicking here.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >