Josh Kelly knows the forests of Southern Appalachia deeply and more intimately than most. He was born in Madison County, N.C., went to school at UNC Asheville, and has dedicated his professional life to defending the wild forests of western North Carolina and beyond. He worked for the Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition, where he focused on identifying remnant old-growth forests on public land. His surveys of old-growth forests continue to help conservation groups protect key areas of ancient forest. He is also an active member of the Eastern Native Tree Society, which identifies and documents the largest and oldest trees in the region.
Josh currently works as a biologist for MountainTrue,where he monitors logging and development issues on public land and provide site-specific, scientific information to promote ecological restoration of our forests. “We live in a time when the human footprint on the planet is bigger than ever and our need to come together to solve environmental problems is urgent,” says Josh. “Public lands comprise the largest and highest quality natural areas in this great country and are truly priceless. The most rewarding work I have done has involved helping to steer Forest Service management towards a paradigm where we as a society give back to the land, rather than just take.”