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"A gdy już usnę na wieki
Niech sen mi się przyśni królewski
Niech mnie kołysze do marzeń
Szum Puszczy Białowieskiej".
(Julian Ejsmond)

Jacek Wysmułek (1937-1983)

Born on 20 August 1937 in Pruszkow near Warsaw. He started a forest technical school in Bialowieza in 1951 and finished in Brynk, Sląsk in 1955. The same year he started studies at Forestry Department of SGGW in Warsaw. In 1956 responding to the appeal of the Minister of Forestry Roman Gesing he set off to work in Bieszczady taking up the position of forester in Wetlina Forest Distict (forest administration region: Kalnica). In July 1960 he was employed as a forester in region "Parki" in the BNP where he was carrying out his first observations under an outstanding scientist Prof. Jan Jerzy Karpiński's direction. He was a dedicated nature protection activist. For over 20 years he worked and lived in the Bialowieza Forest. While being a forester in the BNP, he fought against poaching with determination. He was trying to form a protection zone of the national park and was against placing raised hides on its border. He worked on this post for 14 years. In 1974 he dared to defend inviolability of entrusted nature reserve of the BNP, when his superior - then the BNP director - had ordered other employee to shoot a legally protected animal - bison. For brave words of criticism Jacek is dismissed from his post in the BNP. A lot of press organs(including nationwide) stand up for Jacek condemning the director's decision. After this incident - although he can get back to work due to court verdict - he does not come back to the BNP. From April 1975 he starts working in the Bialowieza Forest District as a tourist & nature protection forester. A sad event with the bison turned out to be extremely creative as a result. He organizes camping sites, designs campsite chains: "Pogorzelce", "Grudki" & "Budy" for individual tourists. He developed the nature reserve "Old Białowieża" as a focal spot for mass tours and also "Filipówka" & "Hajduki", fencing in these places with original fence made from lime rings. Besides he reconstructed some old insurrectionary and soldier crosses in the forest such as "the Batory mountain cross" or the cross in front of a campsite in the village Pogorzelce. He marks out two very interesting & remarkable tourist trails in the Bialowieza Forest. The first one - "Szlak Królewskich Dębów"(The King's Oaks trail) was made in years 1977-1979 in the nature reserve Old Białowieża. Together with his wife Barbara they found a group of oaks several hundred years old and named them after Lithuanian princes & Polish kings, who had hunted in the Bialowieza Forest. Next to each oak there is a plate with information about a tree and person whose name was used. The second trail, so called "Żebra Żubra"(Bison's Ribs), is 4 km long and crosses footbridges through various forest habitats. It came into existence in years 1978-1981. In the most interesting places along with his wife he put plates with suitable explanations. With a great passion and dedication Jacek Wysmułek was saving old monumental trees which started to disappear very fast. In the forest he seeked out over 150 oaks, ashes & other species which met any criteria of rating them as natural monuments and secured them with fences & plates. He also took part in marking new nature reserves in the Bialowieza Forest. Apart from his professional work Jacek was active in social organizations. He joined PTTK in 1952 in Jelenia Góra and started working as a guide under a well-known tourist expert Tadeusza Stec's direction. From 1964 to 1967 he was a chairman of the Guide Association in Białowieża. During his term he was trying to increase the number of members and was taking care of choosing the most proper training staff. As the first one in the whole history of the Guide Association he made efforts to provide the Bialowieza guide with identical uniforms. Almost until the last days of his life he carried out the photographic documentation of the PTTK Guide Association activities. In years 1966-1967 he re-established the PTTK Association in the BNP(which once used to exist) and extended them with guides, drivers and private rooms' owners. The Association had about 200 members. His achievement was forming the PTTK branch in Hajnówka. In Białowieża he initiated the production of small regional souvenirs. He designed a badge "PTTK Bialowieza Guide" and badges for various Association ceremonies. Jacek Wysmułek was a great & highly regarded tourist guide(had 1st guide class). Like no one else, he could talk about the nature & history of the Bialowieza Forest. Therefore he was always the centre of tourist groups' attention. He was a splendid storyteller. He knew a number of forest legends which he used to tell by the fire. Jacek Wysmułek was a painter as well. His paintings were highly valued by professionalists. There are also a few of his publications left, of which the most valuable is the chapter about tourist trails written for the 3 rd e dition of the book by J.J. Karpinski "The Bialowieza Forest" (1977). He gave a lot of interviews for press, radio & television. Because of his one radio interview the idea of the program "Podzwonne dla Dębu Jagiełły"(Final tribute to Jagiello’s oak) appeared. The Polish radio broadcast it a couple days after knocking down by a gale the most famous BNP oak. That tree, probably, 'remembered' the king Wladyslaw Jagiello's hunt in the Bialowieza Forest before the Grunwald battle. In 1977 Jacek fatally became ill. In a hurry he was finishing works on tourist trails. He left a written last will for the people of PTTK, giving details how to maintain and extend them. The testament was printed in "Głos Białowieży"(Bialowieza Voice) no 11-12, 1977 and was characteristically entitled "Ja nie zdążyłem..."(I did not have enough time...). He passed away on 21 January 1983. He was only 45 years old. His grave is at the Bialowieza cemetery...

Wszelkie prawa zastrzeżone - Janusz Korbel i Tomasz Niechoda