I loved working on this article. To report it, I went on many hikes with Bob, returned to these sites alone, spent time in the local archives looking for historical images, hung out with local archeologists, and prodded bureaucrats for drone permissions…it was the type of story I could really dig into.
All the work paid off, and it is the cover story for the February 2022 edition of Smithsonian Magazine: The Old Man and The Tree
“To enter a forest with Bob Leverett is to submit to a convivial narration of the natural world, defined as much by its tangents as its destinations—by its opportunities for noticing. At 80, Leverett remains nimble, powered by a seemingly endless enthusiasm for sharing his experience of the woods with newcomers like me.
Born and raised in mountain towns in the Southern Appalachians, in a house straddling the state line between Georgia and Tennessee, Leverett served for 12 years as an Air Force engineer, with stints in the Dakotas, Taiwan and the Pentagon. But he hasn’t lost any of his amiable Appalachian twang. And though he’s lived the majority of his life in New England, where he worked as an engineering head of a management consulting firm and software developer until he retired in 2007. He comes across like something between an old Southern senator and an itinerant preacher, ready to filibuster or sermonize at a moment’s notice. Invariably, the topic of these sermons is the importance of old-growth forest, not only for its serene effect on the human soul or for its biodiversity, but for its vital role in mitigating climate change.”