Luke Wallin, Mississippi writer, musician and teacher
The Role of Conservation Writing: Essays at the
  Crossroads of Nature and Culture
in a
  Quail Habitat Restoration Project

Letter from a friend:

Quail Habitat Restoration Project Your CONSERVATION WRITING helped focus my thoughts in two ways: people who become counters, who see board feet instead of trees, pounds of beef instead of cows; and, the decision to Not intrude in Nature as being a very real choice. By way of explanation, I have ownership (which is a passing right and can be an ugly word) of a large tract of pine timber and cropland near Como, Ms. Known as the Orchard Place and adjoining Birdlands, it was, until recently, the historic home of the Memphis Field Trial and several others. Known nationally as one of the premier venues for the sport of horseback field trials, we also host fox hunts and field days for Mississippi State biologists.

Quail Habitat Restoration Project About five years ago, the bobwhite quail population dropped precipitously. We tried releasing birds in the spring, stripped disked, planted food plots, and did substantial trapping for predator control. No thing seemed to help. After reading your book, I met with my farm manager and my father, these being the two people most involved in quail habitat enhancement. We took at steel-eyed view of our efforts. The result was to let Nature be Nature. In 2006, we had trapped well over 150 possums, skunks, raccoons, and bobcats. In 2007, after reading your book, I stopped all trapping and planting of food plots. The only active habitat management we now engage in is controlled burning of pine and sedge.

Quail Habitat Restoration Project What is the true story line here? It is a hope and a prayer that there is an order and balance in Nature that will provide quail when there are supposed to be quail. This to some would be stepping over a great chasm with the hope of finding an invisible bridge. Three things have happened: much money has been saved; all those predators are dying a more natural death; and we are hearing quail sing. The numbers aren't astounding but the trend is positive.

In a subtle way, my view changed from owner to caretaker. What a great gift!

Your book adds to the good in this world. Keep at it.


Hal Crenshaw

Luke would enjoy hearing from landowners interested in consulting with him about ways to apply their own land ethic in creative ways to their conservation projects. In every action we take in the natural world, we execute choices about a desired balance of nature. The book, Conservation Writing, discusses both cultural and personal dimensions of these choices, and shows how writing about our landscapes can help bring both clarity and creativity to our projects.

Contact Luke at