Retired U.S. Forest Service employee fights for the future of trees

The lush beauty of the George Washington National Forest in Virginia is apparent to any visitor, but especially to the keen eye of retired U.S. Forest Service employee Brian Stout.

During a 34-year career with the Forest Service, Stout had many assignments, including a final one as the forest supervisor of the 3.5 million acre Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming.

On a breezy fall day, Stout surveyed the maple, oak, hemlock and other varieties of trees in the George Washington National Forest. The retired forester could estimate the age of the trees and the value of each. He spoke of the long life span of trees that can stretch into centuries. He marveled at the diversity.

“Diversity is most critical in managing the forest,” said Stout.

Stout is a man on a mission. Since his retirement, he has preached about the science of forestry, writing a 2013 self-published book called “Trees of Life: Our Forests In Peril.” He is now working on attracting grant funds for a documentary on the same subject. Plans call for producing a one-hour documentary that could air on PBS stations.

His greatest fear is the rapid deforestation of the planet Earth.

“Seventy percent of all life could not survive without forests. Science seems focused on taking, not managing forests,” he said.

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