For decades, thousands have watched Mick Jagger strut across a stadium stage, singing and sneering that he “was born in a crossfire hurricane,” while Keith Richards rips through the classic riffs of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”
In the center of the “crossfire hurricane” created by two of rock n’ rolls most enduring heroes stands the man who keeps them both happy—Chuck Leavell.
Leveall is the only person in the world to have both a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and an honorary Forest Ranger Award from the U.S. Forest Service. That’s because there is a whole other side to Leavell’s life in Georgia.
“My wife Rose Lane’s family has worked their land for generations,” Leavell says. “As I began to understand the deep passion and ethic they had about their land, it rubbed off on me.”
When his wife inherited about a thousand acres in Twiggs County, she and Leavell wanted to carry on that “heritage of stewardship.” They developed a tree farm called Charlane Plantation, allowing them to manage the land while he kept doing music. Burt as he learned more about forestry, Leavell became fascinated with it.
“The wonderful thing that has given me so much joy and a great career comes from the resource of wood, as do most musical instruments,” Leavell says. He began to educate himself on forestry—reading books, going to conferences, and eventually enrolling in a correspondence course. Though he still considers himself a student, he has gained immense knowledge about sustainable forest management over the years, and has become a public advocate for tree conservation. Along with public speaking on the subject, Leavell wrote a book called Growing a Better America and developed a television series for PBS called America’s Forests with Chuck Leavell.
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