RGS & AWS is happy to announce that Jesse Rock has joined the Northeast conservation team as the New York Wildlife Forester. In partnership with Indiana University of Pennsylvania-Research Institute, American Bird Conservancy and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Jesse will be working with private forest owners and local conservation partners in New York’s St. Lawrence Valley region to connect them with NRCS’s Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) funding opportunities.
His role will be to conduct outreach, draft forest management plans, and to prepare & implement forest stand habitat restoration outcomes. This WLFW partnership directly assists in the recovery of the Golden-winged Warbler (GWW), Ruffed grouse, and dozens of other forest-dependent birds and wildlife species. Like Ruffed grouse and American woodcock, GWW is a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in New York’s State Wildlife Action Plan that benefits from sustainable forestry practices & working lands conservation efforts that are focused on bringing back balanced forest age classes and conditions across the region.
A native of the region, he has spent countless hours afield hunting and fishing the lowlands of the Hudson Valley up through the High Peaks of the Adirondacks. His passion for the outdoors drove the course of his education with undergrads in environmental science and ecological restoration along with a master’s degree in natural resource conservation focusing on both aquatics and forestry.
For the love of hunting and fishing, he thanks his father and for the appreciation of the principles of ecology, Aldo Leopold. “The first time he read ‘A Sand County Almanac’, he was enthralled with the concept of finding the obscured connections of the natural world. To think that understanding every possible detail of the smallest woodland flower was akin to comprehending the breadth of the cosmos in its complexity, fascinated me to no end.”
Jesse also defines his view of conservation through the words of Aldo Leopold as “A conservationist is one who is humbly aware that with each stroke [of the axe] he is writing his signature on the face of the land.” In explanation, Jesse states that “Every action we take in nature has a domino effect of impacts with the course of those impacts influenced by the biases that drive our decisions. Even those decisions that are deemed good can result in some form of negative effect. In taking any action, we must recognize that each choice is influenced by our own personal bias; our opinion of what is best. For example, by choosing to manage between aspen and balsam, I may choose the aspen if my mind’s concerns are with grouse. However, if they be with hare, I may spare the balsam.”
The recognition of both sides of the ecological coin allows for a deliberate approach to management success.Jesse describes himself as a “wool and walnut kind of guy” and you will often find him sporting a shotgun, rifle or fly rod a century his senior. “For me, it’s the enjoyment of bringing living history with me afield. It’s an emotional connection to the past, and an heir of respect to those who inspired me.”
His first interest with the ways of the past came about from a gifted side-by-side made by Baker in 1916. With 32” barrels and extra full chokes, it’s practicality in the grouse woods was minimal. However, for turkeys, it’s as well suited as the day it was made. “Just to keep that old gun running I had to teach myself some basic gunsmithing. It was from there that my interest in bringing back pieces of history with all their stories archived in every mark of wear was born”.
While completing his undergrad, Jesse worked as a wildlife researcher and educator for the NYS DEC and the Wildlife Conservation Society. In completing his master’s, he taught undergrad courses at Paul Smith’s College and developed research assessing the health of streams and riparian forests that is currently going for publication.
If you or your contacts are forest landowners in the St. Lawrence Valley or Northern Adirondacks of New York and are interested in our WLFW habitat program, please contact Jesse Rock at firstname.lastname@example.org. Welcome to the team, Jesse!