This title is part of BHA's Jim Posewitz Digital Library: Required Reading for Conservationists
Every book's reading starts with a set of expectations and hopes. I picked up a copy of The Lochsa Story because it took place nearly in my backyard, a place I spend more time than any other; my hope was to learn a little more about my favorite wild country – the one I hope to one day have my ashes scattered in. It seemed almost required that I read it. But what I ended up gaining from the book far surpassed the dry history lesson I had expected.
Through the lens of Bud Moore, who grew up and spent his life in the land of the Lochsa and the adjoining Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, The Lochsa Story brings us this history of a rugged region that that is subtly entwined in some of our nation’s most important history. Moore was a Forest Service ranger – and not accomplished author; Could he really do this place justice? I expected dry history. But, from Lewis and Clark to Chief Joseph, to the early trappers, hunters and the blossoming U.S. Forest Service rangers, the historical accounts in the Lochsa Story, woven with the author’s own personal accounts from the last grizzly bears to deadly wildfires, were beyond captivating.
But what makes The Lochsa Story required reading is not the historical accounts of a place but his land ethic that emerges throughout, which is on par with the greatest conservation minds of the era:
“After long reflection on my own experiences in a lifetime of work with the public's lands, I have to say that I’ve never seen an intrusion of humankind and high-impact technology improve the productivity of multiple values in any natural place. Improvement of one or two values is often achieved but always at the expense of several other resources that had been thriving naturally before 'development' took hold of the land.”
continued … “Those entries, including their associated impacts on land and resources, should not be considered a triumph of mankind over nature. If properly conducted, they should be viewed as a partnership with nature where understanding of and respect for the functioning natural systems should underlie every management decision and action.”
If you don’t read The Lochsa Story for the history, read it for the conservation lessons. Bud Moore’s reflections on conservation come from intimate personal experience; he was part of both the good and the bad, and possessed a rare ability to reflect critically on his own impacts on the land he loved … something we would all do well to learn from.
-ZACK WILLIAMS, Backcountry Journal editor
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