TOPIC: ENTS Membership/Hello from Mollie Matteson
== 1 of 7 ==
Date: Fri, Nov 2 2007 5:28 am
I encourage anyone who does not know who Mollie Matteson is to
Google her. I think you will be very impressed with her credentials
and accomplishments. Having Mollie join us is an important leap
forward. Unexpectedly, Mollie's coming on board has sent me for a
stroll down memory lane. Ed has said the he enjoys my reminiscences.
I appreciate that. Well, okay, Ed, here comes a doozy.
I fondly recall the early years of the Wild Earth publication when I
wrote a number of tree and old growth articles for that superb
journal. In the earliy years of Wild Earth, John Davis was the
editor. Tom Butler was the art director, if I recall correctly.
Later when John moved on to develop funding sources, Tom took over a
editor. In those days, I had a lot of activist fire in the belly and
could get preachy. John Davis coined a title for me of the East's
leading old growth evangelist. I pretended to be embarrassed by the
title, but secretly, I liked it. But there were many conservation
missions that I supported. At one point, I was a member of 34
separate conservation organizations. I couldn't seem to say no.
Overall, I regarded myself as a forest activist, but in terms of my
interests, I was never anti-forestry. I had been an early admirer of
the U. S. Forest Service and had been a long time member of American
Forests. But during the late 1980s, when it was headed by F.
Dale Robertson, I became disillusioned with the Forest Service's
turn away from custodianship. That venerable agency had embraced the
notion of the forest as an outdoor tree factory. It was all about
timber quotas and sales. I saw the Forest Service as abrogating its
forest custodian responsibility and recognized that citizen
activists were needed to rein in the timber beast mentality of the
Forest Service's corrupt management structure. Smoky the Bear had
As a forest activist and contributor to Wild Earth, I was also an
old growth sleuth - as my friend John Davis also defined me. As
such, I suddenly found myself in some pretty elite company and
reveled in it. On the local scene, I was locating stands of old
growth in western Massachusetts right under the noses of management
foresters in the Massachusetts Bureau of Forestry. How could that be
happening? I wasn't a forest professional. They were the
professionals, but they seemed blind to old growth characteristics.
Somehow their perceptive apparatus had been numbed. They saw
everthing old as decrepit and in need of cutting. There were no
shades of gray. It was during that period that I got an education on
how people of different backgrounds see forests. Most saw them
stereotypically. Years later, I later wrote an essay about seeing
the forest with an attitude. It spoke directly to the myopia within
the forestry and other professions. Taken as a whole, I was
convinced that the ho
norable profession of forestry had lost perpsective. Now, I don't
think that was the case, I know it. The rise of the Forest Stewards
Guild is an example of a small group of foresters searching for
balance and the regaining of a lost forest soul.
During the early 1990s, I wrote articles on individual tree species
and on old growth definitions and identification for Wild Earth.
Dave Foreman once suggested that I combine my tree articles into a
book . At the time, I didn't think I was up to such an undertaking.
But, now that I am retired, the urge to do such a book under the
ENTS\umbrella grows stronger. Of course, I would have to rein in my
inclination to swamp my readers with numbers. As we all know, that
is my inclination. In addition, the Sierra Club Guide to Ancient
Forests of the Northeast that Bruce and I wrote left me with little
inclination to write aanother book. Articles, yes, a full book,
probably not. But writing is in my blood and the idea is once again
on the table.
In its hay day, Wild Earth attracted many superb writers who were
either distinguished scientists, naturalists, or self-taught
activists/conservationists who had pulled themselves up by the
proverbial bootstraps and had a lot to say. The atmosphere was
heady. Upstarts such as myself had the feeling that we were
accomlishing worthy goals with our articles. To be sure, it was the
choir preaching to itself. But we were expressing ourselves and it
felt good. I was once told that I was one of Wild Earth's most
popular writers. That news left me marooned in my office for days. I
couldn't get my head through the door. Joking aside, I do remember
writing an article on the southern Appalachians and getting a
wonderful, congratulatory letter in the mail from George Wuerthner.
Evidently, I had painted a compelling picture of that most exemplary
part of the Appalachain chain and made it live in a way that did it
justice. At the least, the picture I painted appealed to George
for him to write me the le tter. Boy, did I feel honored. This old
Tennessee boy, who had also become a New Englander, felt he had
found a new niche.
Within the Forest Service, with the appearance on the scene of Jack
Ward Thomas and later Michael Dombeck, the Forest Service greened up
considerably and much of my time was shifted to locating pockets of
old growth, principally in New England and secondarily in the
southern Appalachians. I took my eye off the Forest Service ball and
concentrated mainly on OG discovery and site documentation. It was
from site documentation that the tree measuring gene became
activated. Nobody was describing the full extent of the old growth
stands and it was apparent to me that there was a lack of developed
field talent in simple old growth recognition. Then, in 1992, a
friend gave me the idea for a conference series to bring together
scientists, resource managers, and environmentalists to share
knowledge about the surviving old growth in the East. The series
dovetailed nicely with the efforts of Wild Earth and Dr. Mary Byrd
Davis to develop an inventory of all known old growth in the East.
e rest is history. We've since had 8 conferences and 2 old growth
definitions symposia. The Island Press book "Eastern Old Growth
Forests - Prospects of Rediscovery and Recovery" is an
outgrowth of the conference series. I could say much more about the
series and will in time, but I'd like to now bring ENTS into the
In 1996, an idea that had been spawned a year or two earlier for an
organization that celebrated trees , took firm root at my kitchen
table in Holyoke Massachuetts, and the ENTS website was officially
born. Dave Stahle and his understudy Matt Therrell were at one end
of the table, Will Blozan was at the other and setting across from
one another were myself and the late Dr. Michael Perlman. It all
started with a bottle of Jack Daniels on the table, courtesy of Dave
Stahle, who was feeling no pain at the time. But in a nutshell, Dave
dedicated space on a University of Arkansas server and Matt
developed the website. I established an e-mail list on a local
server in Chicopee, MA. Mass Audubon had promised us physical space
at Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary and had hosted the first ENTS
rendezvous that attracted around 45 people.
Well, we've come a long, long way since that beginning. Our
accomplishments, as Ed Frank eloquently described at the 2006
rendezvous, have grown exponentially. Our website, courtesy of Ed,
is the best in the business and now we're cooking with the Google
list. Life is good.
== 7 of 7 ==
Date: Fri, Nov 2 2007 7:43 am
From: "John Davis"
Good telling of that important history, Bob. It's been a great
pleasure and honor working with you all these years.
Mollie will be a great addition to ENTS, and the Center for
Biological Diversity will be a great addition to the conservation
community of the Northeast. Particularly in the absence of the Wild
Earth journal, we really need that aggressive and ambitious advocacy
for wild Nature in our region. The Center has long been one of the
toughest and most effective biodiversity protection organizations in
the western US, and we can expect similarly effective work from them
in the Northeast now.
Some of us old Wild Earthlings are talking of trying to restart the
journal somehow, but it's very difficult to support a high-quality
hard-copy periodical without major support from foundations; and not
many foundations fund periodicals. Subscriptions alone were never
nearly enough to support Wild Earth. We depended heavily on the
Foundation for Deep Ecology; but their focus is now in publishing
exhibit-format books like CLEARCUT and WELFARE RANCHING, and in land
preservation in South America (where they are doing great work
saving the magnificent Alerce forest of southern Chile and huge
areas of Argentina's Patagonian steppe and Ibera wetlands). If
anyone ever identifies funders interested in helping Wild Earth or
something similar to start up again, plenty of writers and editors
are interested in helping ...
Thanks and welcome, Bob and Mollie!
On Nov 2, 2007, at 9:43 AM, Joseph Zorzin wrote:
The first time I met Bob "Burl Belly" Leverett and his
wife Jani, in Northampton, 9-10 years ago- he gave me a box full of
Wild Earth Magazines. It was obviously the finest magazine I've ever
seen- with brilliant writing and the most gorgeous design of any
publication I've ever seen, and I'm a magazine fanatic. I subscribed
for a few years, then during one period of poverty, I let it go- if
it's still in publication, I think I'll get it again.
By comparison, when I read standard forestry publications, like the
Journal of Forestry, they remind of reading material from Catechism