Tuesday, July 28th: Nature. Stephen F. Arno and Carl E. Fiedler read and display images from their new book Ponderosa: People, Fire, and the West's Most Iconic Tree. 7 p.m.
The West’s vast ponderosa pine forest has been home to people for thousands of years. Ponderosa from distant mountains provided timbers for the ancient pueblos of the Southwest. Nomadic Native Americans often wintered among the large pines and peeled bark for food in spring. Pioneers on horseback extolled the giant pines and grassy glades of yesterday’s forest. Ponderosa timber was used to build Gold Rush-era flumes, sluice boxes, and mine shafts, as well as ties and trestles for the transcontinental railroad. That historic forest is mostly gone now, and a different forest has taken its place. Heavy early logging and successful fire suppression have transformed yesterday’s forest into a forest overgrown with smaller trees, shredded by bark beetles and ravaged by wildfires. But this new forest is at great risk, and that is the story of this book. Authors Carl E. Fiedler and Stephen F. Arno recount the history of humans among the ponderosa pines, the historical role of fire, how and why the forest has changed, and what people can do to restore the forest to its former glory. A richly illustrated guide at the back of the book features 64 ponderosa places scattered across the West, from dwarf pines growing in solid rock to towering trees in moist valleys.
Stephen F. Arno obtained a PhD in forestry and plant science from the University of Montana in 1970. He was a research forester with the USDA Fire Sciences Laboratory in Missoula, Montana, before retiring in 1999. He has practiced restoration forestry on his family’s ponderosa pine forest for more than 40 years and has written several books related to trees and forests. A committed denizen of the forest, he enjoys the long process of harvesting firewood and using it to heat the family home.
Carl E. Fiedler earned a PhD in forestry from the University of Minnesota. He worked as a research professor of forest management at the University of Montana for 25 years before retiring in 2007. During summers, he presented short courses on ponderosa pine management, fire, and restoration forestry throughout the West. He lives in Missoula, Montana. For him, nothing beats fishing with his brother Dave on one of Montana’s many legendary trout streams.