Hugh Irwin spent the bulk of his career as a conservation planner and program director for the Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition, which put his master’s degree in forest ecology to good use. There, he documented and analyzed data that showcased the region’s conservation values, leading him to publish the study “Return the Great Forest: A Conservation Vision for the Southern Appalachian Region.” In 2011, he moved over to The Wilderness Society, where he now works as a landscape conservation planner. In his work, he focuses on public lands protection and studies climate adaptation to examine the effects of climate change on the southern Appalachians. He is one of the most widely respected experts on forest planning and protection, known for his encyclopedic knowledge of every hill and holler in Southern Appalachia.

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Dink Taylor

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Emma Gatewood