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Keith Olson

Forestry Pioneer

Keith OlsonKeith Olson recently retired as executive director of the Montana Logging Association, a position he held for 38 years. Mr. Olson was born in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, where he lived a grand total of 3 days.

Oregon would become his home for most of his early years. He graduated from Roseburg High School in 1965 and received a degree in forest management from Oregon State University in 1969.

Early in his career, Keith was employed as a corporate forester for 5 years in northwest Oregon, two years as a log buyer in north Idaho, and 5 years as a consulting forester—a title he co-opted because “he had no job and didn’t qualify for unemployment benefits.”

His professional career took a meaningful turn in 1980 when, as the story goes:

“Three nefarious loggers cornered him in a bar in Thompson Falls and—through the skillful manipulation of fast talk and cold beer—convinced him to become the executive director of the Montana Logging Association.”

What happened in the intervening years is a subject of great conjecture and debate.

Some of his professional affiliations include:

  • Forty-eight year member of the Society of American Foresters;
  • Past participant on  the University of Montana’s Business Advisory Council;
  • Past-president of the National Council of Forestry Association Executives; and
  • Founding member of the American Loggers Council and serving as its administrative director during its formative years.

He is most appreciative of the acknowledgements he has receive from organizations such as the Northwest Montana Hoo Hoo Club, the Intermountain Logging Conference, the American Loggers Council, the Montana Forest Council and the Montana Wood Products Association.

But he is most proud of the fact that the Montana Logging Association allowed him the great privilege of representing the logging profession for nearly four decades.

Keith continues to reside in the Flathead Valley with his wife of 50 years, Vicki. They are the proud parents of 3 daughters, 5 grandsons and one great grand-daughter.

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