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ORLT's 30 Stories for 30 Years: Ken Cordell


You probably know Dr. Ken Cordell from his involvement in environmental advocacy around the community. We are thankful to have him as a member of ORLT and a volunteer on monitoring trips, where he brings a wealth of knowledge in forestry and wildlife management. Now retired, Dr. Cordell stays involved in conservation work, an interest that started at a young age, as he describes here:


"My interests in land and water conservation and preservation began early. Sometime around the time I was in fourth grade. We students were asked to write a short piece describing our favorite places outside after school. I described the “woods” near home, which felt like home to me. I was very comfortable being in those woods. By 10th grade I knew I wanted to study wildlife and forestry in college. I graduated at NC State in Forestry, Wildlife Management and Political Science. In one of our forestry classes we were asked to write a senior paper. I wrote about wilderness, and thus learned that there was a National Wilderness Preservation System."


"I worked summers for the Forest Service inventorying forest resources of National Forest Lands in the Pisgah NF. I had a vision that after graduation I would work for the Forest Service, out west somewhere, where I would be a horseback ranger patrolling the backcountry. I told everyone that I would never be stuck behind a desk. Well, that didn’t work out. After earning my PhD, I went to work as a scientist with the Forest Service. Throughout my career in one way or another, my attention has been directed at conservation of natural lands. Although now retired, I continue my interests in conserving and protecting natural lands and waters, and all that lives within those lands and waters. I authored over 370 technical papers and presented over 230 invited professional papers dealing with Americans’ relationship with their natural lands."

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