They called it “the Bud thing.”
Years ago foresters and rangers referred to the inspiration they received when they heard Bud Moore talk about the values of wilderness and of the Wilderness Act.
On Thursday the daughter and son of the late conservationist were at the Mansfield Library on the University of Montana campus for two special occasions: to receive Missoula County’s fourth annual stewardship award on behalf of their dad, and to help mark the formal opening of the Bud Moore papers collection at the Mansfield.
“Just by being who he was, what he was and what the land had made him, I think he passed on certain messages,” said Vicki Moore, whose father died in 2010 at age 93.
Bill Moore said his father taught him lessons of the wild he didn’t even know he’d learned until later. By making the journals and letters, reports and notes, speeches and photos and even his voice available to the public through the UM archives, his son said he hoped others will glean some things too.
“Not necessarily how to sharpen their jackknife so it’ll skin a marten better but maybe they’ll learn how to listen to the land, pay attention to what’s going on, and realize if they do that, if they stick to the strength of their convictions, one person can make a big difference in the course of his life,” Bill Moore said.
“I think that is the essence of what he was and what I someday hope to be, too.”
The Vital Ground Foundation nominated Moore for the county’s stewardship award based on work he did in the Swan Valley in the decades after his retirement from an illustrious Forest Service career. He and wife Janet purchased what he called Coyote Forest, an 80-acre piece of land west of Condon, in 1974.
At first Moore wasn’t sure if an innovative ecosystem management strategy for such a small tract of land was practical, the nomination explained. But he soon realized he could plan for each type of habitat on his property – ponds, riparian areas, wooded uplands, cabin and mill sites.
“It’s amazing what you see when you shift your mind-set,” Moore once said.
He spent more than 30 years restoring the logged-over acreage of Coyote Forest while harvesting timber with a light touch. Just as important, said Vital Ground’s Kevin Rhoades, Moore was supremely able and willing to share “the Bud thing” with others.
Vital Grounds and others compared Moore’s principles to those of the great conservationist Aldo Leopold.
“Through his writing and inspirational talks … Moore helped advance the discussion of conservation ethics, land health and ecosystem management,” the nomination said.
“Whenever we were asked who in our realm would make a good candidate (for the stewardship award) Bud Moore rose to the top of the list quite quickly,” Rhoades said. “He initiated some of our work as kind of the centerpiece for our work in the Swan Valley. Back in 2005 he was the first conservation easement we did in Montana.”
Now the organization has 10 conservation easements in the Swan, including a cluster around Coyote Forest that includes Bill Moore’s land.
The county began awarding the land stewardship award in 2011, after Moore’s death. This is its first posthumous presentation, but an easy choice as far as the selection committee was concerned, said Kali Becher of Missoula County’s Community and Planning Services.
“I don’t feel like anybody really batted an eye,” she said. “It was like, OK, this makes sense because Bud Moore was so deserving and his legacy has been so evident in the Swan Valley.”
The Moores donated Bud’s papers to the Mansfield the year after his death. Kellyn Younggren, archives specialist, has catalogued 102 boxes worth of material that’s remarkable for its diversity.
“One of the most interesting collections I’ve ever worked with,” she said. “He really was a Renaissance man.”
Beyond its conservation aspects, the collection will be valuable to researchers of histories of the Forest Service, western Montana, hunting and trapping, Norman Maclean, and World War II. As a U.S. Marine, Moore helped secure airports at beach heads on Peleliu, New Britain, and Okinawa. An email exchange provides specific details about his experiences in the war.
Moore’s work journals and some personal diaries dating back to 1946 are included in the collection. So, Younggren said, are the notes he used as he put together his writings and speeches, such as lists of questions Moore used to prepare his field research trips and interviews of old timers for his 1996 book “The Lochsa Story.”
“One of the real advantages of it is he had this philosophy about conservation and the environment, the ecosystem, and that’s really reflected in his private writings as well as in his public presentations. He walked the talk,” said head archivist Donna McCrea.
Another highlight of the collection is a remarkable image and audio recording library that Moore worked on with Swan Valley historian Suzanne Vernon for much of the last decade of his life.
Sam Meister, the Mansfield Library’s digital archivist, said he hopes to have it online soon through the Montana Memory Project. It includes some 4,700 photos that Moore took through the years. Accompanying about them are 1,400 audio recordings.
Meister played a three-minute clip to go along with a 1973 color photo of two firefighters burning out brush to protect the Bad Luck Lookout in the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness.
The 40 or so people at Thursday’s celebration in the Mansfield library listened to Moore as he described the scene of what said was the second fire the Forest Service allowed to burn in the wilderness “to see if we could capture some diversity and go back to something closer to natural ecology in the wilderness.”
His humor and story-telling talents come through as Moore told of a retardant drop near the lookout.
“The plane came in real low and dropped it heavy, close to the ground,” he recalled. “It did a lot to protect the lookout but the force of the drop knocked over the latrine. It caught the latrine quite squarely. So it really was an interesting day for those of us from the regional office, the forest headquarters, and the firefighters.”
Moore’s survivors recently announced the William R. “Bud” and Jane Buckhouse Moore Graduate Research Endowment to support research projects by graduate students focused on the Crown of the Continent bioregion. Vicki Moore encouraged those in attendance to consider contributing to the fund.
“We need to reach a minimum of $25,000 to keep it going in perpetuity,” Vicki Moore said. “Then the message will be out there.”
“There are so many things that we can experience in the wilderness that help put us, the human animal, into perspective and keep a certain perspective of our place in the order of things,” she added. “Pop surely had this perspective. But more than that he knew how to pass it on others.”