Of Prairie Preachers and Sacred Gems

Of Prairie Preachers and Sacred Gems

“Twenty-five years will be too late.”  That is the tagline of the Southeastern Grasslands Initiative (SGI), and until I heard from the luminaries who assembled at Austin Peay State University on Nov 7th for a Summit to launch SGI, I did not realize quite how literal those words were.  

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Bumpersticker explained: “Want more forests? Use more wood!”

Bumpersticker explained: “Want more forests? Use more wood!”

Peter Stangel is an expert birder who has spent his life working to conserve bird habitats, and — for the past 10 years — forest habitats in the South specifically.  When Peter bought his 100 acres of pine forest in coastal South Carolina, it was a “very densely stocked, dark forest with almost no understory, habitat or aesthetic appeal." (Like the left-side photo).  He wanted to thin it—removing some of the smaller trees to allow others to grow bigger, to allow sunlight to reach the forest floor and stimulate plant growth, and to create habitat for birds and other wildlife (like the right-side photo, a Weyerhaeuser property in Mississippi). But what happens when there is no market for the wood to be removed?

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When all may be lost, but no regrets - Personal reflections on what the Trump administration’s budget means to me

When all may be lost, but no regrets -  Personal reflections on what the Trump administration’s budget means to me

When is a federal budget like a burning building?  The President’s budget made me experience deja vu. Not because I’m a seasoned political operative, but because twenty years ago the Cosumnes River Preserve Visitor’s Center in California burned down.  That project was one I had spent the last two years of my professional life shepherding to completion.  So it was with the same sense of shock, loss, and semi-disbelief that I learned the President and Department of Interior had singled out for elimination a little-known, but highly sophisticated award-winning program within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in FY18. 

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