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Timber Baron Preserves Giant Ozarks Forest

Leo Drey, 84, points to his land holdings on a map in his office.
Greg Allen, NPR
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Leo Drey, 84, points to his land holdings on a map in his office.
Pioneer Forest manager Clint Trammel examines a tree harvested through individual selection that has already begun regenerating.
Greg Allen, NPR /
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Pioneer Forest manager Clint Trammel examines a tree harvested through individual selection that has already begun regenerating.

The largest private landowner in Missouri also happens to be one of the state's leading environmentalists. Even more surprising, he operates a timber company.

More than 50 years ago, Leo Drey began buying land in Missouri's Ozarks. Now 84, he's turning over nearly 160,000 acres of his land, known as Pioneer Forest, to a private foundation. It's the culmination of a career in which he pioneered a method of harvesting forest while also preserving it. NPR's Greg Allen reports.

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