The Legacy of a Douglas-fir Forest
Jane Claire Dirks-Edmunds
Foreword by Robert Michael Pyle
The word "unique"
is overused. But in the case of Not Just Trees, that description
Trees is the gracefully written story of life in an ancient
Oregon Coast Range forest. Covering a span of more than sixty
years, it is the tale of the mighty Douglas-firs and cedars and
hemlocks that once grew there. But an ancient forest is more
than just trees, and this book is also about the lives of great
and small creatures and plants, of slugs and worms, spiders and
bugs, butterflies and birds, lichens and mosses.
Dirks-Edmunds began studying a small parcel of ancient forest in
western Oregon while an undergraduate student at Linfield College.
After receiving her doctorate she returned to Linfield to teach
biology for more than thirty years and again study her beloved forest
on Saddleback Mountain, recording its life through logging in the
1940s and clearcutting in the 1980s. This type of in-depth
study, over so many years, has never been undertaken on a single
western forest before, nor is it likely to ever be repeated.
Trees tells about the amazing variety of life in the forest.
It is also the story of a tenacious woman, an ecologist who studied
Oregon flora and fauna before there were guidebooks, at a time when
precious few even knew what the word "ecology" meant.
her sophomore year during her days as a Linfield student, Jane Claire
Dirks-Edmunds visited the ecological research site of her mentor,
Professor James A. Macnab. From that day, the forest on Saddleback
Mountain was never far from her mind or heart.
place such as Saddleback was indeed much more than trees.
With its accreted knowledge, it should have become a national monument,
a Biosphere Reserve, a cherished baseline for every other Coast
Range forest that used to be. That it did not work out that
way is a tragedy. How lucky we are that its loving scribe
has told us in elegant, enjoyable, compelling, and ultimately heartbreaking
terms, just what was vouchsafed to her by these lost woods."
Robert Michael Pyle, author of Wintergreen and Where Bigfoot
Just Trees will please anyone who cares about forests, wildlife,
and the intricate workings of ecosystems; it will inspire those
concerned about women's struggles for equality; it will engage
in the history of science in the twentieth century; and it will
inform those interested in the Northwest and the unique flora,
and microbiota of its forests."
Anne H. Ehrlich, author of The Population Explosion and Extinction
Not Just Trees, Jane Claire Dirks-Edmunds bravely tells
a painful story. Between 1933, when she was a sophomore at Linfield
and 1995, when she visited the site for the last time, Dirks-Edmunds
participated in a series of studies of a remnant Douglas fir forest
in the Coast Ranges of western Oregon. In this charming, thoughtful,
and informative book, she accounts for the emotional and intellectual
appeal of old-growth forests across her lifetime. This memoir is
a fine account of the joys of doing biological fieldwork and a
primer on the complex ecology of undisturbed forests, a subject
pioneered, in part, by her mentor, James A. Macnab. After the Saddleback
Mountain research area was logged in 1940, Dirks-Edmunds and others
studied forest recovery, recording and admiring the regenerative
powers of naturepowers irrevocably undermined by clear-cutting
in the 1980s and 1990s."
maps, glossary, bibliography, index
360 pages (1999)
in Canada through UBC Press)