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Photographer Quits Movie Industry, Makes Book About National Parks

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After eight and a half years of nine-to-five work and three Spiderman franchises, Ian Shive had enough. Like most us, we all wish we could just grab a camera and travel to earn a living. But like most of us, we don't. Shive is the exception.

Last week at TreePeople, he introduced his first photography book on the National Parks. Shive, who has done work for the Second Century Commission, on U.S.-Mexico border conservation efforts and other in-depth environmental photorgraphy, says this book has more of a soft conservation message. "It's not an overbearing message, it's not something that's saying 'save this, do that, it's going to be gone if you don't do something about it,'" he said. And that's true, photographs he shows in The National Parks: Our American Landscape are beautiful and inspiring (see a selection from the book above). For those who have lost their connection to nature, this brings it back.

Still, the message of National Parks should ring the need for conservation to all of us. "They were the first time in history of man that a piece of land was put aside for future generations," explained Shive. "The very idea of conservation was born in National Parks... the modern conservation movement runs from there."

For example, Los Angeles and the Santa Monica National Recreation Area, which is touted as the nation's largest national park, is within one of the seven Mediterranean biomes in the world. That means global warming's effects are felt here first. Further east in Joshua Tree National Park, scientists believe joshua trees could be gone within 100 years.

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In the book, the only place Shive brings the conservation message a little more to the forefront are with the island foxes found in Channel Islands National Park. A series of events starting with chemical sewage dumping off the coast of Palos Verdes nearly wiped out the now-endangered (and severely cute) fox populations in the park. Thanks to conservation efforts, the populations are increasing and if you ever camp on some of the islands, you will definitely see plenty of them. And that surely brings a smile to Shive.