Freelancing is a hard hike in a tough terrain of competition. This is by way of saying don’t expect a lot here. One advantage of freelancing is following your passion – writing about what moves you, not just what’s assigned by an editor (the disadvantage is lack of a steady paycheck). It’s said a good writer writes about what s/he knows, but I’ve always written about what I want to know. Like, life, the universe, and everything -- but especially forests, because forests should rule the world if the world was sane.

Featured: O.G. oak tree

Forests of the Southern Appalachians: Repairing the Past, Defending the Future

The theme for the 2020 annual conference of the Appalachian Studies Association was “Appalachian Understories.” Conference announcements cited, somewhat vaguely, the “Mother Forest.”  This was nice to see because the globally unique Southern Appalachian forests don’t receive much recognition, especially the world-class national forest commons.  Yet these nearly contiguous six million acres of Appalachian national forests, regrowing after historically horrific logging, are the region’s best hope against climate change.  My talk plays with both “Understories” and “Mother Forest” to describe how our forests […]
Featured Image: A lone wolf resting in forest greenery

The Grimm Brothers’ Worst Nightmare: Wolves Thriving in Germany

“The Grimm Brothers’ Worst Nightmare: Wolves Thriving in Germany” was published in Rewilding Earth, March 2020. Inexplicably, this story gained me an invitation to join the Rewilding Leadership Council, which put me way out of my league. “It was Grandparents Day last August at the kindergarten in Cumlosen, a village in former East Germany. There were outdoor games, face painting, singing, and a small carousel. Then the teachers did a skit: the Big Bad Wolf and the Three Little Pigs. The wolf […]
Featured: Old, broken-down pig fence in snowy woods

Forest Forensics: Clues in the woods to historic crimes against nature, and the consequences today

“Forest Forensics” was first published in October of 2019 in Blue Ridge Outdoors Online then republished in Rewilding Earth in February 2020.   “There are no bodies, no police tape, no cluster of curious onlookers. Yet there is plenty of evidence of a historic ecological crime: the deforestation of the eastern United States and consequent massive loss of topsoil. It began slowly at Jamestown and culminated quickly just a century ago in the Appalachian Mountains. Archives document the destruction of virtually all of the vast […]
Featured: Mountains piled upon mountains: Appalachian Nature Writing in the Anthropocene

Pillars of Carbon: National Forests and the Great Appalachian Carbon Commons

“Pillars of Carbon: National Forests and the Great Appalachian Carbon Commons” is an essay that appeared in Mountains Piled Upon Mountains: Appalachian Nature Writing in the Antropocene (pp 175-185), Ed by Jessica Cory. West Virginia University Press, 2019. “Dashes of red paint on occasional trees were easy to miss, and we did. We crossed the border unwittingly, my young husband and I, lost in the woods on Cross Mountain in western Virginia. Part of the 1970’s “Going Back to the […]
Featured: Marcia Bonta - Pennsylvania forestland owners

Forests Are Our Future

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 […]