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'Without Wood There Would Be Hardly Any Music': Chuck Leavell Talks Forest Preservation

Chuck Leavell plays keyboards with the Rolling Stones. But he’s also a passionate environmentalist and forester.

"There was a personal connection for me. Where does that wonderful thing that's given me so much joy and a great career come from? Of course, it comes from the resource of wood, as do many, many other musical instruments. Without wood there would be hardly any music, we'd just be singing acapella," Leavell explains.

Credit David Spivey / City of Milwaukee Forestry Services
City of Milwaukee Forestry Services
Chuck Leavell was in Wisconsin last week, filming footage for an upcoming segment for ‘America’s Forests.’ While in Milwaukee, he helped the city’s forestry team chop down a tree.

He’s a longtime tree farmer and the co-founder of The Mother Nature Network. Leavell recently launched a show called America’s Forests with Chuck Leavell to draw more attention to their importance.

Leavell was in Wisconsin last week, filming footage for an upcoming segment for America's Forests. He helped the city of Milwaukee forestry team take down a massive elm tree that had Dutch elm disease — after managing to escape the disease for 60 years. The tree was then loaded onto a truck and delivered to a sawmill. The logs will be turned into something to commemorate Leavell's visit to Milwaukee.

The segment featuring Wisconsin, which includes Milwaukee's urban forestry program as well as a stop to see Lynden Sculpture Garden's magnificent trees, will air sometime in January.

Leavell says he and his team enjoyed their week in Wisconsin.

"One of the things that's been so remarkable is just the natural beauty of this state — driving from place to place, city to city, the farmland, the corn, the soybeans, the forest. It's such a beautiful, diverse landscape, and I have really gotten a lot of pleasure out of that," he says.

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Susan Bence entered broadcasting in an untraditional way. After years of avid public radio listening, Susan returned to school and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She interned for WUWM News and worked with the Lake Effect team, before being hired full-time as a WUWM News reporter / producer.