The Story of the Klamath Mountains | Humboldt NOW

Kauffman, Garwood, and 32 other expert authors, including several Cal Poly Humboldt faculty, current students, and alumni, collaborated on “The Klamath Mountains: A Natural History” (Backcountry Press, 2022), which details virtually every aspect of the region, from its ancient formation to modern land use, along with topics including the First Peoples, fire ecology, aquatic ecosystems, plant communities, insects and pathogens, and the wide range of animals found there.

The co-editors say theirs is the first book to comprehensively tell the natural history of the Klamath Mountains. They will be discussing and signing their book at two local appearances in the coming weeks.

Kauffmann has been an educator for the Fortuna Elementary School District for 19 years. In 2012, he received a master’s degree in Biology from Cal Poly Humboldt and worked with the University as a consultant on a National Science Foundation-funded study examining how conifers are responding to drought in the western United States. He is also the owner of Backcountry Press.

A researcher and author of numerous scientific papers, Garwood (’02, Fisheries Biology, ’09, MS, Wildlife) has been an environmental scientist for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for 15 years.

Steeped in mystery, the Klamath Mountains tell numerous stories of evolution and resilience shaped over long periods of time. Geology is the defining character of this range, with numerous smaller mountain ranges forming a jigsaw puzzle of big-shouldered river canyons and sharp ridgelines. Within the Klamath Knot, the geology also shapes the climate with wet coastal rainforests in the west and dry semi-deserts in the east.

“I am particularly proud of this book because of the dedication of all the authors,” Kauffmann says. “There are so many amazing natural and cultural stories that have been hidden in these hills. But now, due to the efforts of many, they have emerged in one collection for the first time.”

Garwood says the subject is a personal one.

“This project is years in the making,” says Garwood. “I grew up in the Klamath Mountains and have always been both inspired and perplexed by the intricate natural history of this place I call home. Now, due to the cumulative passions of so many, we finally have a definitive book to tell the epic story of the range.”

At 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 12Kauffmann will be giving a presentation for the North Coast Chapter of the California Native Plant Society at the Masonic Lodge in Arcata.
For more information on the book, please visit

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