Magazine article American Forests

Daniel Dey: Research Forester, Project Leader, U.S. Forest Service

Magazine article American Forests

Daniel Dey: Research Forester, Project Leader, U.S. Forest Service

Article excerpt

DANIEL DEY is a Project Leader & Research Forester in the Northern Research Station of the U.S. Forest Service. He manages a research unit that conducts research on forest management issues and problems in the Central Hardwood Region throughout the Midwest, southern Great Lakes and western mid-Atlantic region. Dey's personal research focuses on evaluating silvicultural practices to restore and sustainably manage forests, woodlands and savannas. He has done extensive work with collaborators to determine historic fire regimes in oak-/pine-dominated ecosystems throughout eastern North America. Dey integrated this knowledge in developing methods of using prescribed fire to restore native forest communities, favor fire-dependent species, reduce fuels and fire risk, restore natural ecosystem processes and create high quality wildlife habitat.

What led you to want to work for the Forest Service?

I have always loved being outside, working outside, playing outside and studying nature. I did the usual hunting and fishing as a youth, and teamed up with friends who traded insects from their collections instead ofbaseball cards. I took all the science classes I could in high school, but was most fortunate to have three years of courses in conservation. That was important in fueling my desire to have a career in natural resources. Typically, I was naïve about career opportunities in natural resources, but I knew that I wanted to manage lands for multiple-use and not just commodity production. That pretty much meant I would be applying for state or federal jobs. I was a member of the late-'60s and early-'70s youth movement in environmentalism. I led the first Earth Day observance for my high school in Wisconsin, a state known for its leadership in conservation. I attended Trees for Tomorrow camp sponsored by the Isaac Walton League, read John Muir and lived to be outdoors. When I signed up for my undergraduate major, I had no idea what a forester was or did, but my advisor told me that foresters had better chances of getting jobs than other natural resource disciplines. That's how and when I became a forester. I feel totally blessed in my work career to have worked in forests across the U.S. and Canada and with great people who love nature with a passion.

Who is your favorite fictional scientist and why?

It would have to be Dr. Emmett Brown in the Back to the Future movies. He was extremely curious, inventive, thinking outside the box, solving problems and creating a few new ones, eccentric, positive, humorous and he ended up with the love of his life and a beautiful family.

Where is your favorite spot to experience nature and why?

My favorite nature place is wherever I am outdoors, and the more natural the setting the better. It is ironic that early in my forestry career you would find me out in the forest on most days, tramping through the forests, up and down the mountains, forging creeks and rivers. But, sadly, now I am sitting at my desk working on my computer most days. My current job life just makes me appreciate being outdoors no matter where I am. I have learned to appreciate nature where ever I'm at, even if it is watching a colony of ants crawling up between cracks in the concrete sidewalk on my lunch break.

What is the most surprising thing that you have learned or discovered? …

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