Mike DeMunn

Mike DeMunn/Da hā da’ Nyah: of Burdett, Schuyler County, NY

How did you acquire your land?

About 12 years ago, I acquired 10 acres—already protected with a conservation easement—from Jim and Gladys McConkey, in exchange for being a lifelong steward of their woods. The McConkeys granted an easement on their 168-acre property to the Land Trust in 2005. My immediate goal was to protect the soil, and give the barren land life again, by erosion control and broadcast seeding of native grasses and other plants.

Photo: Mike and his cat, Cowboy

Why is protecting your land important to you?

I am Seneca and also a professional forester and ecologist. My Seneca name means “he protects the forest.” I was taught that we can either be a life giver to the earth and its living things, or a life taker. I choose to be a life giver in my forestry work, and to my land where I have done all I can to bring back an abundance and diversity of plant and animal life, most of it done with just simple tools and bare hands.

Anything else you want to add?

Anyone, whether they are Native or not, can make a choice to be a life giver to the land. I choose to manage the forest and my land according to the ways of nature.