<
>

Stones keyboardist is model conservationist

5/31/2006

WASHINGTON — The Rolling Stones' keyboardist has carved out
a new role as the Bush administration's idea of the model
conservationist.

Chuck Leavell took time from the Stones' "A Bigger Bang" world
tour to meet Tuesday with Interior Secretary Gale Norton, a day
after playing the MCI Center. He and his wife, Rose Lane, were
named "Outstanding Citizen Stewards" for their tree farming near
Macon, Ga.

For him, it's only forests, family and rock 'n' roll.

"Her family has been connected to the land for generations, and
they have shown me the passion that they have for the love of the
land, wanting to leave it in better shape than you found it. And
that's really the mantra that we have," he said at a small
ceremony in Norton's office. "The only other thing I can say is,
This rocks!"

Norton praised the Leavells for turning the 2,000-acre Charlane
Plantation that his wife inherited in 1981 into a model tree farm,
and for frequent their public talks about what they do. She called
their efforts an example of the "cooperative conservation" that a
White House-sponsored environmental conference encouraged in
August.

"Having made his land into a living textbook of stewardship,
Chuck then used his platform as a prominent musician to teach, to
instruct and to inspire," she said. "The two of you have created
a masterpiece of words and of works."

The family tree farm raises Southern yellow pine for use in
homes and paper products. It uses prescribed burns, seasonal mowing
and feedlots for wildlife such as quail, deer and a black bear on
the tree farm, he said.

Leavell, a Democrat from Alabama, has been a keyboard player for
artists such as the Allman Brothers Band, Eric Clapton and George
Harrison. He got his start in forestry with a correspondence course
while touring with the Fabulous Thunderbirds.

He twice won the Georgia Tree Farmer of the Year Award, and in
1999 the couple was named the American Forest Foundation's National
Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year. He also wrote the book,
"Forever Green: The History and Hope of the American Forest."