They call him “the guru”—University of Washington professor Jerry Franklin, who has made his home for years in our backyard on Squak Mountain. He earned his title for the insight that resulted from, of all things, a disaster.
Here he is in a setting dear to him, in a pine forest teaching the next generation of forest ecologists.
William Dietrich tells the now familiar story in his Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Final Forest.[i]
The blast laid trees over like a giant comb, burning off the needles and covering the mountainsides with logs like matted brown hair. Ash covered the duff of the forest floor. Humans and large animals caught in the blast were suffocated and roasted. But scientists were surprised at how many small creatures and plants survived the searing heat and began immediately to repair the ecological fabric. Fireweed poked through the ash. Ants scuttled across the gray powder. Gophers burrowed to the surface, beginning to mix the old soil with the new deposits. Insects and seed began to blow across the moonscape.