A Life on the Land: Honoring ‘One of the Last Old-Time Rangers’
He was a true Bitterroot woodsman. From a young age he could hunt, trap and fish. He packed mules and fought fires. He built log cabins by hand. Most importantly, he understood and loved the land, and he shared his vision for holistic land management with scores of U.S. Forest Service employees, students and others.
Now Bud Moore is being honored in a most fitting way: by helping UM graduate students who share his passion for land stewardship. Moore’s children and friends recently created the William R. (Bud) and Jane Buckhouse Moore Graduate Research Endowment, which will support research in fields Bud Moore cared about, like resource conservation, systems ecology, and society and conservation.
For Bud’s daughter, Vicki Moore, this legacy fits with her father’s practice of reaching out to students, community groups and landowners to talk about land ecology — what she calls “doing the Bud thing.”
“He was a real strong believer in future generations,” she said.
Bud Moore’s remarkable career spanned a broad scope of changes in land management.
He was born in Florence, Montana, in 1917 and raised up Lolo Creek at a time when the road stopped at the hot springs and the Lochsa wilderness was full of trappers and mountain men.
He made it as far as eighth grade at the one-room Woodman School before the lure of the woods took over. As a teenager, he fought fires in the summer and worked trap lines in the Lochsa in the winter. Soon he joined the Forest Service full time.
It was in the mountains, at the Lochsa Lodge near Powell, where he met Jane Buckhouse. She was a Missoula native descended from one of the city’s original homesteading families. They married in 1941.
Bud became assistant ranger, then ranger, at Powell Station. He was one of the last true mountain men to achieve such a position.
After stints in Ogden, Utah, and Washington, D.C., Bud requested a transfer back to his beloved Bitterroot. He became the director of fire and aviation for Region 1, which encompasses territory in Montana, Idaho, Washington, North Dakota and South Dakota.
“When he came back, he took a certain amount of pressure for being in the mountains,” said Bill Moore, Bud’s son. “They thought the director of fire and aviation should sit at a desk in the regional office. He said, ‘You can’t manage the land without being on the land.’”
After his retirement in 1974, Bud remained heavily involved with conservation and land management education and advocacy. He wrote a book, “The Lochsa Story — Land Ethics in the Bitterroot Mountains,” and was instrumental in the creation of the Wilderness Institute at UM and the Swan Ecosystem Center, located in Condon, Montana.
The year he retired from the U.S. Forest Service he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Montana’s School of Forestry and Conservation, in recognition of his contributions to land ethics.
Throughout his later years he continued to teach, write, talk and showcase ecosystem management principles on his forest property. His children believe the breadth of his experiences gave him a unique perspective on land management.
“He could tie it clear back to the days in the Lochsa before there was logging, why something did or didn’t work out, right up until how things are going today,” Bill Moore said. “He was still engaged and available. I think that was one of the most important things he did. He passed those values on.”
In the years before his death in 2010 at age 93, Bud spent time organizing his extensive collection of journals, articles, photographs and ephemera from a lifetime on the land and in the Forest Service. He then donated his collection to UM’s Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library.
“He had a real consciousness of where he was in time and tried to document it,” Bill said.
Vicki Moore hopes the collection will be a resource for many scholars, including the Moore Fellow.
“For me it was a kind of synergy,” she said about creating an endowed fellowship at the same university where her father’s archives are stored.
The family hopes this commitment will help others learn about and care for the Northwestern Rocky Mountain land their parents so loved.
“I want the message of ecosystem management, taking care of the land and land ethics to continue,” Vicki said.
To support the William R. (Bud) and Jane Buckhouse Moore Graduate Research Endowment, contact Sam Barkley. You can also give online at SupportUM.org/BudMoore.
Pictured above: Bud Moore in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area. Bud Moore Papers, Archives and Special Collections, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, University of Montana—Missoula.