Elers Koch: Forty Years a Forester

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9780878423781: Elers Koch: Forty Years a Forester

1998 Crown of the Continent Nature Writing Award. Elers Koch was a groundbreaking silviculturist, a pioneering forest manager, and a master firefighter in the early days of the United States Forest Service. Working as one of "Gifford Pinchot's young men," he helped to establish the boundaries of most of our national forests in the West, designed new fire-control strategies and equipment, and served through all the formative years of the agency. Forty Years a Forester, Koch's entertaining and illuminating memoir, is published here in its entirety for the first time, along with the author's controversial essay "The Passing of the Lolo Trail," an impassioned plea to embrace the principles of forest conservation. Sprinkled with personal anecdotes and family photos, Forty Years a Forester reveals one remarkable man's contributions to the then-new science of forest management and his role in building the human relationships and policies that helped make the U.S. Forest Service prior to World War II the most respected bureau in the federal government. At the same time, the book vividly describes the natural world that Koch so carefully tended. Readers will find tales of political imbroglios and personal heroism, along with a few old-fashioned campfire yarns. For forestry students, western history buffs, scholars, and lovers of a good story, these reminiscences give a detailed history of the early days of the U.S. Forest Service and provide an authoritative and very human snapshot of an important period in the growth of an American conservation ethic.

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About the Author:

Elers Koch grew up on the Montana frontier in the late 1800s. After earning a master's degree in forestry from Yale University in 1903, he joined the newly established Bureau of Forestry, which was to become the U.S. Forest Service, to which he dedicated himself until his retirement in 1944. As a forester, he founded the Savenac Nursery, at that time the largest nursery in the Forest Service, and published numerous articles in professional journals. In addition to being a major innovator in forest management and fire-control technology, Koch was an exemplary family man, a skilled mountaineer (the first to ascend Granite Peak, Montana's highest point), an outspoken wilderness advocate, and a successful novelist (The High Trail, 1953). His own adventure narratives, his scholarship regarding the Lewis and Clark expedition routes, and his knowledge of northern Rocky Mountain place-name origins served as valuable resources for contemporary novelists and historians. Writers Bernard DeVoto and Norman Maclean can be numbered among Koch's friends and admirers. DeVoto in particular was grateful to him for defining the route and campsites of Lewis and Clark during their traverse of Montana and northern Idaho. Elers Koch died in 1954.

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Elers Koch
Published by Mountain Press Publishing Company (1998)
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