From the Director Fall 2021
By : J. D. McCrary, Executive Director
As our planet and climate continue to change, so must Georgia ForestWatch as an organization. Coming in as the new Executive Director has been a heartwarming experience, and while I strive to learn each of your names and more about the organization’s history and role, I also see the need to grow in parallel with our expanding concerns. Our mission and vision are clear, our direction is promising, and our organization is outstanding and healthy with unlimited potential, but the challenges we face as we move forward are equally complex and concerning. Climate change, stakeholders who embrace the commercialization of our public lands, elected officials actively working against ensuring our forest’s health for future generations, polluting corporations, and invasive species are all threats we increasingly face that need to be actively addressed. I am, however, eternally optimistic, that together we can use our collective voice to address and overcome any challenge in front of us.
Georgia ForestWatch has a 36-year history of working closely with the U.S. Forest Service and the staff and leadership of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests. I strive to continue building upon that working relationship to ensure our forests are healthy and vibrant, with the space to breathe, for all of us who wish to enjoy the forests in their natural and proper state and for our forests to remain healthy for future generations in perpetuity. To do so we must reduce, or even eliminate, the amount of commercial timber harvesting and road building taking place and planned, continue the removal of invasive species, and monitor stream sedimentation and the improper use of roads that contribute to its increase. While recreational uses of our forests and public lands are increasing, Georgia ForestWatch must support expanded opportunities for those who want to experience our forests, but must also educate our communities on how to not “love our forests to death”. Expanding upon our outreach and public education to reach broader stakeholders is a goal we must embrace. Lastly, climate change is no longer a theoretical event predicted for the future but is a reality in our lives today. While there are many approaches needed to alleviate and reverse climate change, there is no solution to climate change that does not include healthy and sustainable national forests.
I deeply appreciate the warm welcome I have received as the new Executive Director and thank Jess Riddle, and all of his predecessors, for their role in making the organization successful. As I assume my new role I stand on the shoulders of giants, including many of you who have supported this wonderful organization for decades. I look forward to getting to know you better and hopefully, with your help, will not only increase the voice and effectiveness of the organization but be a welcome member of the Georgia ForestWatch family.