Parker, Kenneth W. (Deceased)
Kenneth was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on October 18, 1904, but while only a young lad, his family moved to northern California. After graduation from Santa Rosa High School, he attended the University of California at Berkeley. He majored in range management and plant ecology and received BS and MS degrees from the School of Forestry in 1928 and 1929. Kenneth developed a close friendship with his major professor, Dr. A. W. Sampson, and remained at the University, where he studied common Saint Johnswort (Hypericum perfoliatum) and authored a bulletin on the species with Dr. Sampson. Kenneth was assistant professor of animal husbandry in charge of range management at New Mexico State College (Las Cruces) from 1932 to 1937. From there he went to Tucson, where he accepted a position with the Forest Service at the Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station at the University of Arizona. Kenneth remained there for about a decade and received several promotions and became chief of the Experiment Station’s Division of Range Research. While in the southwest Kenneth became a recognized authority on the management of rangelands and his advice was sought by public and private administrators of rangelands. He advanced knowledge in several specialized areas including poisonous plants, control of noxious weeds, artificial revegetation, and techniques for measuring range condition and productivity. His studies were published in scientific journals and in many state and federal bulletins. In 1948, Kenneth was selected to develop a system for measuring range conditions and trends that could be used by ranchers, who owned livestock using national forest rangelands. This management tool became known as the Parker Three Step Method and was used extensively by state and federal agencies. Coincident with this assignment Kenneth was transferred to the Forest Service Administrative Division of Range Management in Washington, D.C., but remained in Tucson temporarily to demonstrate the Three Step Method to field staff. In 1953, Kenneth became assistant chief of the division and was given the difficult task of leading a nationwide evaluation of range conditions on national forests. In spite of some of the contentious issues that sometimes developed, Kenneth used his range management and personnel skills to make sound decisions acceptable to both stockmen and the managers. Kenneth became director of the Division of Range and Wildlife Habitat Ecology and Management Research in 1956 and held this position until his retirement in 1969. Kenneth was a member of many scientific and professional organizations including The Wildlife Society, Society of American Foresters, and the American Society of Range Management. He was a member of Sigma Xi and the Cosmos Club. Kenneth was elected a member of the Washington Biologists’ Field Club in 1957. Kenneth died in Washington, D.C., on May 18, 1973. A memorial plaque was installed on Plummers Island for this admired ecologist.