Honoring Trailblazing Women at the BLM

In recognition of women’s history month, we are featuring three trailblazing women who were the first in their field at the BLM: Elaine (Mosher) Pearsons, Lynell Schalk, and Caroline Peters. 

Click below to learn more about the careers of these exceptional women who broke barriers in the 1960s and 70s.

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Giant sequoias need fire. Not only does it help release seeds from their cones, it clears out lesser trees and gives mature trees and seedlings alike the space and light they need to thrive.

Like many parts of the west, the Mariposa Grove burned regularly throughout most of these trees’ 3,000 year history (and before, I imagine, with other trees). Then white people showed up and decided, from coast to coast, that fires were bad and we must put all of them out.

This Smoky the Bear attitude had some pretty obvious effects. Here’s one grove of trees photographed in 1890, 1970, and 2000, the last being after prescribed burns were instituted.

Those pines obscuring most of the sequoias in the middle picture would choke out the ancient giants without occasional fires, completely changing the nature of the local ecosystem. It’s not safe nowadays to just let natural fires burn unchecked, not with so many people around, but controlled burns are a great tool in forest management. Prairies and savannas, too - those incredibly diverse grasslands aren’t just disappearing due to loss of space to agriculture, but also because no one’s letting them burn or maintaining them with fire. Fear it, but use it.


Simona Gabriela Kossak(1943-2007)

A Polish biologist, ecologist, author, PhD in forestry, and uncompromising conservation activist. Locals called a witch for chatting with animals, living in isolation, and for her raven, who stole gold and attacked bicyclists. Simona believed that one ought to live simply and close to nature. She resided for over 30 yrs in a cabin in the Bialowieza Forest, without electricity or running water. She shared her home with many animals, including a lynx and a boar. She fought for the conservation of Europe’s oldest forests and wrote several hundred works on the behavioral ecology of mammals. 

photos: Lech Wilczek

This is the part of my major that really makes me sad. Seeing stuff like this is just heartbreaking and brings home just how important our national forests and parks really are.

Yes logging and grazing is important… but when you look at this, you realize just how far we’ve pushed things already and it’s time to modify our habits and needs and let the forest lands be healthy.

Remember, old growth forests are some of our best carbon sinks out there!

I applied for my dream job at the Center for International Forestry Research; it’s the first position in a long time that has tempted me away from freelancing.

I realise there’s only a slim chance that I could get the job, but if I did, I would be managing their social media. That would mean some great forestry- and agroforestry-related content coming in here!

UK National Tree Week: Grafting

Grafting is a technique commonly used in horticulture, forestry, agriculture, and crop sciences to asexually propagate plants. This works by physically carving a section of plant tissue out of one plant, and inserting it onto another. Inosculation (the joining of vascular tissue) will occur after a few weeks provided that each half are kept alive and vascular cambium in contact. During inosculation, the grafting scar is typically tied up with rubber, or tape to maintain cambium contact. 

So why do we do this?
Through extensive progeny testing, plant families that exhibit the best genetic phenotype for desired traits (straightness, big fruits, fast growing) are selected and bred. Genetic gains can be large for particular traits, but grafting offers breeders more control, as they can pair desired aboveground traits, with the best root stocks. The “stock” is typically a plant selected for robust roots, while the “scion” is the plant selected for the desired traits (straightness, big fruits, fast growing, etc.). 

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Scenes from the H.A. Dubois Company. Manufacturers of fruit and vegetable boxes and baskets. Cobden, Illinois. June 17, 1941

  1. Making tops for bushel baskets at the H.A. Dubois Co. National Archives Identifier: 2129074 
  2. H.A. DuBois, Cobden, IL., manufacturers of fruit and vegetable boxes and baskets. Jonesboro Rd. National Archives Identifier: 2129071 
  3. H.A. DuBois, Cobden, IL. Manufacturers of fruit and vegetable boxes and baskets. Jonesboro Rd. National Archives Identifier: 2129072 
  4. Veneer cutting machine cutting veneer for the making of fruit and vegetable boxes and baskets. H.A. DuBois Company, Cobden, IL. Jonesboro Rd. National Archives Identifier: 2129073 

Department of Agriculture. Forest Service. Region 9 (Eastern Region). Department of Agriculture. Division of Forestry. 1881-7/1/1901
From:Series: Historic Photographs, ca. 1880 - ca. 1970Record Group 95: Records of the Forest Service, 1870 - 2008