RGS & AWS is excited to announce that Lukas McNally has recently joined the Northeast conservation team. Luke is a career natural resource professional specializing in ecological restoration, but his favorite thing is to be out and about in the woods with his bird dog, Chloe.
Luke brings over a decade of experience in natural resource management and forest conservation to the team. He is a bird hunter, angler, and licensed New York State guide. He enjoys sourcing and cooking ingredients from the woods, waters, and farms of the Adirondack Mountains and Lake Champlain Valley regions of New York and Vermont.
Luke is rarely seen in public without his dog, a technique he freely admits is quite useful for making friends and building partnerships. RGS/AWS is thrilled to have both Luke and Chloe on the team.Chloe is a four-year-old, Braques Français, or French pointer, from Great Lakes Gun Dogs in Michigan. She is Luke’s first working dog. “I was a wreck for the first nine months,” he says. I thought I was constantly failing. But I realized after her second season that I had a good handle on the fundamentals. She learned quickly to be steady on wild birds. By the end of the third year, I was eating a lot of grouse and woodcock, and I knew I wanted to try guiding as a means of pushing our potential.
That winter, Chloe tore her cranial cruciate (ACL) and had a six-month recovery period after surgery. I got my guide’s license not knowing if she would hunt that fall. The vet cleared her for unrestricted activity just before the October season started.” Luke guides through The Hungry Trout in Wilmington, New York.
Luke started his career at the US Forest Service during college and went on to work across the spectrum of government and non-profit sectors including The Nature Conservancy in New York, restoration in salmon country with the Yakama Nation Fisheries Program, and emergency flood and wildfire restoration in Colorado. Luke has also administered NRCS grant funding for private landowners and launched a volunteer-powered, wildland chainsaw crew in Colorado. He has successfully secured over $1.2 million in grant and fee-for-service funding for restoration projects. Luke is also on the board of directors for the Lake Champlain chapter of Trout Unlimited.
“Luke’s experience addressing natural resource issues on a watershed scale brings a unique perspective to RGS, one that is well served to meet the needs of our focus on private land restoration for the golden-winged warbler.” Said Todd Waldron, Director of Conservation for the northeast region.Hunting and early interests enhanced Luke’s career ambitions. “When you’ve spent all day hiking up fingers and draws to put just one grouse or a pair of woodcock on the grill, fry up some potatoes and pair with the perfect bottle of wine, that’s as good as it gets, I could do that every day.”
“As an adolescent, I read stuff like Farley Mowat’s Never Cry Wolf and all the Gary Paulsen books. Rachel Carson, Aldo Leopold, Ed Abbey, Terry Tempest Williams, they came later and pushed me further, but it was the young adult stuff that first tickled my brain into realizing that there was more going on in the forest that meets the eye; and that science can help us make a few answers out of an infinite number of questions. It wasn’t until I started working for the Yakama Nation in Washington that I discovered restoration. I stepped onto a heavy construction site where an old haul road was being turned into an overflow channel for salmon habitat. They were trucking in the right size cobble for salmon spawning, revegetation crews were planting trees, and ducks poured into the slack water before the work was even finished. This was the coolest thing I’d ever seen.
”In partnership with Indiana University of Pennsylvania-Research Institute and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Luke will be working with private forest owners and local conservation partners to implement NRCS’s Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) funding opportunities. Luke will conduct outreach, draft forest management plans, and implement forest stand habitat restoration outcomes. This WLFW partnership directly assists in the recovery of the golden-winged warbler (GWW), and other forest-dependent birds and wildlife species. Like ruffed grouse, the golden-winger warbler is a species of greatest conservation need in Vermont’s state wildlife action plan that will benefit from sustainable forestry practices & working lands conservation efforts focused on restoring a diversity of forest age classes and conditions across the region.
Luke has a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Management with a Watershed Science minor from Colorado State University. His primary interest in life could be categorized as an obsession with habitat. “I am fascinated by the balance of stability and disturbance within ecosystems, and the act of humbly and carefully using the best available science and management tools to enhance habitat.” In addition to his restoration work, Luke has published in Adirondack Life and Gastronomica- Journal for Food Studies and has two essays pending with Gray’s Sporting Journal.If you or your contacts are forest landowners in the Champlain Valley of New York or Vermont, and are interested in our WLFW habitat program, please contact Luke McNally at firstname.lastname@example.org. Welcome to the team, Luke!