Spring 2012


Grad Student’s Book Welcomes Visitors to ‘Conifer Country’

Michael Kauffmann (Submitted Image)

MICHAEL KAUFFMAN, a Biology graduate student and lecturer at HSU, has published a guide to the trails and plant species of the Klamath Mountain region. The book, Connifer Country, available from Backcountry Press and at the HSU Natural History Museum, provides an in-depth guide to the biodiversity of the territory with special attention to the majestic conifers found there.

“Conifers are often windswept and charismatic,” Kauffman says. “I like to think of the mountain conifers as the crowning jewels of the Klamath.”

Submitted Image

The book contains 29 hiking trails spanning the Klamath Mountain region of Northern California and Southern Oregon. Each trail acts as a tour of the 35 ancient conifers that live in the area.

As a bonus for Kauffman, the book also meets requirements for his Master’s degree. According to Kauffman, the project is an example of the kinds of work coming out of a new degree pathway in the Department of Biological Sciences.

Professor Jeffrey White, Kauffman’s advisor, says projects like this provide unique opportunities for students and the community. “I am very excited to be a part of this new option that trains and financially supports students in the art of communicating rigorous science to broad audiences,” says White.

Kauffman, who also holds a teaching credential, is an educator who noticed in his students a lack of enthusiasm for the natural world. This awareness, coupled with his own love of backpacking, led him to write the book. “I wanted to connect people to nature by helping them have a more authentic experience with it,” he says. “If you’re engaged with the natural world, you’re going to care more about it.”

Of the 29 hiking trails highlighted in Conifer Country, Kauffman says, the most popular is Canyon Creek. This demanding, 11-mile round-trip hike near the town of Junction City, Calif., showcases 14 different conifers. Among them is the rare Brewer spruce, which only exists in the Klamath region.

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Michael Kauffman presents the talk “Conifers of the Klamath Mountains,” at the HSU Biodiversity Conference 2012, on Saturday, Sept. 29. For more info, visit humboldt.edu/biodiversity