Paul Block standing in a field of grass

Me in Gear

We are sorry to share the news that our colleague Paul died at home of natural causes during the week of 6 May 2018.

Paul was a member of the Colorado State University and CEMML communities—even before CEMML was established formally—from 1989-2018. Originally from Minnesota, Paul graduated from CSU with a degree in rangeland ecology. Paul described himself as an ecologist, plant taxonomist, analyst, science writer, and Jack-of-all-trades. He was the person to whom we all turned when something needed to be done. Paul made his mark in the field. He was Mr. LCTA/RTLA (Land Condition-Trend Analysis / Range and Training Land Assessments); he completed more surveys and transects than anyone in CEMML’s Army-wide program. The work took him to dozens of military installations across the country and overseas, from Florida (Camp Blanding) to California (Fort Irwin), further west to Hawai’i (multiple islands and installations) and further east to Germany (Grafenwohr Training Area).

Paul was an expert with maps and plants. One of his most-appreciated contributions was Vegetation and Classification and Mapping: Pohakuloa Training Area Hawaii, which he completed in 2012. His recent work included the construction of a perimeter fence at Buckley Air Force, Colorado; completion of an invasive plant survey and urban forest inventory at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada; and a weed mapping survey at Beale Air Force Base, California. Paul was scheduled to contribute to field work in Hawaii during summer 2018. Paul seemed to end up in the hottest, sweatiest places, especially those with thorny or spiny plants, venomous snakes and rugged terrain. His work was appreciated deeply by CEMML’s partners in the Department of Defense, such as Orchard Training Area, Idaho, where he repaired and operated a large wind tunnel used in a soil erosion study, and Camp Guernsey, Wyoming, where he worked in riparian areas.

Paul enjoyed life outside of work and had many interests and passions. He was stubbornly self-sufficient, relished mechanical problem-solving, and took great satisfaction and pride in repairing his buildings, automobiles, and snowmobiles. Paul recently was rebuilding his house in Livermore, Colorado, that burned during the last hours of the 2012 High Park Fire. He regularly cycled his snowmobile through breaking, fixing, tuning, overtuning, and breaking again. He greatly enjoyed socializing and riding in Colorado with snowmobilers from afar. Paul once brought ice-fishing gear and an auger on a backcountry ski trip, only to find that the lake was frozen solid. He hunted deer and elk most autumns, and enjoyed mountain living and engaging with and helping his neighbors. Paul was an excellent cook and enjoyed good beer.

Give Paul a piece of equipment and he mastered it. Give him a challenge and he took it on. Give him the opportunity and he made you laugh. We miss him.

Paul’s obituary is available here: http://www.hofffuneral.com/obituary/258778/Paul-Block/#media

CSU’s Source report is at: https://source.colostate.edu/in-memory-paul-block/