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A Shadow and a Song: The Struggle to Save Endangered Species

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The sparrow, like the spotted owl of the Pacific Northwest, was the victim—the innocent bystander—of an intense human struggle between those who advocate growth and jobs at any cost and those who insist that each life form that is endangered be protected.

This is the story of how the Endangered Species Act failed a small songbird, the dusky seaside sparrow. The sparrow's only habitat lay in the path of the Kennedy Space Center, not far from ...

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Overview

The sparrow, like the spotted owl of the Pacific Northwest, was the victim—the innocent bystander—of an intense human struggle between those who advocate growth and jobs at any cost and those who insist that each life form that is endangered be protected.

This is the story of how the Endangered Species Act failed a small songbird, the dusky seaside sparrow. The sparrow's only habitat lay in the path of the Kennedy Space Center, not far from Disney World.

Mark Walters' moving narrative describes how the social and political forces of an era forced irrevocable and profound changes in the environment of Brevard County, Florida, and brought about the extinction of a small bird.

Walters begins his story in the late 1950s, before Cape Canaveral was renamed the Kennedy Space Center. Against the backdrop of Merritt Island and the marshlands along the Indian, Banana, and St. Johns rivers—the only places on the planet where the sparrow thrived—he chronicles the struggles of many different personalities, strong-minded individuals whose lives and personal fates become inextricably entwined with those of the dusky. The cast of characters includes the head of Brevard County Mosquito Control, bureaucrats and rangers with U.S. Fish & Wildlife, NASA administrators, real estate developers, ranchers, highway engineers, egg collectors, conservationists, and finally, Disney World itself, home of the last duskies and their hybrid offspring.

The sparrow, like the spotted owl of the Pacific Northwest, was the victim—the innocent bystander—of an intense human struggle between those who advocate growth and jobs at any cost and those who insist that each life form that is endangered be protected at any cost, and few, if any, winners in the end.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This wise and careful book is about two things. First, one small and engaging part of God's creation, the dusky seaside sparrow. Second, our desire for 'development,' for vacation homes without mosquitoes, for ducks to hunt, and even for a trip to the moon. The bird is no more, but thanks to Mark Walters it leaves behind a powerful testimony." —Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781933392561
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
  • Publication date: 3/7/2007
  • Series: Chelsea Green Classics Series
  • Pages: 238
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Jerome Walters is trained in veterinary medicine and journalism. He writes frequently about the connections among ecology and health and is a contributing editor to Orion Magazine. Walters is a Professor of Journalism at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. His worked has appeared in Audubon, Reader's Digest and other publications. He lives on Florida's Gulf coast with his wife and their two children.

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Table of Contents


Prologue     xiii
An Island Between Two Rivers     1
The Sparrow     11
Apollo on the Moon     18
Mosquitoes     31
If Only     48
Endangered     53
The Man on Horseback     66
Road to Nowhere     82
Cities in the St. Johns     89
Brevard County Revisited     94
Refuge     97
Wildfires     102
Collusion     108
Recovery Team     114
The Decision     122
Last Gasp     126
The Last Wild Dusky     131
To Recreate a Sparrow     137
Bureaucracy     153
Magic Kingdom     160
Final Rest     166
A Special Kind of Deprivation     174
Eternal Moment     179
Broken Images     184
Epilogue     193
Notes     199
Bibliography     225
Index     233
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