Forty Years a Forester


Forty Years a Forester

Second Edition, Annotated

Elers Koch
Edited and with an introduction by Char Miller
Foreword by John N. Maclean

246 pages
28 photographs, 4 maps, index


October 2019


$24.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

October 2019


$24.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

October 2019


$24.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Elers Koch, a key figure in the early days of the U.S. Forest Service, was among the first American-trained silviculturists, a pioneering forest manager, and a master firefighter. By horse and on foot, he helped establish the boundaries of most of our national forests in the West, designed new fire-control strategies and equipment, and served during the formative years of the agency. Forty Years a Forester, Koch’s entertaining and illuminating memoir, reveals one remarkable man’s contributions to the incipient 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.

This new, fully annotated edition of Koch’s memoir offers an unparalleled look at the Forest Service’s formative ambitions to regulate the national forests and grasslands and reminds us of the principled commitment that Koch and his peers exemplified as they built the national forest system and nurtured the essential conservation ethic that continues to guide our use of the public lands.

Author Bio

Elers Koch (1880–1954) 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 USDA Bureau of Forestry. In addition to being a major innovator in forest management, Koch was a skilled mountaineer, an outspoken wilderness advocate, and a successful novelist. Char Miller is the W. M. Keck Professor of Environmental Analysis at Pomona College and is a fellow of the Forest History Society. John Maclean is a prize-winning author of five books on wildland fire, including The Esperanza Fire: Arson, Murder, and the Agony of Engine 57.


"This volume gives a good feel for life in the back country before roads, GPS, satellite phones, and other modern inventions. It is an enjoyable read."—Stan Moore, Denver Westerners Roundup

“A classic in western forestry. Having a new edition is a gift. For those of us who live in or love visiting the northern Rockies region of the West, this volume is even more welcome, as it provides glimpses into a landscape long past and an important historical moment as the U.S. Forest Service was first getting its footing. Char Miller is equally adept at zeroing in on Koch’s life story and context and widening out to follow the evolution of conservation ideas over a century.”—Adam M. Sowards, professor of history at the University of Idaho


“Koch has an easy style, and his memoir offers an intriguing vantage point for seeing the early decades of the Forest Service. There is much here about work in the outdoors; of snowshoeing, rock-climbing, and range riding; of fires, grazing, and timber sales; and of the impact of such larger events as the First World War, the Great Depression, and the New Deal on the Forest Service.”—Mark Harvey, professor of history at North Dakota State University

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
John N. Maclean
Char Miller
1. Montana Boy
2. Gifford Pinchot’s Young Men
3. Forest Supervisor: 1907–1918
4. Forest Fires
5. The Lochsa River Fire
6. The Moose Creek Story
7. Snowshoes
8. Mountain Climbing
9. Growing Trees
10. Ranger Stories
11. The Forest Service and the New Deal
12. The Passing of the Lolo Trail

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