David Alsop

David Alsop smilingThe house I grew up in far northern NJ had a mile of woods behind it that extended back to the mainline of the Eire RR. These woods had many revolutionary war-era stonewalls, numerous signs of being more recently cut over, and many had toppled over shallow-rooted trees and various gigantic logs of the American Chestnut that had fallen in the 1930's by an invasive fungus. Every year or so, a ground fire ignited by the stream engines of the Eire Rail Road would go running through these woods.

It took me many years of traveling through almost all of the National Forests of the Eastern United States to realize that what I had grown up with was not at all unusual. Almost all of the Eastern US forests have been repeatedly cut over, have had many fires burn through them, have seen the ravages of hurricanes, and almost all have lost the once most dominant tree of their forests, the American Chestnut.

Fifteen years later, I went home to find many streets and houses with lawns where there was once woods that I had grown up with and wandered.

This discovery, more than anything else, lead me to actively support The Wildness Society and others for their work to preserve and prevent the inroads of our steel and cement society into our National Forest system. Because of them, many people will able to see forests. Admittedly, the forests are not as they originally once were, but have been recovering from our past predations. Yet, most of them, when looked at carefully, display much of their history. All of this all must be preserved so that future generations can enjoy what we were able to enjoy many years ago.

NB: one of the few last bits of uncut forest in Eastern US is the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest in the Natahala National Forest in far western North Carolina - it has trees well over 300 years old.