U.S. Forest Service makes rock, blues pianist Chuck Leavell an honorary forest ranger in recognition of his forest advocacy and personal stewardship of Charlane Plantation near Macon, Georgia
February 27, 2012
– Chuck Leavell’s conservation ethic, his forest advocacy and his personal stewardship of Charlane Plantation near Macon, Ga., were recognized today when the U.S. Forest Service proclaimed him an honorary forest ranger. During a ceremony at the Georgian Terrace Hotel in Atlanta, Leavell accepted the award in the presence of dozens of uniformed past and present forest rangers. Following the presentation, Leavell offered a musical tribute by performing his rendition of “Georgia On My Mind.”
Leavell is one of the most sought-after pianists in modern music, playing keyboard with the Rolling Stones for 30 years. Today he was honored for another passion—conservation.
“Trees and forests are the lifeblood of our country. They give us so much,” Leavell said.
Leavell’s passion for forestry is as evident on his tree farm as it is in his other work—as author, spokesman and green entrepreneur. Today he spoke from his heart and from his life experiences, reflecting how “a conservation ethic crept its way into this rock-n-roll piano player.”
“We have many challenges to keep our American forests healthy … and yet the forests have proven to be exceptionally resilient.” Leavell said. “It’s up to us to keep it that way.”
Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell bestowed the honor and the symbolic forest ranger hat. Tidwell is a 34-year veteran of forestry as the leader of the U.S. Forest Service, where 193 million acres of public lands are managed for health, diversity and productivity.
“We are grateful to Chuck for using his platform as a world-famous musician to help spread the word about the importance of sustainable forest management,” Tidwell said. “When Chuck talks, people listen.”
Leavell and his wife Rose Lane have studied conservation techniques here and abroad, constantly finding ways to improve their wildlife management and forest management. At home, their forestry practices have turned Charlane Plantation into what can be called a textbook tree farm, earning accolades from the Georgia Conservancy, the National Arbor Day Foundation and the National Tree Farm System.
“We are all in this together, on public land and on private land. We are going to have to work together across borders and boundaries to protect the lands and waters that sustain us all. And Chuck Leavell understands that better than anyone,” Tidwell said.
“People in this country do care about environmental issues and they are looking for answers,” Leavell said, as he recounted the increasing popularity of mnn.com, a green news network he co-founded. The web-based news service covers a broad spectrum of environmental issues and guides readers toward a more earth-friendly lifestyle.
Leavell is very active in forestry and conservation issues, sitting on several boards and committees of conservation organizations. Over the years, Leavell has supported many conservation activities at the Forest Service. His book Forever Green: The History and Hope of the American Forest has been acclaimed by both the forestry and conservation communities.
“It was only a couple of short weeks ago that Rose Lane and I had the distinct honor and pleasure to go to Los Angeles and to be a part of accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammies for the Allman Brothers Band. But I can tell you,” Leavell said, “that this means every bit as much and even more to me today. I am sincere when I say that.”