Click on the photo for more information about each author.
Bill Finch is executive director of Mobile Botanical Gardens in Mobile, Ala., a senior fellow with the Ocean Foundation, and an award-winning writer.
Finch has also been state conservation director for the Alabama Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, and for 20 years has written an award winning column for the Mobile Press-Register. While working as a senior writer, an environment editor and assistant managing editor at the Register, Finch and his team won numerous regional national awards for their reporting and writing, including the Headliner Award, the Scripps-Hoaward Meeman Award for Environmental Reporting, and the John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism.
Finch, a native of Mississippi and a graduate of Warren Wilson College in North Carolina, lives in Mobile with his wife, Vikki. He has a two-hour radio show each Sunday on FMTALK 1065, and has a feature segment each Friday on local CBS affiliate WKRG. He is a founding partner of Restore Coastal Alabama; 100-1000, and is developing two new books focused on biodiversity and landscape.
Beth Maynor Young has been working as a conservation photographer in Alabama for many years. Her interest in the longleaf pine eco-system solidified in July of 2005 having dinner with Rhett and Kathy Johnson at the Dixon Center, listening to stories of what seemed to the biggest restoration effort in the country, on the ground, happening under the radar and being told with either early 1900's photography or something less than professional. A story that was southern, about one of the most diverse ecosystems in North America second only to the rain forest and maintained by fire. It's a great story. She and Rhett decided to do a book to support the efforts of the Longleaf Alliance.
"The photography was a journey of discovering this diverse ecosystem lead by many guides and teachers, through some amazing stands of longleaf from Virginia to Texas. Rhett is one of the hardest working people I know and it became clear that he would not have time to write the book himself so we brought in our friends Bill Finch and John Hall. Bill sank his teeth into this project with a tenacity that defies logic, a deep understanding of the mystery of coastal plain ecosystems and the cultural history that has shaped them. We handed the amazing team at University of North Carolina Press the elements of a very complex book which they turned in to a work of art. This book has many authors, only four of which are recognized on the cover, that have helped to tell this story by giving generously of their time, access to property or by covering the expenses."
Rhett is President and a co-founder of The Longleaf Alliance. The Alliance is recognized as the premiere organization dedicated to the restoration and conservation of longleaf pine ecosystems across the range of the species. Relying on education, outreach, technical assistance and applied research, the Alliance has led a resurgence of interest in longleaf ecosystems working with an array of public and private partners to champion both the ecological and economic values of longleaf pine forests.
Rhett served as the inaugural Director of Auburn University's Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center located near Andalusia, AL from 1979 to 2006 before retiring from the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences faculty.. The Dixon Center is a 5300-acre educational, research and working forest located in the heart of south Alabama's longleaf region. Armed with a wildlife biology degree from North Carolina State University and a M.S. degree in forest management from Clemson University, Rhett has been a regional leader in promoting forest and wildlife management practices based on sound ecological principles.
Rhett's professional interests and expertise include threatened and endangered species, multiple-use forest management, wildlife management, fire ecology, and longleaf pine management and restoration. He has served in many professional leadership positions including chair of the Alabama and Southeastern SAF, The Alabama State Board of Registration for Foresters, the Alabama Chapter of the Wildlife Society, and President of the Alabama Wildlife Federation. He is an SAF Fellow and was inducted into the Alabama Forestry Hall of Fame in 2007. Rhett received the Governor's Award as Alabama Wildlife Conservationist of the Year in 1985 and as Forest Conservationist of the Year in 1996. He received a Weeks Act Centennial Award from the US Forest Service in 2011. Rhett will retire from the Longleaf Alliance in October of 2012 after 18 years.
Dr. John Hall is the Director of the University of West Alabama's Black Belt Museum. He is retired from the University of Alabama Museum of Natural History where he was Director of Natural History for more than 20 years. There, he led yearly archaeological and paleontological excavations where the teams camped in the Alabama backwoods for six weeks at a stretch.
For years, John has been fascinated with the prehistoric appearance of the Southeast - particularly in pre-Columbian Indian times - the canebrakes of the river bottoms, the prairies of the limestone areas and the endless longleaf pine uplands. His research and writing is often concerned with the intersection of history and natural science.
He was delighted to be invited to participate in the new Longleaf book.
He is a frequent contributor to Alabama Heritage Magazine, where he has traced the stories of William Bartram, Prince Madoc, Alabama Geology and the fall of the Sylacauga 1954 Meteorite.
With Beth Maynor Young, he is the co-author of the University of Alabama Press's prize-winning 2009 book Headwaters: A Journey on Alabama Rivers.