Chuck Johnson, Fairbanks, AK, is the winner!
Elers Koch is the answer for Week 326 of Orofino History Trivia a special feature to celebrate the history and heritage of Clearwater Country.
Join in the discovery!
Monday: An expert in white pine silviculture
Tuesday: Played an important role in fighting the great fire of 1910
Wednesday: Born in Bozeman, MT
Thursday: Published three articles about the Lolo Trail
Friday: Graduated from Montana State College and then earned a Master of Science degree from Yale
Saturday: Was Assistant Northern Regional Forester out of Missoula, MT when he retired
Elers Koch was born in Bozeman, MT, in 1880 and as a young graduate of Montana State College he met Gifford Pinchot. Acording to In Nez Perce Country: Accounts of the Bitterroots and the Clearwater after Lewis and Clark, this led him to earn a masters degree at Yale University in 1903. He immediately joined the Bureau of Forestry that became the U.S. Forest Service.
In 1906, he became the supervisor of the combined Bitterroot, Lolo and Missoula National Forests. Koch became the Assistant Northern Regional Forester in 1921. He had a rich career in the USFS. He was an expert in silviculture of white pine and a pioneer in tree nursery work. He played a major role in fighting the fires of 1910 and wrote the first serious history of the event. He also helped formulate fire fighting policy after 1930. He was a famed hiker and expert with snowshoes.
Koch was friends with a number of early writers, photographers and historians of the time. Those interests and associations, in addition to his work in fire management frequently took him to the Lolo Trail country. He spent a quarter of a century researching the history of the Lolo Trail country and often taught and lectured about that history, along with writing three articles about the area which have lasting value. Some of his writings were not popular with the Forest Service of the 1930s because they questioned the value of the permament roads being built by the Civilian Conservation Corp in the Lolo area and whether fire fighting on the steep dry slopes of the Selway and Lochsa were even worthwhile. He felt they were not. That didn't do anything to advance his career.
One of his articles "Lewis and Clark Route Retraced Across the Bitterroots" was publshed by the Oregon Historical Quarterly and summarized his lifetime of field work on the Lolo Trail. It gives a detailed account of routes and camps, including a map.
Koch retired in 1944 as Assistant Northern Regional Forester.
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