About Me

I am a retired environmental writer, environmental activist, and librarian, currently filling most of my time by composing music. As a writer, I have specialized in issues around water, with two books on the Great Lakes; a book on the Ogallala Aquifer; a book about the battle to keep dams out of Hells Canyon; and a book on American water problems in general. Other books include a couple of photo studies of wildlife (with photographer Art Wolfe); a mountain-climbing memoir; an encyclopedia of environmental terminology; and books on a variety of other environmentally-related subjects, from field mouse irruptions to resource economics. I have also self-published an alternate-worlds fantasy novel aimed at pre-teens (Katie and Richard). As an activist, I was one of the founders of the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club; lobbied on water issues on behalf of the Club in Washington DC; and led the campaign to establish the Red Buttes Wilderness on the Oregon/California border. As a librarian, I occupied a seat behind the reference desk of the Ashland (Oregon) Public Library for eighteen years. I hold bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music, with minors in mathematics (undergraduate) and anthropology (graduate), and am active in the Southern Oregon Chapter of the National Association of Composers-USA, which I currently serve as president. Honors that have come my way include an Oregon Book Award (1999); a Kansas Notable Book Award (2006); a national award from the Colonial Dames of America “in recognition of a notable contribution to the documentation of life in the United States of America” (1987); and the Sierra Club-Oregon Chapter’s Holly Jones Award for activities on behalf of Oregon wilderness (1988). I’ve also been a semifinalist for the American Prize in chamber music composition (three times). I’ve been married to Melody (James) Ashworth since 1967: we have two daughters of our own, two permanent foster daughters, and four adult grandchildren. Principal hobbies Melody and I share include hiking, photography, and wildflower identification. Trivia: I once beat the reigning Oregon state chess champion in a pick-up game. For more about my work, please see my professional website: you’ll find it at http://www.williamashworth.net/.

On Big Red Mountain in the Siskiyou Mountains of southern Oregon. Photo by Melody Ashworth.