Ed Keller Makes His Book about the Natural History of Santa Barbara Freely Available


In 2011, Ed Keller, a Professor in the Department of Earth Science and the Department of Environmental Studies, as well as an Affiliated Faculty Member of the Department of Geography, wrote and privately financed a book titled Santa Barbara, Land of Dynamic Beauty: A Natural History. He dedicated the book “to the people of Santa Barbara today and the next generation who will become responsible for the land we love,” and he is now making it freely available.

As Ed puts it, “Hi Everyone– I published (with my wife Valery) a book in 2011 about the natural history of Santa Barbara with introductions about the big tectonic picture, followed by natural hazards and then a discussion in several chapters about the geography and geology of Goleta, Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, and other areas. The book sold out, and I do not plan another printing. I attach a copy, which new students and others may find informative” (the pdf is available here).

In his preface, Ed states: This book is an extension of my imagination, training, and wish to communicate the natural history of Santa Barbara where I have lived and worked for several decades. Our children were raised in Santa Barbara, and this book is dedicated to the people of Santa Barbara today and the next generation who will become responsible for the land we love.

The purpose of this book is to present the complex natural history and environment of Santa Barbara within a framework of sustainability. The book is arranged in six chapters, starting with the geologic history and natural hazards, and then arranged by locations including: Santa Barbara, Montecito, Carpinteria, La Conchita, Goleta, Ellwood, and the Santa Barbara Channel. The final chapter of the book discusses sustainability and links between Santa Barbara and the global environment.

Of particular importance are the topics of global warming, ecosystems, water supply, waste management, energy, and ecotourism. The book is written to provide a history and understanding of the Santa Barbara landscape and environment. I also discuss some of the interesting aspects of our landscape, including: the history of Mission Creek; the origin of Skofield and Rocky Nook Parks; the origin of our coastal lagoons and salt marshes; our natural hazards, especially earthquakes, landslides, and wildfire; and long-term management of land and water resources such as Goleta Beach.

Apart from his passionate dedication to community outreach, Ed is a highly respected expert in his field, often acting as a consultant or expert witness. He specializes in studies of earthquake hazards and active folding and mountain building processes, as well as the study of river processes and fish habitat in the chaparral environment in southern California. He is also a prolific writer whose works include several major textbooks (including the award-winning Environmental Science: Earth as a Living Planet, coauthored with Daniel B. Botkin), peer-reviewed scientific articles (he received the Don J. Easterbrook Distinguished Scientist award from the Geological Society of America in 2004 for one of them), and weekly articles on the subject of the “Natural History of Santa Barbara”in the Santa Barbara News Press which he has written, on and off, since 2008.

Many thanks to Ed for his generosity, and kudos and tight lines to him for making a marked difference to our appreciation of our “land of dynamic beauty,” not to mention our local trout population! Ed loves explaining the former and “educating” the latter, and he’s not about to stop. It has been an honor and a privilege to have been his editor (and gillie) for the last few years.

Article by Bill Norrington

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Professor Ed Keller: “The author who first defined the environmental geology course” (Pearson Higher Education)

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The cover of Ed’s book, “Santa Barbara, Land of Dynamic Beauty: A Natural History,” which Ed dedicated to the local community.

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Ed and his wife, Valery. Professor Ed Keller is a UCSB Professor of Environmental Studies, Earth Science, and Geography, and his weekly columns about the natural history of Santa Barbara have appeared on page 2 of the Santa Barbara News Press almost every Thursday for the last 6 years. In his words, “This column is part of the public service mission of the University, without payment from the News Press. The observations and conclusions presented in these stories are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of the University or the News Press.”

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Ed Keller doing some serious aquatic research on white sea bass (with Reg Golledge and Bill Norrington as backup), 2009.