WEA, SFC, and Endowment Partner in Program to Increase Minority Consulting Foresters

The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment), in partnership with Wiregrass Ecological Associates (WEA) and its parent company Southern Forestry Consultants (SFC), have announced a pilot program to create more diversity within natural resource professions.  The need for diversity in forestry and natural resource consulting is imperative, not only to address minority communities that are underserved from the forestry profession, but also to foster more inclusive relationships between land owners and professionals that have not existed historically.  WEA and SFC will engage the first apprentice under this program and work with the candidate to develop and implement a robust professional development and training program. The Endowment will engage with both WEA and the apprentice to garner feedback that will allow program enhancements and the sharing of best practices with the broader community.

“Years of investment in our highly-successful Sustainable Forestry and African-American Land Retention Program designed to expand the ranks of black families engaged in active forest management, highlighted the disparity of minorities in the ranks of consulting foresters. Increasing the number of foresters and forestry technicians representing various people of color not only increases the number of bright young natural resource professionals overall – which is greatly needed – but it also increases the likelihood that more minority landowners will become interested and engaged in forest management,” said Carlton Owen, President and CEO of the Endowment. “When all is said and done, a talented and diverse army of consultants benefits both forests and the communities that rely on them.”

The People of Color in Forestry Apprenticeship Program will undoubtedly have a tremendous impact in addressing the unique challenges and needs of natural resource stewardship in underserved and socially disadvantaged communities.  The benefits of this program will serve not only the natural resources profession but also future generations of minority land owners, through engagement around the retention, legacy, and heritage of forest management. WEA and SFC are proud to be the lead consulting firm to take part in this visionary endeavor.

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The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities is a not-for-profit public charity working collaboratively with partners in the public and private sectors to advance systemic, transformative, and sustainable change for the health and vitality of the nation’s working forests and forest-rich communities  – www.usendowment.org 

Harvey joins WEA as Region Manager & Senior Forester

Wiregrass Ecological Associates, LLC (WEA) and Southern Forestry Consultants, LLC (SFC) are pleased to announce Alexis (Alex) A. Harvey has joined our team in the Gulfport Office. Mr. Harvey will serve as the Mississippi Region Manager for WEA and Senior Forester for SFC.

He holds a B.S. degree from Mississippi State University in the Forestry with a Wildlife Management concentration. He is also a Registered Forester in Mississippi and Alabama and a Forestry Technical Service Provider in Alabama with the USDA.

Prior to coming to the consultancy world, Mr. Harvey served as Sustainable Forestry Program Manager with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund in partnership with the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In this role, Mr. Harvey helped to develop and pilot the African American Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention Program which has garnered high accolades.

Under appropriations from the Environmental Protection Agency, he also developed a program to address the unique challenges and conduct outreach and education for underserved and socially disadvantaged landowners around the issue of conservation easements.

Prior to working in the nonprofit world, he also has over 7 years’ experience with the USDA Forest Service on the Allegheny National Forest in northwestern Pennsylvania. In this role, he gained expertise in natural resources policy, silviculture, oil and gas development on federal and private lands, watershed management, human dimensions of wildlife management and a host of other environmental issues including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Mr. Harvey has worked with two state agencies (Mississippi Forestry Commission and Florida Division of Forestry) as a Service Forester. Mr. Harvey is also the President of Legacy Land Management, LLC which is a Certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) in Mississippi and Louisiana and a Certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) with the Mississippi Development Authority.

We are excited to have Mr. Harvey join our team in Mississippi and contribute his project management experience in both silviculture and governmental affairs. He is excited to help lead our Mississippi operations into the future.

Carroll Discusses Landscape Management Planning at ATFS Leadership Conference

The American Forest Foundation (AFF) kicked off its annual American Tree Farm System (ATFS) National Leadership Conference in Louisville, Kentucky this week. Southern Forestry Consultants (SFC) and Wiregrass Ecological Associates (WEA) were excited to have Austin Carroll invited to speak during the conference on the future of landscape management plans in the ATFS. Landscape management plans are a growing, valuable tool to help navigate one of the biggest barriers to landowner forest management and forest certification, the management plan itself.

Mr. Carroll, a Registered Forester who led the development of the initial ATFS Landscape Management Plan (LMP) during the Florida panhandle pilot project, spoke during the session titled, Landscape Management Plans: Where to Next? He discussed lessons learned during the pilot project and how those lessons are being used to implement additional landscape plans throughout the country. SFC and WEA are currently working with AFF to lead the efforts for creating state-wide LMPs in Arkansas, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Florida. Through coordination with partners and stakeholders in each state, Mr. Carroll and the SFC/WEA team are developing this innovative tool to advance forest certification opportunities and encourage forest management.

Mr. Carroll, a partner at SFC and Vice-President at WEA, previously presented at this conference during 2017 when it was in Greenville, South Carolina. He holds a BS and MS from Mississippi State University in Forestry and Wildlife and Fisheries Science, respectively. He earned his MBA from the Warrington College of Business at the University of Florida. His work at WEA includes developing and creating landscape level biodiversity strategies for industrial forest resource companies to meet forest certification objectives.

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The American Forest Foundation (AFF), is a forest conservation organization that works on-the-ground with family forest owners, partners and elected officials to promote stewardship and protect our nation’s forest heritage. A commitment to the next generation unites our nationwide network of forest owners working to keep our forests healthy and producing the clean water, wildlife habitat and sustainable wood supplies that all Americans count on from forests. The American Tree Farm System® (ATFS), administered by AFF, is a sustainability program that provides family and private forest owners with support and tools to ensure their forests deliver the clean water, wildlife habitat and sustainable wood supplies all Americans count on. – https://www.forestfoundation.org/

Bourgoin joins WEA as Project Manager

Wiregrass Ecological Associates, LLC is pleased to announce that Stefan Bourgoin has joined our team as a Project Manager and Senior Biologist. Mr. Bourgoin holds a B.S. degree from Birmingham-Southern College in Biology and M.S. degree from Florida State in Biological Oceanography. He is also a Certified Ecologist with the Ecological Society of America and active in the Tallahassee Association of Environmental Professionals.

Most recently, Mr. Bourgoin served in Tallahassee, Florida as a Senior Scientist within the Southeastern Sciences Group for Atkins, an international consulting firm. Prior to leaving Atkins, Mr. Bourgoin served proficiently in both the coastal marine and terrestrial ecology environments. He has over 9 years of environmental science and project management experience working with clients in the aviation, energy, governmental, real estate, and transportation market sectors.

Mr. Bourgoin’s expertise includes resolving environmental-related aviation issues, natural and water resources management and policy, regulatory permit acquisition and compliance/reporting (including NEPA), and ecological research and monitoring in ecosystems across the southeastern U.S, ranging from Louisiana to South Carolina.

His past experience has given him extensive knowledge of aquatic and terrestrial habitat management and  conservation practices; stream condition index (SCI) implementation; water quality assessment; wildlife and
fisheries population management; silvicultural and mitigation area design and management; threatened and endangered species surveys, relocations, and management; Geographic Information System (GIS) desktop and field-based implementation; and coastal restoration following anthropogenic impacts.

We are excited to have Mr. Bourgoin join our team in a project management role and bring his expertise in marine, terrestrial, and aquatic ecosystems to our clients. He looks forward to meeting with current and new clients to discuss their environmental needs.

Hurricane Michael Category 5 Wreaks Havoc

Hurricane Michael’s category 5 force winds wreaked havoc on the forestland in the panhandle of Florida, Southwest Georgia, and Southeast Alabama.  The chaos that followed left landowners across the region wondering what to do next. As consultants, we scrambled to secure opportunities to salvage what was left of our clients’ long-term investments, realizing the impossibility of getting to all the damaged wood in the region.  As the state and federal legislatures deliberated about how to provide assistance, several agencies offered relief and/or direction on how to proceed. See the links below for important information pertaining to relief programs.