Water, Earth, Fire: Louisiana’s Natural Heritage

2008, Dr. Paul A. Keddy

Louisiana is one of the most beautiful parts of North America. It offers much more than Mardi Gras and Bourbon Street. With 25 maps and 60 illustrations, this is the first book to introduce the full range of wild places in Louisiana.

Certainly the state’s magnificent swamps are described, but Louisiana showcases a great diversity of natural habitats— prairies, longleaf pine savannas, oak forests, Appalachian forest, river valleys, cliffs, sand dunes, and cheniers.  Each has its distinctive plant and animal species.  Frogs living in trees, fish digging burrows, pelicans nesting on offshore islands and plants eating insects, as well as wild orchids, dwarf palmettos, armadillos, and … much much more.

Some of my favorite places to visit are highlighted and I describe the challenge of conserving wild places for the enjoyment of future generations. The book is titled for the water that carries the earth that builds Louisiana, and the fires that create the prairies, pine forests, and savannas.  


“This is an impressive guide to the magical and bountiful world of Louisiana nature, and an excellent primer in why we should save it — not only for the sake of pelicans and woodpeckers and tupelos, but for the sake of ourselves.”

Michael Grunwald, author of The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida and the Politics of Paradise

“Dr. Keddy captures what truly is the best about Louisiana-its many and varied natural habitats. Dr. Keddy is more than a gifted scientist.  He takes the science out of science.  He describes complex processes in terms that are easy to understand, enlightening, and enjoyable.  From the rolling pine forest to cypress swamps to barrier islands; from birds to bugs to bears; from frogs to fish, Dr. Keddy covers all that makes Louisiana one of the most unique places on the good planet Earth.” 

Carlton Dufrechou, Executive Director, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation