But Bill Kleiman wrote a compelling response to it that deserves to be a post by itself.
As Director of TNC’s Nachusa Grasslands, Bill is one of the most effective and respected ecosystem managers in the field. He began that position with little academic background in biodiversity conservation, but few had any such that meant much back then. He was smart, dedicated, and a person of quality. That was what it took. He describes parts of his odyssey below:
Q: Do you ever look at journals like Restoration Ecology, Ecological Restoration, Natural Areas Journal, or others. If so, do you learn anything useful from them?
Bill: For years I subscribed to all those 3 journals, but then decided they were too expensive. I see some articles online, and people share articles, and some are worth the read. Natural Areas Association, and seemingly everyone else, have webinars that are overall good.
Q: How did you learn your job managing a major restoration? Who and what helped most?
Bill: I was hired by a wise person who saw something in me they liked. I spent my first year visiting many sites and talking to many managers. I visited a bunch of volunteer stewards at their sites. I am curious by nature and there is so much to learn in this field. I took notes and photos of every cool thing I saw. I have attended many conferences and started to present at them early in my career as I felt I should participate and not just watch.
|At Nachusa, some of us long ago burned hundreds of acres, on foot, with hand tools.|
They now burn thousands, with the best equipment, and an expert team.
Photo by Charles Larry
Q: As you understand it, how do the Nachusa volunteer stewards learn what they need?
Bill: Mostly from person to person from people at Nachusa, and sometimes from other sites as we have lots of visiting resource managers. We have stewards attend many resource workshops. Like Bernie Buchholz mentored under Jay Stacy for two years. Chris Hauser knew a ton as he had various degrees and experience, and as a volunteer here he worked closely with folks to teach and learn. I email out a lot of “how to” do this and that, which nowadays are often covered in my GRN posts. Sitting around the break table and seeing people downstairs gathering tools are great ways to learn what stewards are doing, and then people go work with or get tours from them. I have been hiring people to come and lead walks with stewards to learn species and discuss management.
Q: If you were to make a list of “myths” (if you think there are any) that impede good land management for biodiversity conservation, what would they be? And what should be done about them, if anything?
Bill: Myth: “All weeds are of equal importance.” Understand the big picture of invasive weed work, and scale up. Queen Anne’s Lace is not invasive. Asian bushclover is. If you have five field days to go after birdsfoot trefoil on your preserve, then you need to use herbicide and get them sprayed before they go to seed. With weed management, you have to be effective and persistent for decades.
|Big smiles. Is if fun to apply chemicals under the hot sun. No.|
But working together to heal the ecosystem does feel good.
Photo by Dee Hudson
Myth: “Prescribed fire is not needed on my site.” Natural areas need lots of fire. Agencies struggle to get their prescribed fires done, or done frequently enough to make an ecological difference. Fire work is a big challenge. Fire is hard to implement, with plans to write, fire breaks to create, smoke to worry about, lots of equipment to acquire and maintain. There is so much brush threatening our natural areas. We need to think big, scale up and make the fire work sustainable.
|Four photos of the same Nachusa wooded hill. Top: during and right after fire.|
Bottom: woods in spring and summer, grateful for the burn.
Photos by Bill Kleiman and Charles Larry
|The burn crew celebrates another good day.|
"Selfie" by Nathaniel Weichert
Bill: The annual workshops are a success, for sure. Hanging around with other resource managers and seeing their sites, their weed struggles, their success stories, equipment….all good. Some Nachusa volunteers joined Cody and me on these workshops and we could see citizen volunteers on par with professionals.
The other product of the GRN is the blog I publish. I wish to have more guest writers and I find it is hard to get people to write posts.
The GRN also acts as a portal for researchers to find land managers.
Two bonus photos:
|Controlling the burn takes good leadership and an experienced crew.|
But it's pretty straightforward when you know what you're doing.
Photo by Dee Hudson
|Photo by Charles Larry|