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Callie Schweitzer

Callie Schweitzer
Research Forester
Upland Hardwood Ecology and Management
730-D Cook Ave
Huntsville, AL 35801
United States
Current Research
My current research focuses on the ecological role of disturbance in hardwood forest ecosystems of the Cumberland Plateau and associated highlands. I am interested in defining the appropriate silvicultural techniques for sustaining the production of desired benefits in the region. My initial activities in this new program are focusing on understanding vegetation distribution in relation to environmental gradients and understanding structural and compositional dynamics in response to disturbance. Several studies have been installed in the region which will test vegetation manipulation treatments and allow for analysis of their impacts on the dynamics, productivity, and sustainability of upland hardwood forests. 

Current studies
  • Prescribed fire use to promote desired species composition and structure
  • Applied silviculture systems such as variable retention shelterwood harvests Wildlife habitat creation and population dynamics congruent with silviculture (regeneration and intermediate stand treatments)
  • Development of an ecological framework for forests and woodlands based on disturbance knowledge
  • Management options for mixed woods Regeneration responses to forest management and natural disturbances such as tornado-created forest gaps
  • Assisting the Land Trust of North Alabama and the Monte Sano State Park with a comprehensive plan to address non-native invasive species on over 8,000 acres of urban-forest interface.
  • Contributing to the restoration of threatened or endangered species such as the American chestnut tree (partners include the Redstone Arsenal and The American Chestnut Foundation), the Whooping crane (partners include Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities, Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge) and Morefield’s leather flower (Alabama A&M University, Huntsville Botanical Garden, Alabama Natural Heritage Program) by studying the forested habitat characteristics and associated pressures.
  • We are assessing the efficacy of riparian tree planting to better assist the Alabama Forestry Commission and the Natural Resources Conservation Service in their efforts to help landowners reduce soil erosion, enhance water supplies, and increase potential for income and wildlife habitat.
Past Research
Upland hardwood silviculture research in the Cumberland Plateau and associated highlands has a long history. Research units previously located in Berea, KY and Sewanee, TN set the stage for the next generation of studies. Our focused program of research on applied silviculture in these systems addresses current issues related to the management of these systems. Callie has been engaged in research here for 15 years, and has installed over 10 large-scale field studies in AL, TN and KY. Her work encompasses forests managed by the William B. Bankhead and Daniel Boone National Forests; Alabama’s James B. Skyline Wildlife Management Area; Forest Industry (Mead, MeadWestvaco, Coastal Timberlands, WestRock, Stevenson Land Company); non-governmental lands and private land ownerships. She is active in technology transfer, coordinating over 50 field-oriented training and short courses for State forestry and wildlife agencies, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, university faculty and students, consulting foresters and other forest managers. Callie serves as adjunct faculty at several universities, and has served on over 50 graduate student committees. She has given over 200 presentations across the US, and was invited to present her research in Denmark, Sweden and China. She has hosted several Chinese researchers and collaborated in forestry and wildlife research projects with them.
Research Interest
Forests in the Cumberland Plateau and associated highlands are an amalgam of biological composition and social structure. Using our forested resources wisely requires pragmatic science to address pending questions, and strong partnerships to apply best practices on the ground. The U.S. Forest Service’s field research work unit located in Huntsville, Alabama is engaging myriad partners to help guide the use, growth and sustainability of the hardwood forests in the area. Economic drivers, such as Brown-Forman and Jack Daniel’s need for quality white oak logs, are being coupled with the biological conundrum of regenerating oak to raise awareness of how active management and viable markets can work towards sustained solutions.
Why This Research Is Important
The upland hardwood and mixed pine-hardwood systems of the Cumberland Plateau and associated highlands provide a diverse and dynamic array of eco-system goods and services. My research aims to advance our knowledge of the ecology and silviculture of these forests to inform management decisions and establish guidelines that ensure the integrity and resiliency of these ecosystems. Restoration is a serious economic problem, requiring investment and often involving timber management. When restoration involves precommerical thinning or other tending treatments such as the use of herbicides or prescribed burning, there are major costs involved. In simple terms, dumping a bunch of small diameter trees on the ground and burning them up costs money. There isn’t enough tax payer money (whether allocated to federal lands or to cost-share programs for private landowners) to fund all these activities and to accomplish all the needed restoration in eastern upland hardwood forests. The value of timber becomes important as a revenue stream to off-set some of the costs of restoration. A conundrum- how does one use fire for restoration without causing damage to timber trees? How do we balance the damage that may be incurred and subsequent rot, tree snags, trees with holes, which create ephemeral but valued wildlife habitat, with a need to maintain an overstory for 200 or more years, and then with real costs associated with regenerating the stand? Planning for the future of our forests will allow us wise use, economic investment, and community commitment. Forestry is essential to the economy of the Cumberlands, for example, forestry is Alabama’s second largest manufacturing industry, and with the continued population growth in the area, active conservation will be imperative. Through a network of partnerships and outreach activities, we hope to educate the public on the application of conservation tools, including timber harvesting, the selective use of herbicides, and prescribed fire. Our research aims to get the urban population engaged and invested, and balance smart growth to include providing multiple uses of our forests, including wood products, recreation, and natural scenery.
  • Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D., Forest Resources,
  • Pennsylvania State University, M.S., Forest Ecology,
  • Indiana University of Pennsylvania, B.S., Biology,
Professional Experience
  • Graduate Faculty,  The University of Alabama,  2012 - Current
    College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Geology, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
  • Adjunct faculty,  The University of Tennessee,  2010 - Current
    The University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture, Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, Knoxville, TN
  • Adjunct faculty,  Alabama A&M University,  2002 - Current
    Center for Forestry, Ecology and Wildlife, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences
  • Instructor and Board of Regents,  National Recreation and Parks Association, Green School,  2010 - 2015
    National Training Center, Oglebay Resort and Conference Center, Wheeling, WV.
Professional Organizations
  • Chair,  Society of American Foresters, Mountain Lakes Chapter, Alabama,  2016 - Current
  • Committee Member,  North Alabama Land Trust,  2010 - Current
    Assist Land Trust employees and board with outreach and education related to sound forest stewardship
  • Board Member,  North Alabama Land Trust,  2009 - 2015
  • Board Member,  Huntsville Tree Commission,  2003 - 2010
  • Chair,  Society of American Foresters, Mountain Lakes Chapter, Alabama,  2003 - 2005
  • Vice-Chair,  Society of American Foresters, Mountain Lakes Chapter, Alabama,  2002 - 2003
  • Secretary-Treasurer,  Society of American Foresters, Pisgah Chapter, North Carolina,  1998 - 2000
  • Secretary-Treasurer,  Society of American Foresters, Broadleaf Chapter, Mississippi,  1996 - 1998
Awards & Recognition
  • Fellow, 2022
    Society of American Foresters
  • USDA Forest Service National Silviculture Award, 2017
    The award appropriately reflects excellence in silviculture research; producing over 150 publications in a variety of outlets, mentoring graduate students and organizing meetings that brought the latest research to resource managers.
  • Appreciation Award for Forestry Guide and Host, 2011
    Northwest A&F University, China
  • Achievement Recognition, 2011
    Group of Southern Hardwood Foresters, for tour leadership
  • USDA Forest Service Senior Leader Program, 2005
  • Award of Excellence for Research, 2004
    Society of American Foresters, Southeastern Chapter of AL, GA and FL
  • Outstanding Young Forester, 1998
    Society of American Foresters, State of Mississippi
  • National Taking Wing Award, 1997
    Public Awareness
Featured Publications
Other Publications
Citations of Non-Forest Service Publications
  • Schweitzer, C.J. 2018.  Let’s talk about fire in upland (oak) hardwood forests.  Alabama Treasured Forests 32(3): 14-15.

    Schweitzer, C.J
    . 2018. Mountain Lakes Chapter Update. Southeastern Forester 37(3): 8.


    Schweitzer, C.J. 2018. Mountain Lakes Chapter Update. Southeastern Forester 37(4): 10.


    Moore, J.M.; Schweitzer, C.J. 2019. Using prescribed fire to restore and sustain oak ecosystems. CompassLive January 31, 2019. 5 pg.


    Schweitzer, C.J. 2019. Mountain Lakes Chapter Update. Southeastern Forester 38(2): 8.


    Schweitzer, C.J. 2018. Around the Station Newsletter. Research Forester uses trail hikes to educate hikers and ThinkerCon comes to Alabama. November, 2018. Pages 5-6.


    Schweitzer, C.J. 2019. Around the Station Newsletter. “Big Tree” self-guided hiking trail. April, 2019. Page 5.


    Schweitzer, C.J. 2019. Around the Station Newsletter. Silviculture training and Earth Day. June, 2019. Page X.