John Schelhas, Ph.D.

Term: Summer 2017John Schelhas



John is a research forester with the Southern Research Station of the Forest Service in Athens, GA, where he focuses on social and cultural relationships between people and forests.



Integrating tribal values and uses into contemporary forest management. Legal and policy changes over the past few decades have enabled tribes to become increasingly involved in forest management on both tribal lands and in the National Forests. As scholarship and practice in this area grows, it is useful to take stock of our knowledge and experience for application in policy and management. John used his time at Grey Towers to conduct a review of the literature on:

  1. Indigenous and tribal perspectives on forest ecosystems
  2. Indigenous forest management practices
  3. Historical and current relationships between tribes and National Forests
  4. Approaches to forest management used by tribes
  5. Collaborative approaches to integrating tribal and contemporary scientific forest management

The goal is to distill some critical background information and key insights about integrating tribal perspectives, uses, and traditional management practices into contemporary forest management, which is generally rooted in the Western scientific tradition. This work will lead to a review paper and also provide background knowledge and support for John’s work with tribes in the U.S. South.



“My three weeks at Grey Towers provided a rare opportunity for focused reading and thought on my topic, as well as reflection on larger cultural issues related to forest management. The tower office was an ideal place for my work, giving me the time and space to read, take notes, and write. Walking on the Grey Towers grounds and running on Milford’s Pinchot Greenway helped me sort through what I was learning and shape my thoughts. The Grey Towers staff was helpful with practical matters and very supportive of my work. I particularly enjoyed the evening I spent with the visiting Lenape group, which connected nicely with my work. For me, being at Grey Towers, immersed in Pinchot and forestry history, provided an ideal ambience for thinking about the evolving practice of forest management.”