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Ron Wakimoto

Ron WakimotoForestry Pioneer

Dr. Ronald H. Wakimoto was a professor of forestry at the University of Montana. He received his bachelor’s degree in forestry and master’s and doctoral degrees in Wildland Resource Science from the University of California at Berkeley. He began his faculty career at UC Berkeley in 1976 and has taught and conducted research in wildland fire management at the University of Montana since 1982.

Throughout his time at UM, Dr. Wakimoto has worked to support, mentor and advise students of color.  He teaches academic courses in Wildland Fire Management, Fuel Management, Fire Ecology and Urban Forestry. 

He has conducted research on diverse topics including the effectiveness of fuel management treatments, smoke quantity and quality from smoldering combustion, and crown fire spread. 

In 1988 and 1989, Dr. Wakimoto was one of two academics to serve as a technical adviser to the National Fire Policy Review Team following the Yellowstone fire events. He has given testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives concerning wildfire policy three times in his career.

In 2004, Dr. Wakimoto was elected a fellow by the Society of American Foresters. At the national level of SAF, he served four years as the chair for student affairs, and served the past six years on the committee on accreditation. In 1990, he was Montana SAF’s “Forester of the Year.” From 2005 to 2010 he served as the chair of the Department of Ecosystem and Conservation Sciences at UM. 

From 2006 to the present Dr. Wakimoto has taught short-courses on fire ecology, prescribed burning, disaster preparedness, fire management strategy development, and fire suppression training in the Kingdom of Bhutan, high in the Himalayas. At the end of 2010, he resigned as department chair and returned to Bhutan for a five-month sabbatical leave from the University. In January 2014, he returned to conduct more fire training in Bhutan.  Dr. Wakimoto has given fire training to more than 200 Bhutanese foresters, 40 government administrators, and 120 fire volunteers who represent every fire-prone dzongkhag in the country. In May 2014, he was awarded the H.H. Biswell Lifetime Achievement Award by the Association for Fire Ecology.

Since his retirement in 2015, Ron has been rafting, fishing and hunting in Montana.


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