Media Life: New park ranger book penned by Auburn author

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Auburn State Park Ranger Mike Lynch is back with another book on a favorite subject of his. The new book details the history of California’s state park rangers. A 35-year veteran of the State Parks Department, Lynch is currently serving as acting supervisor for the Auburn State Recreation Area. He’s worked in the recreation area in the canyon near Auburn for more than three decades. Lynch has appeared in books both as a subject and author. When Jordan Fisher Smith’s “Nature Noir” came out four years ago, it wasn’t too hard for Auburn-savvy readers to figure out that the ranger named “Dave Finch” who played a role in many of the stories surrounding the American River Canyon was actually Lynch. On the other end of the word processor, Lynch is the author or co-author in his own right of four books, starting with 1996’s “Rangers of California’s State Parks” and including 2004’s “Auburn Images,” 2005’s “Insignia of the California Resources Agency” and “American River Canyon Hikes,” also in 2005. Lynch, known as the authority on the many and varied bridges that have spanned the north and middle forks in the vicinity of the American River confluence, has now joined a couple of other local history experts in creating fascinating books for Arcadia Publishing that feature historical images and illuminating text. Carmel Barry-Schweyer, who recently retired as Placer County archives curator, started things off in 2004 with “Mining Camps of Placer County” under the Arcadia imprint. She later penned a second book on Rocklin images. Auburn’s Arthur Sommers provided some extraordinary images from his own photo collection to produce a well-received “Auburn” book for Arcadia this year. It was so popular that Sommers found no copies available from Arcadia when he wanted some of a December book signing. The first print run had already all been spoken for. n n n VISUAL HISTORY TOUR Lynch’s book could prove as popular, but on a bigger stage. His “California State Park Rangers” provides a visual tour of the history of the men and women who have protected some treasured Golden State landmarks for more than 100 years. Lynch starts from the beginning. The first park ranger in the world was appointed in California in 1866. Galen Clark was chosen as “Guardian of Yosemite,” at what was then Yosemite State Park. From there, Lynch guides readers through chapters on everything from celebrity encounters to brushes with bad guys. There are even a few Auburn-area photos in the mix. The majority of the images come from the state park ranger anniversary photograph collection and there are more than 200 of them. Lynch has a couple of goals in keeping with the spirit of the book. He said he hopes the book will help someone to seek a career as a park ranger “with a realistic idea of what ranger work involves.” And a portion of the proceeds will be donated to a good cause – the state park anniversary committee. “California State Park Rangers” is getting a wide release at area bookstores, independent retailers and online retailers. It’s part of Arcadia’s Images of America series and goes on sale Feb. 23. n n n BLUES HONOR Placer County had its blues proudly on display Sunday for the Grammy Awards, with John Lee Hooker Jr. – a Roseville resident for the past five years – up for some hardware. He was nominated for his CD “All Odds Against Me” and lost out to the great B.B. King. Also in the running were two artists who are no strangers to Auburn stages – Elvin Bishop and Pinetop Perkins. They’ve both played the Placer SPCA’s Bar-B-Que & Blues fest at the Gold Country Fairgrounds. n n n PARK PARTY PREVIEW Party in the Park founder Scott Holbrook is overseeing a preview Feb. 20 of one of the acts who will be onstage for the June 19 event at Regional Park. Holbrook is working with The Ridge golf course to put on an evening of opening act Kate Gaffney’s music at the New Airport Road clubhouse. Gaffney will put on a solo show. It’s set to start at about 7 p.m. and there’s a suggested $5 donation to help offset costs. Gaffney mixes a number of styles of music, including roots and folk. n n n UHLER’S THESPIAN SIDE Kirk Uhler, Granite Bay’s representative on the Placer County Board of Supervisors, is showing his acting side in a new play to be performed at Auburn’s Placer Community Theater. Uhler plays “Gary,” who is forced to complete a series of job interviews, each more hilarious than the last. Uhler, whose day job is marketing solar power systems, is comfortable with audiences outside the political milieu. He’s pinch hit for talk radio’s Tom Sullivan on KFBK and even had his own call-in show for a stretch in the 1990s on Auburn’s KAHI. As an actor, he could be seen in early Thunder Valley Casino TV ads as a face in a crowd. That was before he was re-appointed to the board. The play is called “The Interviews” and was written by Brian Jagger, who just happens to be Uhler’s district director. The rest of the cast of 12 is a combination of familiar faces to Placer Community Theater audiences and some newcomers. Performances are at 8 on Friday and Saturday evenings from Feb. 27 to March 7. There are also 2 p.m. matinees March 1 and March 7. Admission is $18. Students and seniors are $15. The matinees are also $15. Dessert and beverages are included with the ticket. The venue is Theatre Pamelot, 540 Wall St., in Auburn. Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at