Returning to a former home after an extended absence often stirs rebellion against what has sprouted on familiar soil—be it a housing development or a four-lane highway. In the face of humanity’s constant expansion, two staffers from the Nature Conservancy have assembled a volume that encourages preservation. More than two years ago, editors Joseph Barbato of Alexandria and Lisa Weinerman of Arlington began assembling a small booklet for Nature Conservancy donors; the publication was to include three essays by Bill McGibben, Terry Tempest Williams, and William Least Heat-Moon. From this promising start, Barbato and Weinerman’s project blossomed into the anthology Heart of the Land: Essays on Last Great Places (Pantheon Books). The duo enlisted authors to visit sites and, as Barbato explains, “write about the area and the association they had with it.” The submissions “[look] back at places that were special, wild, and safe,” Weinerman adds. The editors found the authors eager to contribute, and Barbato says that they even “donated the rights to the material….Earnings will go to the Nature Conservancy.” Among the 31 introspective chapters are Teresa Jordan’s account of watching bison being reintroduced to the Oklahoma grasslands, and Washington’s own Joel Achenbach lamenting the loss of Virginia freshwater mussels. While the writers describe the result of human encroachment, they do not so much deplore development as they grieve for the loss of native species.