Rick Bass

by Elizabeth Hacken


Rick Bass was born in Fort Worth, Texas on March 7, 1958. He received a Bachelor of Science in Petroleum Geology at Utah State in 1979 and then worked as a gas and oil geologist in Jackson Mississippi.

He and his wife moved to the Yaak Valley in the northern Rockies in 1987. Bass is active in working to protect the Yaak area from roads and logging, and serves on the board of the Forest council and Round River Conservation Studies in Yaak Valley.

He is the author of over twenty books. His first short story collection, The Watch, set in Texas, won the PEN/Nelson Algren Award, and his 2002 collection, The Hermit’s Story, was a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year. Bass’s stories have also been awarded the Pushcart Prize and the O. Henry Award and have been collected in The Best American Short Stories.

Yaak Valley Forest Council

The Yaak Valley Forest Council (YVFC) was formed in 1997 because the residents were concerned with the health and management of the forest land. YVFC is led by residents of the Yaak Valley, residents who know the landscape intimately, who have a high level of field experience, and who have developed strong collaborative projects with other grassroots groups, as well as county, state, and federal officials toward habitat conservation, restoration, and connectivity, as well as the cutting edge of community economic development.

Yaak Valley Forest Council mission statement:

Our mission is to: 1) Permanently protect the last remaining roadless cores in the Yaak Valley, which total nearly 180,000 acres in the northern tier of the Kootenai National Forest through Wilderness designation and other management tools; 2) Maintain and restore the valley’s ecological integrity by conserving and improving habitat for populations of native species; 3) Encourage and support the development of local economies increasingly based on stewardship principles, value-added forest products, habitat conservation and ecological restoration; and 4) Empower local residents through education and solidarity toward the above mission.  YVFC is committed to cultivating and encouraging meaningful dialog between historically polarized groups within the valley as well as the region, bringing these groups to the same table to find common ground on ecosystem-based forest management practices.

For more information on the Yaak Valley Forest Council go to:


Discussion Questions

  • After reading the first chapter of The Ninemile Wolves, what did you think about the topic?
  • Can you think of a better (reasonable) way to handle wolf populations in places where people live?
  • Which theory do you think is the reason the wolves are returning to the Yaak Valley? (Norton, 1118)
  • What do you think of the first quote below? Is there truth behind it?


“To pretend anything else-to pretend that we are protecting the wolf, for instance, or managing him-is nonsense of the kind of immense proportions of which only our species is capable.” -Rick Bass (The Ninemile Wolves) Norton, 1115

“[Wild animals], and the beautiful landscapes that sustain them…possess a value and a virtue regardless of our dwindling connection with them. It seems that there is a virtue and a wisdom in keeping some things beyond our reach: that the protection of wilderness itself is imperative… We have touched, and are consuming, everything. The world is very old, and we are so new. I like the feeling of awe–what the late writer Wallace Stegner called ‘the birth of awe’–in beholding wild country not reduced by man. I like to remember that it is wild country that gives rise to wild animals; and that the marvelous specificity of wild animals reminds us to wake up, to let our senses be inflamed by every scent and sound and sight and taste and touch of the world. I like to remember that we are not here forever, and not here alone, and that the respect with which we behold the wild world matters, if anything does.” -Rick Bass

“I do not concern myself with my inability to feel such comfort amidst humans (other than with very few friends and family), but, rather, am simply thankful that at least dogs exist, and I’m humbly aware of how much less a person I’d be – how less a human – if they did not exist. “
— Rick Bass (Colter: The True Story of the Best Dog I Ever Had)


creative writing:


links to more information



link to the Rick Bass picture:



About envirolit

Professor of Environmental Literature
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