Curtis Seltzer, 61, has lived and worked in the country for the better part of 35 years.  He graduated from Pittsburgh’s Peabody High School in 1963 where his classmates voted him second funniest, which he continues to think he is.

He has a B.A. from Oberlin College, and an M.Phil. and Ph.D. from Columbia University.  He was briefly enrolled in the Ph.D. program at the school of education of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, but left after intentionally flunking a course called, “Survival Techniques in the Educational Bureaucracy.”  He did not survive the real educational bureaucracy; neither did his professor.

He bought his first country place in the early 1970s, 60 acres of recently timbered woods north of Amherst.  Subsequently, he’s owned property in about a dozen states and has scoped property in more than a dozen others.

He has helped clients find and buy timberland (both pine and hardwoods), farms, development land and conservation property.  He facilitated the purchase of 5,000 acres in eastern North Carolina that is red wolf habitat and 3,100 acres in the Adirondack Park that was owned by Mutt Lange and Shania Twain.  Since the mid-1990s, he’s worked with properties ranging from 600,000 acres in Canada to 3,000 acres in Hawaii, from 30 acres in West Tennessee to 55,000 acres in Georgia.

As a land consultant, he’s drawn on skills that he’s used in other work.  The question-asking and problem-solving of an arbitrator transfers directly into finding and scoping property for clients.  Researching land deals is similar to digging into news stories. He often writes summary memos for clients that lay out a target property’s benefits, risks, costs and unknowns.

Curtis has written a book about labor-management relations in the coal industry and several book-length reports.  He wrote a newspaper column for several years that won awards from the Virginia Press Association. He has written for the Washington Post, Columbia Journalism Review, Washington Monthly, Nation and Financial Times, among others.

Since 1983, he’s lived on a beef-cattle farm in Blue Grass, Virginia, where he can see both Devil’s Backbone and Snowy Mountain.  He owns timberland investments in two states. 

His wife, Melissa Ann Dowd, is one of three lawyers in Highland County.  Their daughter, Molly, will graduate from the University of Virginia in 2007.