Stronghold: One Man’s Quest to Save the World’s Wild Salmon

Spiegel & Grau. Jul. 2019. 368p. illus. maps. ISBN 9781984801692. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781984801708. NAT HIST
In this biography of her cousin Guido Rahr, novelist Malarkey (Resurrection) traces how a boy obsessed with reptiles, fly-fishing, and the wilderness evolved into a defender of salmon habitats, eventually becoming president of the Wild Salmon Center (WSC) in Portland, OR. Rahr believes that the most effective way to safeguard salmon survival is to preserve river systems, and under his direction the WSD has gained protected status for the most robust salmon rivers remaining in the Pacific Northwest and in Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula—a “salmon Eden.” To save Kamchatka’s magnificent watershed from development, pipelines, and poaching, Rahr explored a number of its uncharted rivers while evading bears, maneuvering massive logjams, and fly-fishing for enormous Siberian taimen. Malarkey highlights Rahr’s special talent for getting the right people (i.e., moneyed and/or influential) interested in salmon habitat protection and documents how his aggressive networking skills and out-of-the-box thinking have paid off for salmon.
VERDICT This fascinating account of Rahr’s crusade to get a multinational salmon conservation effort off the ground will be an enjoyable read for those interested in wilderness conservation and salmon ecology.

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