This is officially much more than a hobby for Scott and Tiff Sink.

Years after publishing a book compiling 63 of the most popular national parks in the U.S., Sink, with the help of his wife, Tiff, and mother (listed as a co-author for her contributions), undertook the extensive task of writing a guide book that gives readers a detailed look into all 155 national forests. Scott Sink, for his part, is also is a frequent contributor to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.

And yes, there is a difference between national parks and national forests.

Each are regulated by different government entities and are designated based on different qualities. For one, national parks serve the sole purpose of preserving important ecosystems for the enjoyment of park-goers.

Forests, on the other hand, have a variety of uses, from harvesting lumber, to raising livestock and, of course, providing people with a space for outdoor recreational activities.

“It’s always been something we wanted to do,” Sink said in a phone interview this past week. “We had talked about trying to hike to the rest of the national forests at one point in our life, and it just seemed like the right time to do it.

“When you’re in the national forest you’re out on hiking trails, there aren’t really visitor centers or museums or anything.”

With a doctorate in forestry, experience working for the National Forest Service in Alaska, three years as a professor at California Polytechnic State University and a childhood passion for creative writing, Sink is an environmental enthusiast. He is well equipped to write something like “Out In the Woods: An Introductory Guide to America’s 155 National Forests.”

“I grew up visiting national parks and hiking. My dad worked in an office his whole career so he always wanted to be outside for vacations,” Sink said. “I can’t be stuck in an office. I wanted to try to find something where I was working outdoors.”

Beginning with the pandemic, Sink and his wife were cooped up in the house with 50 or so national forests under their belt. Somewhere in the lull, they decided it was time to complete that list, so for the rest of the pandemic, they traveled around the country to forests big and small, researching and surveying each for a two-page section in the book.

Each location receives equal informational treatment. There’s a summary on the founding of the forest, a description of the trees and ecosystem within it as well as inclusion of one hike that gives visitors the optimal opportunity to experience the space.

Doing so for each forest isn’t always easy – many of the southern states have multiple parks that began to blur together toward the end of the endeavor, save for the variations of native trees. But there’s something to look forward to in each.

More than a technical compilation of forests with textbook style information, Sink and his wife, who edited the book, tried to be as engaging as possible.

It’s a good thing, because the true purpose of the book is to fill the gaps in information about our country’s national forests.

“If you type in how many national forests there are in Wyoming and try to find something on the internet, there’s a lot of stuff about the hiking trails, but even the Forest Service website doesn’t provide a very good background on why the forest is here,” Sink said.

However, Sink had trouble finding a publisher for the book. Many denied him over the book’s lack of regional focus.

Oddly enough, it was Sink’s intention to broaden the scope of the work. The hope is that the book can serve as a road map for anyone looking to complete a journey like Sink’s, so they decided to self publish.

On June 21, Scott and Tiff Sink will give a presentation about the book at the Laramie County Library at 7 p.m. Rather than delve too deep into the book’s contents, Scott will give contextual information on why national forests exist, and discuss the importance of the often ignored landmarks.

“Out in the Woods” was released on May 25 and can be ordered on Amazon. The Sinks’ website, Raven About the Plains, has more information about each forest as well as national park they have visited.

Scott Sink is a frequent contributor for the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.

Will Carpenter is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s Arts and Entertainment/Features Reporter. He can be reached by email at wcarpenter@wyomingnews.com or by phone at 307-633-3135. Follow him on Twitter @will_carp_.

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