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Sunbelt Spotlight: A Natural History of the Anza-Borrego Region

If you missed this week’s Sunbelt Spotlight with A Natural History of the Anza-Borrego Region co-author Mike Wells, you can find a link to the recording below.

Mike gave us an overview of the many topics covered in this comprehensive volume, with specific examples from the region. “What is a desert?” “What was the region like during the Ice Age?” “How do animals and plants survive desert conditions?” You can find answers to those questions and more in this talk and the book!

The book evolved from a course on the natural history of the Anza-Borrego region that was developed by the authors over a 16-year period and taught at the University of San Diego. It tells a coherent story of how the landscape and features of a desert region evolved over time and how organisms that inhabit the desert have adapted to the conditions found there by taking many different evolutionary paths to deal with aridity, heat, and saline soils. The result is an amazing biological diversity that has evolved in response to these conditions.

A Natural History of the Anza-Borrego Region is encyclopedic in detail and is yet very readable. Each illustration was handcrafted to tell a story and to help the reader better understand the fascinating story of this unique desert place and its first human inhabitants. This is the “go-to” book for anyone wanting to understand the natural environment of the Anza-Borrego region.

Order the Book Here

Mike Wells completed a 34-year career with California State Parks in 2010. His first permanent assignment in 1977 was Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, where he served as a state park ranger. Over the next three decades he enjoyed assignments in the Sierra Nevada foothills, coastal redwoods, and beaches, serving as a ranger, resource ecologist, and park superintendent. His final assignment was district superintendent of the Colorado Desert District, which includes ABDSP. Mike has a PhD in physical geography from a joint program with San Diego State University and the University of California, Santa Barbara. His area of study is fire ecology of southern California forest and chaparral communities. He was a lecturer for the Department of Biology, University of San Diego, from 2001–2017

Season’s Greetings

We wish you happy holidays and look forward to a New Year that is filled with health and happiness. We so appreciate everyone who has continued to support Sunbelt Publications during this very difficult pandemic. It has been a year filled with changes. In person events were moved online through programs like Zoom. We have adjusted to this “new normal” by starting our Sunbelt Spotlight series, intimate sessions with your favorite authors. One benefit to hosting events online is that they can be recorded and made available for folks to watch at a later date. Spotlight recordings can be viewed on our Facebook page:

It was also a year that saw the publication of California Indian Basketry: Ikons of the Florescence, a book that has been in production for over three years. Most books are birthed in nine months from editing, to design, to printing. This book had a gestation period almost twice that of the gestation period of an African elephant (645 days). We are very happy that the long labor of this magnificent book is finally over and that we will begin shipping orders in December.

Another blessing has been our very own customers and associated friends that stepped forward during Covid-19 to help fund the publication of our latest book in the Sunbelt Color & Learn series: Coloring Southern California Butterflies & Caterpillars by Bill Howell, instructor extraordinaire for the San Diego Natural History Museum Canyoneers and Mission Trails Regional Park Trail Guides. Bill is graciously donating his royalties to the SDNHM, just as Wendy Esterly and Brad Hollingsworth have done for their books: Coloring Southern California Birds and Coloring Lizards, Snakes, & More Southern California.

We are really looking forward to retail stores, museums, and visitor centers opening with a more normal business situation. Our hearts go out to all those suffering and impacted by Covid-19. We wish everyone a healthy and better year ahead.

Diana Lindsay, President
Sunbelt Publications

Early Jewish Celebrations in San Diego County

For this  “Throwback Thursday” we’re featuring our Sunbelt Spotlight with Donald Harrison that originally streamed back in September. He shared with us some of the early records of Jewish celebrations in San Diego county.


New Book a Tribute to Native California Basketweavers

San Diego, CA—A monumental new publication honoring artisans and their masterpiece baskets—California Indian Basketry: Ikons of the Florescence—will be released this December after five years in production. Authors Wayne A. Thompson and Eugene S. Meieran bring together the exquisite baskets and their creators in a reverent tribute to these master artisans. These are the same baskets that have drawn the attention of collectors and museums throughout the United States and are highly prized today. For the first time these baskets have been matched to the artisans and their stories are told in this richly illustrated, photographic overview that captures the beauty and artistry of the remarkable world-class Native American Indian baskets of California.

Collecting highly complex and artistic Native American baskets became a successful tourist business in the late 19th and early 20th century when tourism exploded as a result of the expansion of the railway system to hitherto relatively inaccessible locations. This new business benefitted both collectors of this art form and the weavers who created them. The focus of this book are the weavers and their baskets from this time period, circa 1895 to 1940, known as Florescence or Flowering.

Terry DeWald, Native American art dealer, calls the book, “A definitively well-researched and documented examination of the greatest baskets and weavers of Native America. The incredible photos which link these seminal classic baskets with their dexterous and talented weavers are invaluable.” He continues, “The biographies of the artists and the fascinating images of the historic basket competitions shine light on an era that we’ll never witness again.”

The book will be available in three formats, softcover, hardcover, and a deluxe collector’s edition. The deluxe edition will feature a beautiful and protective clamshell box and will be sold through museum gift shops, independent retailers, and directly from the publisher.

California Indian Basketry: Ikons of the Florescence
ISBN: 978-1-941384-52-7 (SC), 978-1-941384-51-0 (HC), 978-1-941384-58-9 (Deluxe Edition)
Retail price: $49.95 (SC), $99.95 (HC), $299.95 (Deluxe Edition)
Author: Wayne A. Thompson, Eugene S. Meieran
Editor: Alan P. Garfinkel
Publisher: Sunbelt Publications, Inc.
Publication date: December 2020

Now available to pre-order with 20% pre-publication discount!

Get a sneak peek at the book in the video below!

Sunbelt Spotlight: Baja’s Wild Side with Daniel Cartamil

In this Sunbelt Spotlight lecture, Daniel Cartamil shares the origins of his book, Baja’s Wild Side with the audience. The journey begins with shark research in the region. As Daniel explored and photographed more and more of Baja California, a book filled with breathtaking images of remote landscapes, wildlife, and cultural treasures emerged. During this talk, it was announced that a Part Two is in the works! Check it all out in the video below.

California’s First Independence Day with Iris Engstrand

Did you know California’s first Independence Day is actually in September? California was still under Spanish rule when Mexico won their independence. This long battle for independence began on September 16th, 1810 and ended September 27th, 1821.

In the video below, historian and author Iris Engstrand shares with us the ups and downs of the independence movement and how this impacted California in the following years. Hear stories of early San Diegans from the Mexican period and more!

Succulent Dish Garden Demo and Solana Succulents Nursery Tour with Jeff Moore

On his Sunbelt Spotlight, Jeff Moore showed us around part of his retail nursery, Solana Succulents, and demonstrated how to create not just one, but two succulent dish gardens, all while sharing his wealth of knowledge about succulent plants and the hobby.

Solana Succulents is located at  355 N. Hwy 101, Solana Beach, CA. 92075. It is open Monday and Tuesday by appointment only, Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, and Sunday from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm.

Coast to Cactus and the SDNHM Canyoneers with Diana Lindsay and Jim Varnell

Last week on our Sunbelt Spotlight, we talked to Diana Lindsay and Jim Varnell about how the San Diego Natural History Museum Canyoneers have adjusted their programming due to the pandemic, who they are, and how you can get involved. The recording is available to view below.

This fall, the Canyoneer hike program has moved online. Each season, they will be posting 10 hikes that you can tackle at your leisure on their website. Each hike has been given its own page with the distance, a difficulty rating, map, a written description, and information about what you might see on the trail. They also provide links to the website of the organization that manages each trail so you can check to see if the trail is open to the public.

The Canyoneer Website

If you want access to additional trail options immediately, pick up a copy of Coast to Cactus: The Canyoneer Trail Guide to San Diego OutdoorsThe guide has 250 hikes, each with its own map and photograph, hike description with mileage, elevation gain/loss, difficulty rating, directions to the trailhead with GPS, trail use, special features, and type of habitat(s) found on each hike. Each hike has a focus on a species or natural/cultural history feature associated with that hike.

Shop our Bargain Gems

Some of our best selling titles are bargain gems. If you don’t mind a cover scratch or nick, you can discover great deals browsing our shelves. Visit our warehouse to shop. We are still located in El Cajon at 1250 Fayette Street. You can also call or email if you have specific titles in mind. These shopworn copies are not available through our website. You may even find some discontinued or out of print titles!

We are open Monday through Thursday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, and by appointment any other time. Call 619-258-4911 or email to schedule.

Sunbelt Spotlight: Nature Heals During Times of Uncertainty with Richard Halsey

When was the last time you experienced the great outdoors? How did it make you feel?

Since the discovery of agriculture approximately 10,000 years ago, the time humans spend outdoors has steadily declined to less than 7%! This lack of exposure has been linked to higher cortisol levels, more irritation, more distraction, and other physiological changes.

So let’s get back outside! Be conscious of what you are doing and why to really reap the benefits. Use all your senses to be aware of your surroundings, the sounds, the smells, the sights, and even touch. Connect with the environment you live in by knowing about what lives there, animals, plants, and even your neighbors. Engage with others and help them reconnect with nature.

If you would like to learn more about this any of the ideas presented here, watch our first Sunbelt Spotlight lecture with Richard Halsey, now available to view on YouTube!

These helpful links are from the California Chaparral Institute

How to make your home more fire safe

Protecting Your Home