Tag Archives: Ron Sadler

“Best Forestry School in the Country”

A message to Dean Gale.
I thought your “Message from the Dean” in the current issue of the SFRES magazine was right on the money.

Speaking as an educator, you posed the question ”Are we providing students with the knowledge base they’ll need to address new issues that go beyond what they learned in their formal education?” My own career experience illustrates the importance of being able to do just that, and your recognition of the importance of this key issue speaks well for your program.

I had a 34 year career with the Bureau of Land Management primarily in western Oregon. Michigan Tech prepared me well for my early experiences, once I got used to the differences in scale. I still remember putting in a cluster of inventory plots in a 800-year old stand of Douglas-fir, and cruising a stand of timber on a beautiful riverside terrace that averaged 220,000 board feet per acre. But as my career evolved, I quickly got involved in issues that did indeed go far beyond my formal education.

For most of the latter half of my career, I was the BLM’s Chief of Forestry Planning with responsibilities covering 3,000,000 acres of forest land in Oregon and Washington. These responsibilities included forest inventory, the determination of the sustainable allowable harvest level and oversight of the program to bring that level of timber production to market, and the integration of the forestry program within the land-use planning process.

Early on, the process was relatively simple, and I was guided by the principles and philosophies I learned under Gene Hesterberg, Vern Johnson, and Eric Bourdo in old Hubbell School. Very quickly, however, it became necessary to “go beyond” as you suggest.

One of the first things I had to deal with in this context was the integration of management considerations related to anadromous fisheries. The spawning and rearing streams that salmon and steelhead depended upon were intimately associated with some of our finest timber producing lands. Some of the interactions between fish and timber production were quite subtle, in that relatively minute changes in water temperatures or quality, or the timing or magnitude of stream flows, could have drastic effects on fish production.

Furthermore, it quickly became apparent that the Douglas-fir old-growth seral stage itself was quickly becoming an endangered and scarce resource that needed special handling and management. Hundreds of wildlife species were uniquely dependent upon it, not to mention its importance in more esoteric areas like carbon sequestration and as refugia for mychorrizal fungi.

The point I’m trying to make is that my career quickly moved beyond the specifics I learned in my formal education, but I was able to traverse uncharted waters because of the sound knowledge base and the integrative attitude and adaptive capabilities I acquired at Michigan Tech.

That’s why it is so heartening to read your message. You’ve got the best forestry school in the country on the right trail, Peg. Keep on chuggin’.

Ron Sadler
1957


Ron Sadler – 1957

Congratulations to the Class of 1961 on their 50th anniversary!

Many of the class members followed the trail first blazed by the Class of ’57 to work for the Bureau of Land Management in Western Oregon.  There may have been others, but the ones I’m personally familiar with include Leon Kabat, Elaine Mosher, Sarge Preston, Fred Pastori, and George Walimaa.

I spent 11 years as the BLM’s Chief of Forestry Planning.  During that time, it was my extreme good fortune to have Sarge Preston as my right-hand man.  Sarge was in charge of the forest inventory program including all aspects from field work to data analysis.  He made thousands of analytical allowable cut runs during this era when it required feeding a computer large boxes of punch cards.

The Class of ’61 provided yet another example of how well the training and professionalism received at da Tech transfered to the Douglas-fir forests of Oregon.

Ron Sadler


That Special Place

Otter River During my days at da Tech, I had my own “secret spot” down on the Otter River. I can close my eyes and visit it still, even after 53 years.Here’s an excerpt from my book, Stops Along the Way, which  I wrote several years ago describing it:

The Otter River is best described as a happy little stream. Its rapids didn’t roar, they cheerfully chortled. It didn’t resonate with power; it just hummed a pleasant tune. No need for mountain leveling heroics here, the Otter fit comfortably on the land. A little sun-warmed gravel bar here, a cool, shady stretch through the tag alders, a long, melodious riffle where it carved around the base of a balsam covered ridge.

Then there was the color of the water. The beer commercials would have you believe that Upper Michigan was part of the “land of sky-blue waters,” The Otter River was not blue. In the slower, deeper pools, it was the color of the clearest, finest tea you could imagine. Indeed, it was tea, steeped in the countless bogs that were the source of its waters. But it had clarity, without any trace of opacity. On the shallow riffles, where the water was tossed and aerated, it took on a distinct golden hue.

The Otter was almost a textbook trout stream. It had deep runs that held brook trout. There were deep, still pools with lots of woody debris where the big brown trout lay. The riffles held lively rainbow that rocketed skyward as soon as they felt the sting of the hook.

One weekend I looked ahead to where a sandbar stood high and dry, part way across the river. Even from a distance, it was obvious there were boot tracks crossing the bar. My heart sank; there was a trespasser in Eden. As I waded up to the bar, I cursed the gods for allowing this injustice. When I got there, I was pleasantly surprised. The tread pattern of the boots that made the tracks was clearly visible in a few locations, and I realized the tracks were mine made the week before. The world was right once more.

Ron Sadler
Forestry ’57