Dr. E. Lucy Braun, whose pioneering work in forest ecology paved the way for today’s conservationists, stepped out of history to greet attendees of our Spirit and Place Festival hike. The old growth forest of Meltzer Woods offered a stunning backdrop for her comments as she looked back at the past 100 years.
“Standing in these woods puts Time in perspective,” Braun (portrayed by Constance Macy) began her 15-minute address.
Timepiece Theatre Company skillfully brought this early 20th century conservation hero to life. With stirring nature poetry from Joseph Heithaus and naturalist commentary from our own Cliff Chapman, the event offered a sense of the timelessness of nature—and the value of scientific discovery in restoring nature’s balance.
It’s a project we are proud to carry forward: Our strategic conservation plan is built on the research of people like Braun, author of the authoritative Deciduous Forests of Eastern North America (1950). She hiked some 65,000 miles in her day, writing nearly 200 papers on the deciduous forest in the eastern and midwestern region.
Along the way Braun revolutionized the way forests are managed. Instead of assessing woods by a particular tree species, she looked at forest ecology as a whole. Not only that, but she was a key figure in protecting 10,000 acres in her native Ohio. And in eastern Indiana, one of the sites she visited and documented is in our strategic conservation plan, among the many places we are working to protect today.
As we work to protect, restore and buffer beautiful places like Meltzer Woods, it’s good to remember that we truly stand on the shoulders of giants.
For more about our strategic conservation plan and scientific process, see What We Do.
Photos by Dick Miller.