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Teresa Damron Climbs a 
Tree and Saves a Forest

How a "typical middle-class suburban mom" saved a forest—and how you can, too.

Teresa Damron was, as she put it “just a typical middle-class suburban mom” as she approached her fiftieth birthday nine years ago. Her family ran the Sperry Tree Service in Eugene, Oregon, but Teresa worked out of the office; she left the actual tree-climbing to her male business partner, and her teenage son, Rob. Being more than “a few feet above mother earth,” she said, made her knees wobble.Eugene offers an assortment of larger-than-usual trees, including old-growth forests sporting Douglas firs well above 200 feet. The town also takes pride in its streak of activism, a shared ideal that everyone should “do what you can to preserve our resources.”All of these factors – Teresa’s career, her nervousness about climbing, her commitment to her hometown’s philosophy, and her mid-century pause―produced an epiphany: I could climb a big tree. I could conquer my fear. That would be the first of many epiphanies that followed as she worked her way up a 250-foot-tall Douglas fir.“The adrenalin from being on rope during my climb put me in a hypersensitive state,” says Teresa of that first climb. “I noticed tiny i …

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