Mary Stuever – SWSAF Chair – May 2010
What do falling hazard trees in Sedona, figuring out 4FRI (Four Forest
Restoration Initiative), toasting achievements, contemplating planning rules,
batting around biomass definitions, tossing fish, and planning for a national
convention have in common? These are all activities linked to CHALLENGES faced
by the Southwest Section of the Society of American Foresters.
Standing on the fallen boles of hazard trees near Sedona, foresters learned
what diseases were present that required cutting the trees down. Just one of the
stops on our Spring Meeting field trip in April, the issue packed tour focused
on recreation, travel rules, and how to keep a forest from being loved to death.
The trip pointed out the challenges facing foresters in a world where human
populations and pressures on the forest are rapidly expanding.
The day before, the technical meeting of our Spring Conference included an
inspiring panel of individuals immersed in the four-forest restoration
initiative, lovingly dubbed ―4FRI‖. Speakers from industry, environmental
organizations, and the Forest Service outlined expansive plans to apply
landscape scale treatments to improve forest health in four Arizona National
Forests. The technical meeting also included presentations on Forest Inventory
and Analysis (FIA), Recreation, Fire, and Ecosystem Management. The day
highlighted many of the challenges facing foresters on implementing landscape
scale projects that will significantly improve forest health.
That night at the banquet we passed out our annual awards, recognizing both
young and old, and celebrating the community of folks committed to fostering
healthy forests in our region. Another challenge facing foresters is remembering
to celebrate what we accomplish and recognize our peers for jobs well done.
Recently, as your chair, I attended a roundtable held on the National Forest
Planning Rule. Mixed with radical stakeholders on multiple issues, I once again
marveled at the wisdom found in the ―middle of the road‖, a place where SAF,
with our commitment to sound science and wise decision making, often settles.
The challenge here for foresters is to provide that voice of reason: passionate
for healthy forests and for the industries and activities that make them
My other foray into policy doubled up with a visit to Washington D.C. (Yes, I
will brag about my two new college graduates- my son from the George Washington
University and my daughter from Goucher College in Baltimore!) I stopped by our
national headquarters and met with Erica Rhoad, our policy forester for SAF.
Using a script presented at an SAF leadership workshop I attended a few years
ago, I foolishly said: ―Erica, I‘m willing to visit my congressional delegation,
how can I help?‖ Erica sent me off the Senate Offices to sort out various
officials on biomass definitions. Being a kind New Mexican, I probably did more
listening than sorting, and I am not sure who learned more by the encounter. It
was a good experience, and I realized there is a great challenge for foresters
to be active in forest policy issues.
In February, many of our section and national convention arrangements
committee leadership gathered to learn about tossing fish. Actually we
participated in a half-day leadership session led by SAF member Mark Anderson,
the Director of Program at Philmont Scout Ranch. Among other tools, Mark shared
a video on successes generated at a Seattle fish market where, among other
strategies, employees throw fish. The key thing is that they, and their
customers, have a great time. Our challenge, as foresters hosting the National
Convention this fall, is to insure we, along the convention participants,
remember to have a fun, enjoyable time.
That‘s the final challenge I‘ll offer here for Southwestern foresters. Please
get involved with the 2010 SAF 2
National Convention. It will be held October 27 to 31 in Albuquerque, New
Mexico. Remember, attending is one way to be involved. Presenting a
presentation, poster or during a field trip is another. Even better is
volunteering to serve a few hours in registration, the SAF store, or with the
Forester‘s Fund silent auction, (this one is easy, send an email to
email@example.com declaring your willingness). We also need help
collecting items for the auction, securing sponsors, and spreading the word to
colleagues about the event. Come be a part of this remarkable forestry event.
Challenge seems to be a word synonymous with Forestry. In the challenge,
there is an invitation to adventure; a summoning of strength. In this spirit, I
challenge you to make the most and get the most out of your SAF membership.
Opportunity is calling.