ABOUT STEPHEN GRACE
I am a professional naturalist based in the Pacific Northwest. I work as a science and natural history educator, lead tours ranging from tidepooling to rainforest hikes, and participate in seabird and sea mammal research. I spend every moment I can outdoors exploring, learning, and sharing my enthusiasm for the natural world with others.
I am the author of many books on a variety of topics, including urban development, historical cartography, sustainable food, and river conservation.
I studied novel writing with Stratis Haviaras, founding editor of Harvard Review, while caretaking a house in Boston where the poet T. S. Eliot lived. After Under Cottonwoods, my debut novel, was published I moved to a trailer park in Wyoming in the wake of the Matthew Shepard murder and developed an outdoor adventure program for at-risk youth while researching another novel.
To publish a book about the historical cartography of Colorado, I collaborated with Library of Congress curators and Vincent Virga, called "America's foremost picture editor." To research Shanghai, a narrative nonfiction book about the human and environmental costs of China's meteoric rise, I photographed skyscrapers in megacities and went trail running in Tibet.
To write Dam Nation: How Water Shaped the West and Will Determine Its Future, I followed rivers west of the 100th meridian and charted currents throughout the region's history. I served as a consultant for the award-winning film DamNation, and I was an associate producer and the screenwriter for The Great Divide, a film about western water conflicts that was nominated for an Emmy Award and won a Silver Telly Award. I also authored The Great Divide, a companion book to the film.
While writing Grow: Stories from the Urban Food Movement, winner of the 2016 Colorado Book Award for Creative Nonfiction, I worked on a repurposed garbage truck in the alleyways of Denver and volunteered on a farm in Uganda. To write Oil and Water I teamed up with an oilman to tell the story of the Upper Colorado River, a resource under siege. Both Grow and Oil and Water were included by High Country News in a list of "15 books every well-versed Westerner should read."
Other topics I've written about include atomic clocks, philanthropy in Africa, the environmental consequences of using peat moss as a soil amendment, and paddleboarding with whales.
My photographs of China and the American West have been featured in three books. My lens is now focused on the Northwest Coast.
In 2016, Haystack Rock Awareness Program presented me with an Outstanding Service Award for teaching marine biology and intertidal ecology. The intertidal tours I led at Cannon Beach, Oregon, included everyone from kindergartners to college professors. I taught groups ranging from families of three to school classes of more than one hundred. I guided individuals and groups from NPR Science Friday, NOAA Sea Grant, Road Scholar, Allen Institute for Cell Science, Master Naturalists, Native Content Production Company, French American International School, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Portland State University, and Oregon State University Graduate School of Ocean, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences.
I am now based in Port Townsend, Washington, where I'm working as a naturalist and science educator aboard historic ships and leading an effort to preserve the Quimper Lost Wilderness, one of the last stands of old-growth rainshadow forest on the Olympic Peninsula. In the spring of 2021, I was named "Amazing Conservation Advocate of the Year" by the Olympic Peninsula Chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society.
Here's a natural history essay I published during the pandemic: Birding in a Time of Plague. Here's a podcast I did about puffins: Nature Now. And here's an essay I published recently about one of my conservation mentors: Remembering Jerry Gorsline. I'm currently writing a series of books about the past, present and future of life on Earth.
In the summer and fall of 2021 I will be leading biking tours for Grasshopper Adventures. Join me on one of these multi-active outdoor adventures in Alaska and Maine! I will also be working as an educator aboard Adventuress, a historic schooner.
“Grace writes with a lyrical power, celebrating the healing power of the human spirit set free in the wilds.”
—Los Angeles Times
“Grace acts as both poet of Western wilderness and a knowledgeable translator of water policy.”
—High Country News
"Grace possesses deep insight and a strong sense of place."
"[Grow] is one of those rare books that covers an important, but unsung, movement in a compelling, poignant and deeply human way."
—Big Sky Journal
"Stephen Grace's Oil and Water is the best education outreach tool we've had in the fight to save the Upper Colorado River."
—Kirk Klancke, President of the Colorado River Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited