PORTLAND, Ore. March 31, 2010. An award-winning
nature essay, written during a USDA Forest Service writers’ residence,
has won the John Burroughs Award for nature writing. The essay, “Mind
in the Forest,” written by Scott Russell Sanders, a professor
emeritus at Indiana University, stresses the author’s connection
with nature, especially his affinity for old trees, and contemplates
the larger issue of how humans engage with the natural world.
recently received the John Burroughs Award for the Outstanding
Published Nature Essay. Winning essays are chosen for their content
and exceptional literary value. The award has been given annually
Sanders wrote the piece while enrolled in the Long-Term
Ecological Reflections Program, which brings creative writers,
and other scholars to the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest in
Fred Swanson, a senior scientist with the Forest Service’s
Pacific Northwest Research Station and a science leader at the
experimental forest, helped establish the writers’ project.
“ Our intent is to bring the tools of the humanities to the
study of forests and watersheds where we have so long used the
tools of science,” Swanson says. “We are so pleased
with this well-deserved recognition of Scott’s wonderful
essay. Scott and other visiting writers have revealed qualities
of the forest that have been invisible to the hundreds of scientists
working there for more than 60 years.”
In addition to the Forest
Service, the project receives support from the Spring Creek Project
for Ideas, Nature, the Written Word,
Oregon State University, and the National Science Foundation.
It has hosted 25 writers to date, including Sanders.
his time spent in the Andrews Experimental Forest, among the
great trees and devoted researchers, was profoundly moving. “I’m
grateful for the opportunity to explore such a powerful landscape,” he
said after receiving the award, “and I’m grateful to
Orion Magazine for publishing the essay about what I discovered
there. Earth is not divided among disciplines or departments; it
is whole. We will come closer to imagining that wholeness if writers,
scientists, foresters, philosophers, policy makers, and others
concerned about the health of the land come together for shared
experiences and conversation.” The award was presented during
ceremonies at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
“ Mind in the Forest” was published
in Orion Magazine, a leading arts and literary publication. The
Orion Society’s mission is to be a significant cultural force
for healing nature and community. The John Burroughs Association
presents annual literary awards to honor John Burroughs (1837 – 1921),
a naturalist and essayist whose 23 volumes of essays is an important
part of American literature.
Note reporters: Photos provided upon request.
The Pacific Northwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service,
is headquartered in Portland, Oregon. It has 11 laboratories
in Alaska, Oregon,