Saving Forest Ecosystems: A Century Plus of Research and Education at the University of Washington

 

Theodore Hoss

Senior, ESRM Program

School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

University of Washington

Rating 5/5

 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, especially as a student who is now finishing my last quarter in the School of Environmental and Forestry Sciences. I feel that being able to have access to such a well compiled history of this program is an unusual and important resource. It allows those like myself who are new to SEFS to better understand and appreciate every aspect of the history of the school.

This book can help create a sense of place within UW for those who are members of the Environmental Science and Forestry community here on the campus. Its thorough attention to the people and events that make the school what it is today can answer simple questions of fancy like “why is this building called Winkenwerder?”, but can also be applied to larger scale national and global events through history, such as in the case of the development of the Northwest Forest Plan and division of the College of Forest Resources into the browns and the greens. In this way the book can teach us as readers far more than the simple history of a program at the University of Washington, it can help promote holistic understanding of the Environmental movement, and forestry practices both in Washington and abroad. It can serve as a reminder of the pace of change on the scale of mankind, of the felling of ancient stands of forest in less than 3 generations, or the development of UW from a small frontier institution to a major University of over 45,000 in less than 150 years. I feel highly enriched by the information and insights it contained.

 

The book was well-written. Even portions which sound at face value to be a bit tedious (like the section on accreditation of curricula), were in fact written in such a manner that the subjects were engaging and continued holding the audience captivated. I like the personal insights of the author and the humorous stories included wherever there was one to be told, as well as the thoroughness and breadth of information covered.

 

My favorite portion was Chapter 2, which provided context for the College of Forestry and a well written overview of forestry in Washington. I also enjoyed Chapter 10 on the campus buildings connected to the program. They stand as tangible reminders of the history of the school, and it was fascinating to learn more of their origin and the scope of change they have seen. I also note on page 72 a single section regarding the battle for Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite National Park. I greatly enjoyed the inclusion of the portion on Muir and Pinchot and their story of animosity towards one another. I also feel that there are great parallels between the conflict over Yosemite’s water and that of the protection of forests here in Washington, economics vs environment, progress vs preservation, it was a well-placed connection that seems as if it could be noted more in the book! I also believe that the story might be slightly misrepresented in this work however in that Hetch Hetchy was already protected by Yosemite National Park at the time it was handed over to the city San Francisco, therefore it would be more accurate to say that Muir wanted to preserve the sanctity of the National Parks as a place of preservation rather than that he wished for it to be a part of the park. I enjoyed the small passages like this one which related events here in Seattle to those in the wider world.

 

The work was remarkably thorough in its scope, and I was not aware of a tenth of the information included prior to reading this material. It is little wonder that I cannot think of any subject related to the material that is not included. However, for future editions some of the material could be updated. For example, the Brockman Memorial Tree Tour has been updated (my capstone project).

 

I would that recommend that SEFS undergrads read it. They would benefit greatly from a better understanding of the history of their program, as well as forestry and environmentalism as well.

November 1, 2021