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103 c h a p t e r 3 The Early Years of Tall Timbers Research Station During the 1950s, after I came to work for Mr. Stoddard, there slowly emerged a conversation about creating an institution for scientific research that would carry on the work in the Red Hills that had been initiated by the Quail Investigation in the 1920s. Mr. Stoddard was obviously the key to that, as so much of the management knowledge we were working with had resulted from his careful experiments and observations. But with Ed and Roy Komarek, we also had two other good scientific minds to add to the mix. The idea was to find a way to house and fund scientific research on the longleaf system that could continue to inform conservation and practical land management. The eventual result was Tall Timbers Research Station, founded in 1958. 104 chapter three To really understand how Tall Timbers Research Station came to be, you first have to understand the community from which it was created. As a research station, Tall Timbers materialized through a great deal of intentional thought and purpose, but it was also an organic institution that sprang from an extraordinary community of naturalists living in the area. Nobody was in this for his own personal gain or for scientific notoriety; it was done out of sincere curiosity and concern. Henry Beadel, Herbert Stoddard, and Ed Komarek founded Tall Timbers to study and perpetuate the longleaf-grassland plantation landscape they had been working on for years and years. While it is rarely mentioned in the official histories of Tall Timbers, Roy Komarek and I were founders as well. Living at Sherwood gave Julie and me access to Mr. Stoddard’s friends in the area. Mr. Stoddard’s closest personal friend was Henry Beadel, who lived at Tall Timbers Plantation just across the Georgia-Florida line. Mr. Beadel’s uncle purchased Tall Timbers in the 1890s, so he had been around the Red Hills area for quite a while. He started coming down every winter as a younger man, and he bought the place from his uncle in 1919. Mr. Beadel was born to a wealthy family in New York, took a degree from Columbia, and was a practicing architect for many years. He loved Tall Timbers, and, after World War II, he decided to take up fulltime residence down here. He and Mr. Stoddard were about the same age, and they hit it off from their initial acquaintance at the start of the quail study. Mr. Beadel differed from the other preserve owners in that he was a naturalist first and a hunter second. He was an excellent amateur ornithologist and photographer, and Mr. Stoddard recognized that from the beginning. He even commented in his Quail Investigation field diaries that Mr. Beadel and his wife were “both intensely interested in Natural History and he is really quite a naturalist, having a knowledge of the majority of the birds and reptiles of the vicinity.” Mr. Stoddard also appreciated that Mr. Beadel had “quite different ideas in regard to hawks and owls and will not allow any to be killed on his place.”1 It is hard the early years of tall timbers 105 to overemphasize how rare that was among the preserve owners in those days. They were good people, but few had the knowledge that Mr. Beadel did. The Komareks—Ed, his wife, Betty, and Roy—had purchased Birdsong Plantation in 1938. Birdsong bordered Sherwood, and a family named Dickey had owned it since before the Civil War. It had been a working farm for generations; the Dickeys scratched out a living on that place for a long time. Most of it was in various stages of old-field succession by the time the Komareks bought it, and Ed eventually converted some of it to pasture. Ed and figure 6. Herbert Stoddard, left, and Ed Komarek, right, pursued wildlife research and land management together for almost four decades in the Red Hills. Stoddard hired Komarek as an assistant in 1934, and Komarek eventually became a leading national authority on fire ecology as the longtime director of Tall Timbers Research Station. 106 chapter three Betty lived in the old Dickey house, and Roy initially rented an apartment in town, because there was not yet a house for him on Birdsong; they fixed up a house for him later on. But he was out there all the time. We were in a rural area...


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