Ann Camp, an expert in fire science, lights a controlled burn that will reduce the likelyhood of catastrophic fire and improve forest health.
When asked to lead the annual Southern Forestry Field Trip for the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies [F&ES], Ann Camp ‘90 M.F.S. initially was reluctant to take on the project for one basic reason: she had never visited the South.
“The first trip was to Mississippi,” she recalled during a recent interview. “I’d never been there before. But with help from the Society of American Foresters [SAF], we reached out to landowners and foresters and put together a trip that allowed students to see industrial clear cuts and different styles of management from the boutique forestry of the Northeast.”
Under Camp’s leadership, the trips have become a fixture at F&ES and are so popular that they’re routinely wait-listed. In addition to visiting large-scale tree plantations and non-industrial private landholdings, students tour mills, meet with alumni, and learn about the ecology of the South, for example at Congaree National Park. But Camp says that the trips also served as a sort of cultural exchange for both students and Southern foresters.
“Some landowners would come right up and say they don’t believe in climate change,” she said. “But we had in common that they loved the land and we loved the land, so we were able to find common ground.”
Camp recently retired from F&ES where she served as a lecturer and research scientist for nearly 17 years. In addition to teaching courses in forest dynamics, fire science, entomology, pathology, and invasive species, she served as assistant director of Yale School Forests.
“Ann has the uncommon skill of being able to relate her scientific expertise to aspiring practitioners and scientists,” said Mike Ferrucci ‘81 M.F., a forester and former colleague who co-led the Southern Forestry Field Trip. “This skill, coupled with her passion for teaching, contributed to her well-deserved reputation as a forestry professor from whom to take multiple and often quite-varied courses. The hole in our program left by her retirement will not be easily filled.”
Indeed, Mark Ashton ‘85 M.F., ‘90 Ph.D., a professor of silviculture and director of Yale School Forests, has called Camp “the main engine of the Master of Forestry program.”
After receiving her master’s degree from F&ES, Camp earned a Ph.D. in silviculture from the University of Washington where she worked under Chadwick Oliver ‘70 M.F.S., ‘75 Ph.D., now a professor of forestry at F&ES and director of Yale’s Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry.
“The pleasure of Ann is that she sets an understated, positive tone of professionalism and ‘can-do,’ but does it with such matter-of-fact modesty that she brings out the best in others,” Oliver said.
Camp’s dissertation on late successional fire refugia — or places that are less disturbed by wildfire — in fire-regulated landscapes has informed forest management throughout the West. Published at the height of the spotted owl controversy, her research helped provide guidelines for where fire could be incorporated into management plans for old growth stands — critical habitat for the threatened species.
After completing her Ph.D., she went to work for the U.S. Forest Service where she researched forest dynamics, including the effects of disturbances on vegetative patterns at stand and landscape scales, and the roles of insects and pathogens in creating forest structures. Despite being a highly respected researcher, Camp says she wanted to do more than just scientific research.