North Carolina Is Also First In Forestry

By | February 15, 2024
Paul Dean with award letter

Durning our February meeting our own Lion Paul Dean, who is a retired professional forester, provided us with a presentation titled North Carolina: Birthplace of Forestry in America. We learned that North Carolina besides being historically known as the state being “First in Flight” and “First in Freedom” we are also known as “First in Forestry”.

He explained that after Columbus and the subsequent colonization of America, this vast wild unsettled continent seemed to have an unlimited amount of forest that consisted of abundant timber and wildlife. The settlers arrived and between the 17th and 18th centuries rabidly expanded westward. Things began to get crowded in the east and wondered how much further west this expansive land extended.

Then came the Louisiana Purchase in which a transaction with France, signed in 1803, the United States purchased 828,000 square miles of land west of the Mississippi River for $15 million. For roughly 4 cents an acre, the United States doubled its size, expanding the nation westward. This was the best deal ever and then along came Louis and Clark who in 1806 found a western route to the pacific. As settlers moved westward, they continued unabated to clear land for farming, wood and pasturing for what seemed in a land with unlimited resources.

Then came the Gold Rush in which between 1848-1855 with the help of expanding railroads they came in droves. It was then, since reaching the Pacific, many began to realize this great county did have limits to it persistent use of resources in particular… timber.

The 1800’s was the Wooden Age in which wood in its use for shipbuilding, construction, fuel, and transportation was at an all-time high with no end for demand in sight.

Then came fears of a timber famine which can be attributed to forests that are harvested at a rate faster than they can naturally regenerate. This was the early days of recognizing the need for forestry in America. So, what is Forestry?

Forestry is the science, art, and practice of managing forests and forested landscapes for various purposes, including conservation, production of timber and diversity of forest ecosystems while meeting the needs of society.

Biltmore Estate slide

And it all started in Asheville North Carolina at the historically famous Biltmore Estate in which George Vanderbilt II hired Fredrick Law Olmstead to design the landscape on his 125,000-acre property. Upon seeing all the cutover eroded forestland from extensive logging, Olmstead recommended he hire Gifford Pinchot, one of the first Professional Foresters in America to write the first forest management plan in America. Which was the beginning of Forestry in America.

After three years at Biltmore, his political connections and friendship with President Teddy Roosevelt steered him to being appointed to the 1st chief of the newly established US Forst Service.

Meanwhile, upon Pinchot’s departure from Biltmore, Vanderbilt hired German forester Carl Schenck who served as Vanderbilt’s forester from 1895-1913. He became the third formally trained forester in the United States. He established and operated the Biltmore Forest School, the first forestry school in North America, on Vanderbilt’s property.

Beginning of Forestry slide

About Lion Paul Dean: Paul is a retired Consulting Forester, Assistant Scoutmaster at Scout Troop 209, which is chartered by the Apex Lion Club. Paul invites you to learn more about forestry by subscribing to his channel at YouTube Channel: