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Wildlife biologist turned writer. This is my library of ramblings on everything from conservation to noisy neighbors.

How wilderness can make you a better human being

In our “look at me” culture, manifested in fashion trends and the accrual of material “things,” where we measure our worth in likes and followers, and unknowingly wither under the ache for attention, nature offers us the greatest medicine…indifference. …

As I write, the cold creeps into my hands. Words and letters that once came in swift, arcing motions are now stiff and abrupt. Sunlight filters evenly through a blanket of wooly clouds, no shadows, no brights; a harbinger of the colorless times to come.

“They say we only have…

There’s a tree outside my window

That catches fire every morning,

When the dawn light slowly flickers

Through the ripples in its awning.

Shimmering and winking

Like the embers of a dying fire,

Burning hotter and brighter

Until the rising sun retires.

The tree stands tall and bright,

Rising high above its neighbors

With bark and leaf, and trunk and root

Through rain and heat it labors.

Silhouetted by the morning

It’s burning branches sway,

To and fro they wave and sing,

Like an accordion at play.

But the song will soon be over

When the long night sets in

When winter cold grows bolder

And the morning light grows thin

Wind will bellow from the mountain,

Swiftly racing down its slopes.

Blowing out the fire and

Erasing summers hopes.

Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash

What the conservation movement can learn from science of habit-forming and the four obstacles that stand in its way.

You are the product of your choices and the world is the sum of all of our habits. The world we live in is built on decisions.

So you decide you want to be a morning person, or you’re sitting on the couch watching James Bond and think, “man I…

Career advice from a beaver

What would they think of me sitting here, feeling sorry for myself? What would they think of the “problems” I have? Could they relate at all? The world has changed so much since people last inhabited these ruins hundreds of years ago. …

How nature provides perspective

Every step up the trail caused a jarring thud that shuddered through the grimace on my face. The ground was solid underneath my boots, still cold from the waning night, and the fresh smells of fir and spruce filled the air as I made my way to the tree line…

Photo by USGS on Unsplash

The responsibility of now

For us to have arrived at this moment, sitting at our computers — searching for distractions or pondering the problems of the world — humanity has inflicted untold damage to itself and the globe. Though we may not have done anything wrong as citizens of this inherited world, we nonetheless…

An abandoned mine

Frustration was, and still is, the breeding ground for the modern conservation movement. But from that fertile soil of overwhelming emotion, we rebel against the illusion of powerlessness, and seek to change the world.

I can remember flying home for my grandmother’s funeral a few years ago. An elderly couple…

American Alligator

My journey West in search of puzzle pieces

During my first internship out of college, I shared a small house with two other interns. Tucked into the dense pine and cypress forests of south Florida, we were hired by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to help manage two different national wildlife refuges (NWR).

Florida Upland Scrub, Slash Pine Trees and Cabbage Palms

A masterpiece of scars and smiles

What words are going to propel you, what syllables will stick with you? What sights and sounds, or feelings will remain when all else is stripped away by time? You never know what experiences are going to help you in the end. …

Leif Johnson

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