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Signal Trees

K. Ouchley

In the last few years, GPS devices have become ubiquitous in our culture. Whether one is motoring the maze of big-city freeways or navigating a pirogue through the Atchafalaya Swamp, a GPS unit eliminates all excuses for becoming lost. From a historical perspective, this raises the question of how people navigated across wilderness landscapes 200 years before Garmin and Magellan. Without a doubt, such skills in Native Americans were almost innate because their lives depended on it. One of their techniques observed by early European explorers involved the concept of signal trees. 

Kelby was a biologist and manager of National Wildlife Refuges for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for more than 30 years. He has worked with alligators in gulf coast marshes and Canada geese on Hudson Bay tundra. His most recent project was working with his brother Keith of the Louisiana Nature Conservancy on the largest floodplain restoration project in the Mississippi River Basin at the Mollicy Unit of the Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge, reconnecting twenty-five square miles of former floodplain forest back to the Ouachita River.
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