Submitted by Terry Domico
Terry Domico has been a resident of San Juan Island for more than 40 years and has published a new book about “one heck of a story.”
“The Great Cactus War” makes its official debut at the San Juan Public Library at 7 p.m., Friday, Sept.7. The presentation will include a short historical movie and slideshow.
A lifelong naturalist and conservation biologist, Domico has authored internationally-published books about bears, kangaroos, wild edible plants, Borneo, Tasmanian tigers and of the sensitive natural areas of our island paradise.
During a trip to Australia in the 1990s, Domico spoke to a retired farmer who offhandedly remarked that he had survived a plague of prickly-pear cactus that had been so incredibly severe that it drove thousands of rural people out of their homes and off the land. The cactus had seized within its spiny grip a region larger than Italy, and for decades it had taken control of Australia’s best farming and dairy lands.
Intrigued, Domico looked for a book to read that would tell him more about this vegetable menace and how it was finally beaten. There were none. So he began searching the internet, where he found brief mentions of the cactus plague here and there in old newspapers and magazines, but still nothing substantial.
Eventually, what he did discover was an amazing storyline that took him over five years to fully research. One piece of intriguing information led to another, eventually sending Domico on a 40,000-mile-long journey that took him to six countries, allowed him to amass nearly 110,000 pages of documents, make over 12,000 photographs, and record over 300 hours of interviews. Along the way, he had help in his quest from many new friends.
Now, more than seven and a half years after Domico started this odyssey, his newest book has been published.