I am an indie author who writes to protect wildlife and preserve wild lands. Wolves started me down this path. For three winters, my wife Mary and I left our home in Oregon and volunteered and lived at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch in the remote northeastern corner of Yellowstone. The Lamar Valley is known as America's Little Serengeti and is the best place in the world to watch wolves in the wild.The ranch is the teaching site of the Yellowstone Forever. Students come from all over to attend field seminars taught by world-class experts in subjects such as ecology, geology, and photography. 

Mary and I supported the instructors, helped students spot wildlife, drove 14-passenger buses over snow-covered roads, and cleaned and maintained the ranch. During our first winter, we were lucky enough to observe 06, the famous Lamar Canyon pack alpha female, and the rest of her pack. I began that first winter as a fascinated observer. But slowly, I realized that I could not just observe. The wolves' place in the West and elsewhere is too tenuous.

On December 6, 2012, 06 was shot outside the park in the shoot-a-wolf-anytime-anywhere-for-any-reason rampage that Wyoming officials had the nerve to call wolf management. With 06 gone, her alpha male, 755M, left the pack and Lamar Valley in search of a new mate. With no alphas remaining, the rest of 06’s pack scattered, some in the park, some out. One of her daughters eventually found a mate, had pups, and reinvigorated the Lamar Canyon pack. But life has been hard for the Lamars: mange, dying pups, and death by other wolves. 

Observing first hand the destructive impact of hunting on animals I had come to know and respect started me down the path of advocating for wolves from my home in Oregon. 

Eventually, the draw of Yellowstone was too strong to resist. After thirty-five years in Oregon, Mary and I moved to Montana. Now that we live next to Yellowstone’s grandeur, we know that making the move to Gardiner was right. 

But we have also been surprised to learn that Gardiner sits smack in the middle of a number of controversies: the dispute over hunting Yellowstone wolves outside the park; the debate whether wolves help or harm the ecosystem and the local economy; the concern about overuse of and development around the park; the community effort to stop a possible gold mine on the park’s border; the outrage over the plan to remove grizzlies from the endangered species list; and the battle to stop the slaughter of park bison.

While living at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch—a wildlife-filled bubble where animals roamed with little fear of human intervention—we had stayed blissfully unaware of most of these controversies. There is no way we can avoid them in Gardiner; nor do we want to. 

My first book about Yellowstone, In the Temple of Wolves: A Winter's Immersion in Wild Yellowstone, has been a bestseller in its Amazon category for four years and earned more than 270 Five-Star reviews. All winter I work and live in this remote corner of Yellowstone, where winter-hungry elk and bison migrate to graze. Wolves, coyotes, and mountain lions stalk the grazers while eagles, ravens, and magpies wait to scavenge. A literary blend of facts and feelings, independently published In the Temple of Wolves celebrates nature’s stark beauty and treacherous cruelty, while revealing my inner battles with my own human nature. 

My new book, Deep into Yellowstone: A Year's Immersion in Grandeur and Controversy, takes you deep into Yellowstone's grandeur and digs into the controversies I found. The year of immersion begins when my wife Mary and I trust the pull of Yellowstone; leave family, friends, and security after thirty-five years in Oregon; and relocate to Gardiner, Montana, at Yellowstone’s north gate.  The year ends with my having an even stronger love for Yellowstone and a deeper commitment to protect the park's wildlife and wildlands from threats from many directions and factions.

What others say about my books:

 "As a naturalist, Rick knows his biology and weaves into the narrative important emerging science; the wolf figures large in this wild world, exemplifying top-down ecological cascades. He describes the stark beauty and treacherous cruelty of nature, with an honest voice that leaves no detail unsaid, be it exquisite or morbid. It’s not only the outer struggles in nature that are revealed in Rick’s writing, but also inner battles with his own human nature. It is a marvelous read." William J. Ripple, Ph.D., professor, author

"Rick Lamplugh provides a refreshing natural history perspective of the ecological inner workings of the Lamar ecosystem. A perspective with a literary bent reminiscent of great naturalist writers such as Ann Zwinger—a touch of science and a touch of sentiment." Jim Halfpenny, PhD, A Naturalist's World

Lamplugh is a word artist; Yellowstone is his palette." Julianne Baker, Yellowstone Instructor

"Eminent naturalist and wildlife advocate Rick Lamplugh draws from a deep personal wellspring of experience and knowledge to take readers into Yellowstone’s wild heart." Cristina Eisenberg, PhD, Chief Scientist, Earthwatch Institute

"A touch of Bill Bryson’s whimsy, a dose of Edward Abbey’s insight, and the story-telling charm of John McPhee." John Gillespie, Geologist

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Rick,
    I just got back from my first trip to Yellowstone in the winter and spent a day in the Lamar Valley. I visited the Mammoth Visitors' Center and piled several books on the counter. I noticed yours, hesitated, then added it to the pile. Boy am I glad I did. I absolutely love your writing style--vivid descriptions, based on sound observations sprinkled with humility. I've spent 25 years keeping field notebooks on trips from Yellowstone to the Yukon, and I admire your ability to craft stories from your observations. I wish I could have stayed longer on this trip, but your book has helped extend my visit and will find a place in my bookcase of fine natural history writing. I look forward to receiving your blog posts.


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