New Forester

 

TACF Forester Michael French (far right), leans on a wild American chestnut with reforestation partners from ARRI and others during his second week of work.

Michael French of Bloomington, IN has been hired as TACF’s first Forester, for now focusing on reclaimed surface mines in PA, OH, WV, VA, and KY.  The position and surface mine project is made possible by a 3-year,  $1.1 million Conservation Innovation Grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.  The grant project is the combined brainchild of TACF and the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative (ARRI), administered by the federal Office of Surface Mining.  TACF will work hand-in-hand with ARRI to complete 12 plantings on privately-owned reclaimed surface mines in 5 states.  Each planting will be approximately 30 acres.  Landowner training, state-level planning, and instructional documents will also be part of the product created by this project.

Michael French will oversee project activities for TACF.  After the grant ends, TACF hopes to continue the Forester position.  French has considerable experience working with TACF and ARRI on chestnut plantings and propogation and should be able to get off to a fast start.  He begins his duties full-time on November 28th.

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Relationships Make TACF Special

The Annual Meeting of New England TACF chapters was well attended and snowstorm-free!

I don’t know what happened to October.  It’s my favorite month and every year I swear I’m going to savor every second of it.  It never happens that way.  I like November too (except my birthday), so maybe I’ll do better. 

October did confirm one thing, something I noticed immediately when I started 8 months ago.  The strength of The American Chestnut Foundation is relationship.  We attended the Heroes of Conservation Awards Ceremony with Ron Kuipers and, between TACF staff and volunteers, I dare say, formed the largest cheering section for any one candidate. 

We attended the Annual Meeting in Java Center, NY, and it was amazing to see so many volunteers from so far apart come together in such close fellowship. 

We attended the PA Chapter Annual meeting in the Poconos, only to be greeted by the biggest October snowstorm possibly in history.  But the show went on as the storm raged in full view outside the window.  Lots of information changed hands.  Nobody flinched until we realized we might have to stay there for a few days if we didn’t leave soon.  We got out of there as the trees began to buckle. 

Then the first week in November, on a georgeous fall day in Portsmouth, NH, the New England Chapters had their annual meeting.  And it was terrific.  And people exchanged ideas, and looked at ways to make TACF better.  They even let the new guy get a few words in.  It was good.  Marshall Case noted that the relationships and agreements that TACF has with University and other public and private partners are priceless (and mostly free!). 

It’s good to be with you.

TACF volunteers from throught the country take time to connect at the Annual Meeting in Java Center, NY