Author Archive: Michelle Werts


A Hoot in the Forest

One of my very first “science” reports back in elementary school was on the snowy owl. Years later, that same school system would introduce me to dissection via an owl pellet — much, much better in my estimation than the cliché of a frog. Through these formative school experiences, I’ve always had a soft spot […]

Americans Head Outside

Last year, 90 million Americans (about 38 percent of the population) engaged in some form of wildlife recreation — from hunting and fishing to wildlife watching. According to a report released yesterday by the Department of the Interior (DOI), this equaled $145 billion spent on licenses, gear, trips and more — making up one percent […]

Weathering the Weather

Traditionally, in the U.S., August weather is described as the dog days of summer. (Fun-fact alert: The expression “dog days” goes back to the Greeks and Romans who noticed that Sirius — the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major, meaning large dog — would rise at daybreak and therefore thought it brought the summer […]

Happy Birthday, Smokey!

Today, one of the most famous bears in the country celebrates his 68th birthday. The U.S. Forest Service and Ad Council’s famous Smokey Bear made his first appearance back in 1944 with the tagline “Smokey Says – Care Will Prevent 9 out of 10 Forest Fires.” And while Smokey’s visage has undergone many changes over […]

Carbon-rich Coastlines

At American Forests, we’ve long recognized the importance of mangrove forests — by doing reforestation work for them and discussing them in our magazine and right here on Loose Leaf — and according to new research, protecting these forests should be seen as an affordable way to offset CO2 emissions. Mangrove forests, which grow in […]

A Scary Picture

As the well-known saying goes, “A picture’s worth a thousand words.” Well, how about two pictures? First, there’s this satellite image released by the NASA Earth Observatory of lodgepole pine forests near Grand Lake, Colorado on September 11, 2005. Now, the exact same location just six years later. Where did the green go? What happened to […]

On Time Departures

I am fascinated by annual migrations. I find it remarkable that so many creatures around the world are able to make the same trek season after season, year after year, when most humans these days have trouble navigating without their smart phones or GPS units. However, the mind-blowing regularity of some species’ habits may also […]

Spying on Bears Live

A few years ago, I vacationed in Alaska, and while I was lucky enough to see some caribou and moose while in Denali National Park & Preserve, I must admit I was a bit disappointed not to encounter — from a safe distance — a bear. Well, on Tuesday, Alaska’s Katmai National Park & Preserve […]

Tales of Snow Leopards and Beetles

Oftentimes, environmental news follows similar themes and patterns: forests are being lost to industry, development, climate change, insect and pests, disease, etc. Every now and then, though, the news gets flipped on its head, showing that nature is a complex, interrelated web — as was the case with a few stories this week. Usually, I […]

Oh, How I Love Forests

Last Friday marked my one-year anniversary at American Forests. At times, it seems like I’ve been toiling away on behalf of forests for much, much longer, but at others, it feels like I’ve only just begun. Maybe this dichotomy is due to the fact that crusading for and protecting the environment is a never-ending task, […]