Author Archive: Susan Laszewski


A Birds’-eye View of Birds

They say birds of a feather flock together, but it’s not always true. Sometimes, birds of a feather — birds of the same species — are separated regionally, may be divided along lines of habitat or migration patterns or display other differences that lead scientists to classify them as distinct subspecies. For example, the greater […]

Forest Frights

Each year, when Halloween rolls around, I go hunting for tales of ghosts and the paranormal. This year, I stumbled across a haunt that’s as interesting for its status as an ecological oddity as it is for the spooky legends that surround it. In the woods just outside of Siler City, North Carolina, lies the […]

The Race to Save California’s Oaks

The clock is ticking for oaks in northern California. The 2012 U.S. Forest Service aerial survey reveals that cases of sudden oak death (SOD) — caused by the pathogen p. ramorum — have increased tenfold in the last year. The disease is fatal for tanoaks and a number of oak species and also is damaging […]

Listening to the Numbers

With last week’s release of the fall update to the National Register of Big Trees, there has been a lot of talk around American Forests lately about setting and breaking records. But not all records are ones to celebrate. July made the news this year as the hottest month on record in the United States. […]

The Enormity of Life

Colossal. Gigantic. Immense. Astronomical. Words seem small next to some of our nation’s biggest trees. Standing at the foot of a huge tree, the enormity of life can make your head spin. Those sudden flashes of understanding of our own smallness — of seeing ourselves as just a blip on the timeline of life — […]

A Golden Day for New Mexico

Last Thursday was a good day for New Mexico. On that day, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar dedicated the 559th and 560th units of the National Wildlife Refuge System, both in New Mexico. Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, meaning Valley of Gold, will indeed bring riches to New Mexico. These 390 acres are […]

Where the Giants Are

They are the largest living non-communal organisms on the planet. Some were alive when Confucius was born; some even when Ancient Rome was founded. They have stood rooted in place and thrived while fire raged around them. The giant sequoia is one of Earth’s most astounding treasures. And though they once covered North America, towering […]

Biodiversity in Peril

Last Wednesday, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) released a new list of the 100 most critically endangered species. Forests are home to 80 percent of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity, so it comes as no surprise that many of these threatened species are forest dwellers. Let’s […]

Bitter Tidings for Sweets

Growing up in Vermont, where one in four trees is a sugar maple, March meant that friends with sugar houses would start tapping their trees for the sap to make maple syrup. Winter meant sugar on snow, summer meant maple ice cream and weekends in any season meant buckwheat pancakes soaked in the good stuff. […]

Quiet Sands

Eight years ago today – after four years of support from locals in the San Luis Valley in Colorado– several public and private lands came together to form one of our most unique and biologically diverse national parks. On an average day at Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, you might hear children laughing […]