Tom Leskiw

Leskiw family 


About Me

I retired in July 2009 following a 31-year career with the U.S. Forest Service. The lion’s share of my career was spent on Six Rivers National Forest in northwestern California. 

Over that time, I’ve worn many hats with the agency: inspecting water well drilling, road and trail construction and maintenance, and fish habitat improvement projects.


1987 was a watershed year for me. An opportunity arose to leave the engineering department to fill an interdisciplinary position in the fish, watershed, and wildlife departments. The change would come with two drawbacks: the work would be less than full-time and it would require a cut in pay. No matter. I couldn’t resist the lure of joining a merry band of... well, “fish-heads” is what we called ourselves.


For the next 22 years, I designed and implemented habitat restoration projects for beleaguered salmon and steelhead. Snorkeling to count juvenile and adult fish, keeping tabs on spawning salmon, revegetating riparian areas and landslides, and, further upslope, decommissioning old logging roads that were no longer needed kept me busy. Wildlife work included conducting breeding bird surveys for 14 years; 5 years of field work in support of the “Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Humboldt County;” and monitoring threatened, endangered or sensitive species (Marbled Murrelet, Peregrine Falcon, Northern Goshawk, and Bald Eagle). I’ve incorporated my work experience into many of my essays.   


I live outside of Eureka, California, on 3.4 redwood-filled acres with my wife Sue and daughter Gypsy (a rat-fox terrier). I’ve traveled to experience the natural world, mainly birds: Hawaii and the lower 48, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, South Africa, and Madagascar.


Beginning in 2004, I’ve increased my efforts to help foster the next generation of naturalists by serving as a judge for our local Science Fair and organizing and serving as a judge for a Student Nature Writing Contest for our local Audubon chapter. Reviewing the entries each spring is immensely satisfying—a welcome antidote to the oft-voiced sentiment that nature no longer has a place in young people’s lives. (The results can be reviewed at in the special Children’s Issue of our Audubon newsletter published each May).


Serving as a board member for a land trust and Audubon Society chapter, and, together with Sue, conceiving and organizing a Native Plant and Wildlife Garden Tour, have strengthened my ties to community. Currently, I serve on the advisory board for the Humboldt Bay Trails Trust. It is very exciting to be connected with those trying to expand an existing trails system to over 50 miles long, stretching from Patricks Point to Blue Lake to Fortuna.


At a 2005 Forest Service conference, the Six Rivers geologist posed the question, “How do we, as scientists, affect change in an increasingly ecologically illiterate world?” Another friend and former co-worker hands out business cards that describe his position as “Boundary Spanner.” These kinds of questions and perspectives resonate with me, as I view the scientific story as inseparable from the literary one. Writers who explore the science-humanities interface never fail to inspire me.   


Contact Information:

email at Tom Leskiw



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