As a young smokejumper in the late 1960s, Barry Hicks knew how ingrained wildfire management was at the U.S. Forest Service. The agency adhered to a strict "10 a.m. rule," an objective calling for fire suppression by that time the next day. Yet Hicks remembers vividly the speech William "Bud" Moore, then the Forest Service's director of fire and aviation, gave to Missoula smokejumpers outlining a radical change in policy.
"From his days trapping, he saw the effects that fire had on the land and that it was not all bad," says Hicks, now the president of the National Smokejumper Center in West Yellowstone. "There were some fires that actually reduced fuels and left the big trees standing."
Moore died at his home in Condon Nov. 26 at the age of 93. Long considered a pioneer in forestry and conservation, Moore spent decades working to allow wildfires to have a more natural presence on the landscape. It was a move Hicks calls a "huge culture change" for the Forest Service.
"Bud was one of the key individuals responsible for the Forest Service's first-ever prescribed natural fire on the Bitterroot," says Bill Miller, a Missoula smokejumper with the Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program. "That was an unpopular choice at the time that's proven prophetic."
In fact, Miller says, there's little to Moore's life that doesn't impress. Moore served with the U.S. Marine Corps in the Pacific during World War II. After retiring from the Forest Service, he settled on his spread near Condon, where he logged the land and ran his own timber mill. He even hosted presentations for locals on maintaining a healthy forest.
"The more you look at Bud's life, the more phenomenal it is," Miller says. "You just can't believe all the things he participated in that were significant parts of the nation's history and the Forest Service's history."
For Hicks, it is Moore's leadership and knowledge of the environment that command the deepest respect. And Moore's is a legacy Hicks intends to carry on through nonprofit programs like the National Smokejumper Center and Missoula's Junior Smokejumpers.
"I've been trying to convince the Forest Service that they ought to establish a fire management leadership award in Bud's name," Hicks says. "He was a tremendous leader in fire."