Date: 5/26/19 5:53 am
From: Joseph Neal <joeneal...>
This morning’s mail brought unwelcome news of the passing of George Landrum. George was District Ranger, Poteau Ranger District, Ouachita National Forest, in Waldron, Arkansas, when I entered US Forest Service as graduate student then wildlife biologist (1990). In making this career move, chance to work with Endangered Red-cockaded Woodpeckers on Ouachita NF was the attraction. The book “Arkansas Birds” was done. I was working a tech job in the old Department of Zoology. The radical career change was bewildering: from being on the moderately liberal campus at UA-Fayetteville, to proudly conservative Scott County, Arkansas. That, and the fact that I was trying to figure out being divorced, remain in the life of my 5-year old daughter, and tend an ailing mother who needed more than I knew how. So of course I had personal and professional crisis to weather. Sometimes I just couldn’t. It seemed impossible, dedication to woodpecker recovery delusional. Fortunately, George Landrum was the kind of person whose preferred an open door, conversation, and finally, exploration of possible solutions. When I was about to quit and go home, George would have me in his office, ask how the woodpeckers were doing, then get to the nub of it. “Sometimes we get too much on our plate,” he said. “OK to just let it drop off.” He didn’t mean drop family and bear down on woodpeckers. He meant, let it drop PERIOD. Professionally, he let us woodpecker people do our job as we saw it, with basically no interference and often with a lot of critical support. He did so even in face of bitter push back from others in the Forest Service who thought we were too protective of woodpeckers and not nearly loyal enough to traditional timber harvest programs. He was quick to smile and laugh, and understood the American public wanted both – woodpeckers and 2 x 4s. It was his job to make it happen. Happily, even on this day of his passing, I am please to remember he was a District Ranger for all.

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