Opening Keynote Speech at Penn State University’s Forest Landowner Conference, March, 2019.
The invitation to open this large and prestigious 2-day conference was dangerously flattering. Not only did it give me the opportunity to visit my revered PA friend and writer, Marcia Bonta, and her 640 glorious acres of new old-growth. It also emboldened me to point out to the audience how much Penn’s Woods have changed from the original vision in 1681.
Faced with 600 fellow private forestland owners, I began by expounding on the meaning of public forests, of which Pennsylvania has a bountiful and magnificent amount, thus enabling me to include lots of pretty pictures in my 35 minute Powerpoint show. My point was the commons. No matter how small your woodlot – and half of all PA forestland owners own less than 10 acres — all woods contribute to the global commons of water, air, habitat for biodiversity, and natural climate change mitigation through carbon sequestration. I’m always happy to talk about Dr. Elinor Ostrom, the first woman ever to win a Nobel Prize in Economics, in 2009, and she wasn’t even an economist. She documented how people around the world have sustainably managed common resources for centuries, even millennia. But don’t think I missed the chance to use PA’s own forest history against it, challenging my audience to reverse the Legacy of Sediment we’ve all inherited from profound forest abuse.