People of the Palouse: Retired public land manager chooses Pullman

Sid Houpt retired in Pullman after a 35-year career in range management; college town, sports benefit his lifestyle



WSU alumnus, Sid Houpt, describes his favorite things about his time at WSU on Monday afternoon at Neill Public Library.

EMMA LEDBETTER, Evergreen news editor

If you visit Neill Public Library on a given weekday afternoon, you may spot a gentleman sitting quietly at a desktop computer.

Sid Houpt is a resident of Pullman and he now spends a lot of his time at the library, he said, but still makes his way onto campus every few weeks. He graduated from WSU in the early 1960s and is a Cougar athletics fan through-and-through.

After attending junior college in Longview for two years, Houpt came to Pullman.

“I can’t honestly remember why I even came to WSU,” Houpt said. “I’ve always been, with my family, somewhat into sports … and we hated the Huskies.”

Houpt recalled listening to games on the radio and being disappointed that he hardly heard any coverage of WSU athletics in the Seattle radio market. While he was a student here, he enjoyed attending sporting events.

During his two years at WSU, Houpt was considered a “general studies” major.

“I didn’t know what I was wanting,” he said. “Which I don’t think is unusual for that stage of your life.”

Houpt ultimately received his degree in range management, a program that WSU stopped offering about a decade ago. Up until about two months before his graduation, Houpt didn’t know what type of work he would be doing once he left WSU.

“The draft was in place then, and I was going to be, probably, drafted,” Houpt said. “But one of my advisers gave me the application for the Bureau of Land Management.”

Just a few days after he graduated, Houpt found himself in eastern Oregon working for the bureau, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

During his career managing public lands, Houpt spent 20 years in eastern Oregon, 12 in Nevada and five in New Mexico. When it came time for him to retire, he knew there were plenty of places he could return to.

“There were three categories of people,” he said. “The vast majority retired wherever their last work spot was … then there was the other group that went back ‘home’ … then there was the other group like me, which went wherever we wanted to go.”

Houpt narrowed his choices down to Missoula and eastern Washington. He settled in Clarkston but relocated to Pullman after just two years.

“I was driving up the hill too often,” he said.