Iris and I have just completed a story of her Native American ancestry that can be traced all the way back to 1627. This was possible do to a marriage of a young Englishman to a Shawnee woman and his insistence that his family learn to read, write and cypher. It turned out to be more than a genealogy search as we have uncovered so much information about key individuals in Cherokee history as well as a deeper understanding of Native American culture.
Iris's heritage, has obviously had a strong influence on my scientific beliefs as to the management of our valuable forested lands. My personal beliefs however, are also driven by in depth observation during my 30 plus years as a professional forester. In addition to the length of service, I had the privilege of practicing my profession in 11 different states. The opportunity to observe several different forest characteristics and conditions as been invaluable. Despite the great differences in tree species and forest conditions and characteristics that one will find throughout this continent, two things always remained the same. Forests are always a mosaic of communities and each community contains a multitude of relationships unique to that unit. These observations are what has lead me to the conclusion that scientific forest management practices are designed based on economic feasibility rather than the need to maintain or enhance health and diversity. I truly believe diversity is the most important goal which must drive the management of our remaining forested lands. It is the condition that provides the best opportunity to reduce the risk of catastrophic events such as wildfires and insect and disease outbreaks. This will occur, only, when the in depth power of observation is connected to the significant advancements that have been achieved in the science and technology of forestry!