The Loss of a Founder

Mel Rezac By Jon Nordby

This past year we lost Mel Rezac, one of FOMP’s founding members.  Mel spent most of his career with the USFS across the West, finishing as the Forester at the Air Force Academy. Mel had a lifetime of knowledge about trees, soils, noxious weeds, livestock, history, and all things “ecosystem”: he knew how they worked together and was a perfect mentor to the newly formed FOMP group.  Mel’s retirement was our blessing, and he brought his knowledge and work ethic to bear serving FOMP, the Sioux Tribes in South Dakota, and the community around him.

Mel and his wife, Donna, helped found and form FOMP’s charter with Mary Carew and other local residents concerned about the Preserve. Mel’s talents made him a natural to help address noxious weed issues in the Preserve, often picking knapweed with Donna by hand after the rainstorms loosened the roots.  His soils knowledge helped guide and route some of the early trails that will be used in the Preserve for many years to come. He and Donna also helped gather and catalog much of the historical information we have on the origins of the Preserve as a seedling Nursery, including priceless maps and photos. Mel and Donna, their house backing to the Preserve near the southeast boundary, surely had some exciting hours in 1989 when the Berry Creek fire burned less than one-third mile from their house, through the Preserve and up the face of Mount Herman.

How better to honor a forester, and steward of the land, than by continuing his and FOMP’s effort to restore the fire damage by planting seedlings and trimming oak out from around existing pine seedlings in the burn area?   Please plan on joining us to honor Mel’s life and important FOMP contributions during our tree planting project, scheduled for Saturday April 7 (backup date April 14) at the Main Trailhead Parking Lot.