Lifetime Achievement Award goes to “Forester’s Scientist” Bill Leak

Bill Leak, research forester, was honored with the Forest Service’s Silviculture Lifetime Achievement Award for 2019. USDA Forest Service photo.
Bill Leak, research forester, was honored with the Forest Service’s Silviculture Lifetime Achievement Award for 2019. USDA Forest Service photo.

MINNESOTA – For 65 years, Research Forester Bill Leak has produced science that is used to manage New England forests. At the USDA Forest Service National Silviculture Workshop held recently in Minnesota, Leak was honored with the Forest Service’s Silviculture Lifetime Achievement Award for 2019.

Leak is described as “the consummate research forester.” His accomplishments include more than 180 research publications on topics including New England forest site classification/land typing, site-related silvicultural practice, stand dynamics, modelling and integrated habitat management.

Delivering science to forest managers has been an integral part of Leak’s career, and his silvicultural craft has best been practiced through field visits to state and federally managed forests, industrial forest holdings and numerous non-government organizations and privately-owned woodlands. He has been a key speaker in more than 250 workshops, tours and training sessions over the decades.

Recently, Leak served as an instructor in the Northeast State Foresters Association-sponsored Northeast Silviculture Institute, in which he taught northern hardwoods and oak/pine/hemlock silviculture modules. These modules provided the regional advanced silvicultural training for the National Advanced Silviculture Program to not only Forest Service and state personnel but to an array of private consultants, non-government organizations and industrial foresters in New England and New York.

Leak built his 65-year career on being the ‘forester’s scientist,’ specializing in the practical application of his research observations and management knowledge. His pragmatic approach to integrating silviculture and wildlife management continues to inspire multiple generations of land managers.