Saturday, June 20, 2015

Happy 100th Birthday North Carolina Forest Service!

Our family had the honor of attending a celebration of our states' Forest Service's 100th birthday at Jordan Lake Educational State Forest located about 30 minutes from us in Chapel Hill, NC.  As you may know, forestry is a very important part of our family.  Daddy served as a forester in several capacities during his 13 years with the North Carolina Forest Service.  Forest resources are a very important economic resource to our state (arguably the most important natural resource).  Although Eddie no longer works directly for the North Carolina Forest Service, his new role with the non-profit private agency, the North Carolina Forestry Association, works closely with the state agency to ensure the protection, management, and promotion of forestry in the state.

From the North Carolina Forest Service website:

North Carolina's forest land is one of the greatest influences on the state, providing economic value and adding immeasurably to the quality of life for its citizens. The NC Forest Service's primary purpose is to ensure adequate and quality forest resources for the state to meet present and future needs. The forest products industry is the largest manufacturing business sector in the state, contributing approximately $24 billion annually to the state's economy and providing around 180,000 jobs for North Carolinians.

The Forest Service is mandated and directed by Chapters 77, 106 and 143 of the North Carolina General Statutes and by Title 15, Chapter 9 of the North Carolina Administrative Code to protect, manage and develop the forest resources of the state. The techniques used to accomplish this mandate involve management of existing resources, development and creation of new and better forests, and protection of these valuable resources.

The programs under these objectives are directed at the thousands of private landowners who collectively own 13.8 million acres of the state's 18 million acres of forest land. Programs include reforestation services, forest fire prevention and suppression, and insect and disease control. The agency also is involved in the genetic improvement of forest trees, seedling production at state nurseries, long range forestry planning and technical development, water quality controls, urban forestry assistance, training, and support to volunteer fire departments and forestry education.

Forestry as a science has a long history in this state.  You know how scientists speculate about the cradle of civilization?  Well, we can proudly boast that we are the location of the Cradle of Forestry in America in the Pisgah National Forest in the mountains of North Carolina.  Forestry was born here!  

From the Cradle of Forestry website:

Our century of forest conservation dates back to the construction of the Biltmore Estate and the reforestation of abused and farmed over land that once ailed the surrounding landscape. Forestry education began in 1889 when George W. Vanderbilt purchased the first land holding in Asheville for his Estate.

Vanderbilt hired a man by the name of Frederick Law Olmsted to oversee the design and construction of the gardens & grounds encompassed by the magnificent estate.  Upon Olmstead’s recommendation that the estate required a “Forest Manager”, Vanderbilt hired a young man by the name of Gifford Pinchot. Pinchot, who would later serve as the first Chief of the USDA Forest Service and Governor of Pennsylvania, developed and implemented a forest management plan for Vanderbilt’s forested holdings.

Subsequently, in 1895, German forester Dr. Carl A. Schenck accepted George Vanderbilt’s offer to come to North Carolina to succeed Gifford Pinchot as manager of his vast forest properties. For the next 14 years, Dr. Schenck focused all of his forestry skills on transforming the woodlands we know today as Pisgah National Forest into a restored image of what was once a flourishing forest.
Today the Cradle of Forestry in America is a 6,500 acre Historic Site within the Pisgah National Forest, set aside by Congress to commemorate the beginning of forestry conservation in the United States. The Forest Discovery Center honors forest conservation history with an 18 minute movie about Vanderbilt, Pinchot, Schenck and the beginning of forestry in America. Also located in the Center is an interactive exhibit hall, and The Giving Tree Gift Shop. Outdoor activities include two guided trails which lead you back in time to seven historical buildings, a 1915 Climax logging locomotive and an antique portable sawmill. Thursdays through Sundays you may find a toy maker, a weaver, a quilter, or a wood carver demonstrating traditional Appalachian crafts on the open porches of the historic cabins.

With special programs and events throughout the season, The Cradle of Forestry is a must do attraction in the Pisgah National Forest.

We may visit the Cradle of Forestry this week while we are in Asheville.  Daddy has been working hard to help teach some of our states' elementary, middle, and high school teachers how to teach forestry to their students, and they will visit the Cradle of Forestry this week as part of their education.  Education is very important to their goals of protecting and promoting forestry in the state.  Forest conservation is not to be confused with forest preservation (a/k/a "tree huggers").  These tree huggers would halt all forms of forest management to the detriment of everyone, including the forests!  There ideas are ignorant and hypocritical!  I bet not one of them minds using toilet paper!  Forestry has been responsible for saving millions of acres of trees for our future generations.  If not for Eddie's work as a forester for the state, many private landowners would simply harvest their timber and never replant trees for our future.  He also deals with landowners who just want to take the money they get from timber and try not to reinvest it into the land under the excuse that they plan to sell the land to developers later.  Often, this unplanted land will sit empty for years, even decades, to the detriment of everyone.  Even when Eddie was the forester of the most urban county in our state, he single-handedly was responsible for the planting of thousands of acres of trees yearly.  He did this by going to the landowners directly and educating them to the benefits of forestry.  The state also helped encourage the reinvestment in forestry by landowners by offering them cost share money to help them replant trees once timber has been harvested, and the Forest Service formerly provided their free services to the landowners of preparing an intensive forest management plan for the landowner to use to properly manage their forested lands.  In my opinion, these cost share incentives are necessary to encourage forest landowners to properly manage and maintain sustainable forest in our state and nation.  

The birthday celebration we attended honored the North Carolina Forest Service's 100th year in operation.  In 1915, an act of the NC General Assembly provided the first forest fire wardens and gave them law enforcement powers. The act also authorized the state to acquire and administer state forests and parks.  Mount Mitchell State Park was formed and entrusted to the state Geological and Economic Survey.  John Simcox Holmes was given the titles of State Forester and State Forest Warden.  However, no state funds were appropriated for the positions.  In 2011, after being known as the "North Carolina Division of Forest Resources" for several decades, the agency's name was changed back to the "North Carolina Forest Service" and it is transferred from the authority of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

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Giant Smokey Bear was in attendance, of course. 

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Evan demonstrates just how big this Smokey was.  He talked too! 

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Isn't he cute? 

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Evan proudly shows off his tree cookie necklace and his Smokey t-shirt.  Proud son of a forester! 

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Brody just enjoys some birthday cake.  Haha! 

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Old pictures depict the history of the Forest Service. 

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Evan learns to put out wildfires.  You will note that Smokey message has changed from "Only you can prevent forest fires" to "Only you can prevent wildfires."  This is because not all forest fires are bad.  Foresters actually use prescribed burns to help manage better quality forests. 

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If you could shoot water in the hole to put out the fire, the lights on top would light up.  It was a fun game.  Brody especially loves any chance to play with water. 

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Daddy showed him how it was done. 

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Evan was a pro! 

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Then, we actually met up with some dear old forestry friends.  These kids' mom worked with Eddie in the Charlotte area.  She managed the newest educational state forest at Mountain Island Educational State Forest, and Eddie is still working to help her get the rest of the funding necessary to finish the complex.  Laura is such a wonderful woman and does an amazing job bringing forestry education to the most populated part of our state.  

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Laura's son, Aidan, shows his twin sisters how to put out a raging fire. 

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Evan and Aidan get to use a crosscut saw. 

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Evan learned it is very hard work to cut trees the "old" way. 

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But the girls show they are also up to the challenge. 

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Evan enjoys taking a trip into the past of forestry visiting an old fashioned ranger station.  These days, forestry enjoys the benefits of very hi-tech equipment, such as GPS for mapping and making land plots.  

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Proper Forest Management promotes healthy forests for timber production, wildlife, aesthetics, recreation, and soil and water conservation.  

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Forest Protection from wildfires is a very important and often dangerous job. 

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Trees really do gives us a lot!  

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Brody wanted to drive the big Forest Service truck.  The NC Forest Service utilizes many old, refurbished military surplus equipment.  This truck was refitted to hold water tanks for wildfire suppression. 

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Evan checks out the water tanks and pumps on the back. 


  1. This is so cool to read about. I love how Eddie's job is tangibly making the world a better place. Thanks for sharing all this Sherry.

  2. This was an awesome post. Very educational combined with fun pictures of a fun time at the end. For a long time Arizona made a huge mess out of our policies for forest management. No contained burns at all led to overgrown, very dry forests that would burn out of control whenever there was the smallest fire. We're doing better now.

    All of Eddie's experiences and work are fascinating and commendable.


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