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Wild and Rare

Wild and Rare

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Tracking Endangered Species in the Upper Midwest

Author Adam Regn Arvidson

Minnesota Historical Society Press (March 15, 2018)

Compelling stories of Minnesota’s endangered species, the landscapes that nurture them, and the people who are discovering their secrets.


What can endangered species tell us about our part of the world? What can they tell us about us?

The elusive Canada lynx bears kittens in Minnesota’s northeastern woods. In the far southeastern part of the state, the succulent Leedy’s roseroot clings to cold cliffs. On the northwestern grasslands, the western prairie fringed orchid grows only on ancient glacial beach ridges. In the rivers of the Twin Cities metro area, the snuffbox mussel snaps on a fish’s nose to give its larvae a temporary home. These species and fifteen others living in Minnesota are on the federal Endangered Species List.

Adam Regn Arvidson, a talented science reporter and genial guide, uncovers the stories of these plants and animals, providing compelling views of the state’s northern pine forest, deciduous forest, and prairie landscapes. Readers learn how beach driving in Texas affects Minnesota’s northernmost bird; how ranchers feel about prairie minnows; how urban runoff affects rivers and therefore mussels; how the wolf ended up in court. Scientists, orchid-hounds, lawyers, and nature lovers weigh in on the value and benefit of rare species—and their right to exist.

This book is an entertaining and educational journey through Minnesota’s diverse landscapes, one wild and rare inhabitant at a time.

Author information

Adam Regn Arvidson is a nonfiction writer and landscape architect living in Minneapolis. His work has appeared in publications ranging from Landscape Architecture Magazine to the Utne Reader to flyway: journal of writing and the environment. In 2009 he was awarded the Bradford Williams Medal for excellence in writing about landscape architecture. He has served as an editor for several publications and is the author of Greening the Landscape: Strategies for Environmentally Sound Practice.

Reviews and news

Star Tribune

Star Tribune's Wingnut blog

Prairie Pulse

Prairie Public Radio

WPR-Central Time


Park Rapids Enterprise

BookRiot's For Real Podcast (at 25:25 mark)

Q& A with Adam Regn Arvidson on

"This is an exemplary piece of nature writing . . . " Choice Connect

Advance Praise:

“One of our jobs in this hard moment for the planet is to bear witness to that which lives alongside us—especially those glories that seem most likely to pass in our time. This volume is a lovely example of performing that uniquely human duty faithfully.”
Bill McKibben, author of Radio Free Vermont

“Arvidson paints ten lovely portraits of species clinging to a toehold in Minnesota. His scientific explanation is lucid, his use of language is exquisite, and when he readjusts his focus to give readers the big picture, he is eloquent and wise.”
Sue Leaf, author of Portage: A Family, a Canoe, and the Search for the Good Life

“You don’t need to be a Minnesota native or resident to appreciate this quirky and often beautiful quest to see—and know—every endangered species in the state. From iconic wolves to something called the ‘winged mapleleaf’ (and, no, it’s not a plant), this book takes you across landscapes, eons, and emotions as it ground-truths what our relationships to the wild and rare really mean. You’ll meet a lot of dedicated, sometimes eccentric biologists whose work quietly helps keep this world together. You’ll meet Adam Arvidson, too, a welcome guide to the Upper Midwest’s strength, beauty, and fragility. His voice—and memories—compass this delightful and necessary collection of essays.”
Christopher Cokinos, author of Hope Is the Thing with Feathers: A Personal Chronicle of Vanished Birds

“Adam Arvidson writes a complicated story with clarity, beautiful language, and a personal touch that invites the reader to travel with him.”
Kathleen Weflen, editor emerita, Minnesota Conservation Volunteer

  • 320 pages
  • 10 b&w illustrations, 15 b&w photos
  • 6x9 inches
  • ISBN: 9781681340876

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