Northwest Trees The Mountaineers Books 246 pages, Softbound, $18.95
Northwest Trees arrived in the mail the other day, for some odd reason. That’s one of the perks of being a writer—authors and publishers want free ink and we scribes serve as a conduit to the public. As an avid reader I’m happy to oblige. Half the time, however, I ask, “Who wants to read this crap?” I had a different reaction when Northwest Trees showed up.
Be sure, this new book, an anniversary edition of the first printing, which occurred in 1977, is not about fly fishing. But, every flyfisher who wants the most rewarding return on their time would serve well to buy this book and read it.
Basically, Northwest Trees describes the major tree species in the Pacific Northwest, meaning Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Montana, Alaska, British Columbia and even Wyoming. All the big names—Sitka spruce, Pacific dogwood, ponderosa pine, western redcedar, Douglas fir, quaking aspen, Madrone (42 in all)—are covered in detail with notations on range, appearance, ecological role, and human history. These are the trees we see while fishing and live around in our common lives. Our personal lives and family histories, you’ll find, are built around these towering Northwest icons. Fortunately, author Stephen Arno does a great job of explaining the nuances of these trees without the professorial scientific bullshit that would put us to sleep. He’s a nature guy, too, not an angler but a forest ranger and ecologist. You’ll like his authentic style.
While reading this book I grew a desire to identify trees, not only on the stream when fishing, but wherever I go. As I travel in the Northwest now I keep one eye on the road and the other perusing the countryside trying to recognize the trees I’ve read about. When that happens, there’s a wave of satisfaction that washes over me. I promise: Take a look at this book and the information it contains and you’ll want to own it. The anniversary edition is complete with more than 250 accurate drawings produced, it should be known, by the recognized illustrator, Ramona P. Hammerly. Don’t want to make a trip to the bookstore? Order online at www.mountaineersbooks.org