Richard W. Behan has spent his adult life immersed in the subject matter of Plundered Promise, by virtue of his vocational and leisure-time choices. After 6 years of service in Alaska's national forests, he earned a Ph.D. in Wildland Resource Science at the University of California, Berkeley, and for 12 years taught natural resource policy at the University of Montana. During that time, he served on the faculty committee appointed by Dean Arnold W. Bolle to investigate, at the request of Senator Lee Metcalf of Montana, the controversial forest management practices on the Bitterroot National Forest. The committee's work, known quickly and widely as the Bolle Report, was sharply critical of Forest Service practices and was instrumental in stimulating the passage of the National Forest Management Act. Behan left the University of Montana to join the faculty of the School of Forestry at Northern Arizona University, and was appointed Dean of the School several years later. He served on the boards of directors of the Forest History Society, the American Forestry Association, and the Council of Forestry School Executives, traveling frequently to Washington DC and experiencing the maelstrom of influence-politics there. He served as a consultant at various times to the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Soil Conservation Service, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Congressional Research Service, and published nearly 100 articles and papers in the literature of public land management, economics, and politics.
The author, his wife Ann, and their children have devoted their leisure time to the outdoors, savoring the scenic and recreational resources of the federal lands. With boots, paddles, skis, and ropes they have roamed -- sometimes casually, they say, but with much enthusiasm -- the canyons, wild rivers, and mountain ranges of the West. The author and his wife now live in the San Juan Islands of northwest Washington State, where he continues his research and writing.