LESSON 4: NEW ATTITUDES TOWARD THE FOREST

Early logging and lumbering companies in S.C. either did not know or did not care that the timber resource was being depleted. They simply cut timber wherever they could find it and moved on. This practice was referred to as "cut out and get out." By the early 1900's, most of the big timber was gone, and lumber and naval stores were not as profitable as before. The pulp and paper industry was still in its infancy, so the remaining wood products operators had to adjust to using smaller trees or go deep into the swamps for the few large trees that were left.

Major James Lide Coker of Hartsville was the first person to learn how to make paper from southern pines. He and his son formed the South Carolina Fiber Company in 1884 to produce coarse paper , called "kraft",  for wrapping and industrial use. 

Ask the children what else the Coker family of Hartsville is noted for. If any of the children are from farm backgrounds they may know about Coker's agricultural seed; perhaps some of them have parents or relatives who attended Coker College.

The industry was still alive, but a few people began to worry that trees were being used faster than new ones could grow. Vast areas of South Carolina were simply growing up in brush, and much of the woodland burned every year in wildfires. Soil was eroding from hillsides because there were no trees to hold the soil in place. Something had to be done.

In 1922, a member of the S.C. House of Representatives asked that the legislature invite Gifford Pinchot, a noted northern forester, to speak to the Assembly about forest conservation. Although Pinchot was the most knowledgeable expert in the U.S., the legislature refused because he was a Republican.

You may wish to have several students research Gifford Pinchot and report to the class. Note: Pinchot was the Father of American Forestry and laid the groundwork for the first Forestry School in the US.

For information on Pinchot, write: US Forest Service
Cradle of Forestry
Pisgah Ranger Dist.
Pisgah Forest, NC
28768

Despite this setback, those who were concerned about conservation kept on trying. Among these were members of women's' clubs who were eager to use the influence of their recently won right to vote. Also among the supporters of forestry were a few leading lumbermen who recognized that their futures depended on a continuous supply of timber.

Their efforts were gradually rewarded. In 1924, the legislature invited Mr. William Greeley, Chief of the United States Bureau of Forestry, to speak. In his remarks, Mr. Greeley stated: "The end of the great pineries of the South is near . . . but there is no need to regret having utilized our forests as we have. Any vigorous and energetic race would have done the same. But we need to begin reforestation." The legislature gave him a standing ovation, but took no action.

Conservationists wouldn't quit; they soon enlisted the aid of the powerful state Kiwanis Club. This organization took an active role and spearheaded a drive that led the legislature to establish the S.C. State Commission of Forestry in 1927.

For more information on the development of forestry, see the:
Annual Report of the SC Forestry Commission, 1976-1977, pp 5-29.

This is an excellent example of two aspects of human nature: most people are reluctant to change, and most people are distrustful of those who are in some way "different". It is also an example of how, in a democracy, ordinary people can change things.

Ask the children for more recent examples of these phenomena. The American Civil Rights movement may come to mind.

In 1928, the first State Forester was hired to oversee the protection and development of the state's forest resources. During the first year, the Forestry Commission opened a tree nursery to produce seedlings for reforestation, and began the task of educating landowners about tree planting and fire protection. The following year, the Forestry Commission prosecuted its first case for illegal woods burning and, by 1930, had established forest fire protection on more than half a million acres of land.

Other organizations became interested. In 1929, West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company (now Westvaco) built the state's first fire tower dedicated to watching for fires on private land. Citizens in Kershaw County organized to "prevent fires . . . encourage reforestation . . . (and) spread abroad the knowledge of the value of trees."

Since the turn of the century, forestry has come into its own in South Carolina. The Forestry Commission offers statewide forest fire protection, and forest industry and rural fire departments provide valuable firefighting services. Four and one-half billion tree seedlings have been planted since 1929, and over 475 companies are now involved in processing wood into useful products.

Start a class collection of the logos of organizations involved in forestry in the county. Paper companies, logging companies, pulpwood dealerships, park and outdoor recreation organizations, rural fire departments, consulting foresters, wildlife agencies, etc. (Your first item is attached.) Display these in the classroom as a reminder of how important forestry is to the county.

SCFC Emblem

Brochures outlining the services of the SC Forestry Commission are available from your local office.

The end of this lesson is a good place to show the Forestry Commission's videotape, "SC Forestry Commission...Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow". The tape outlines a brief history of forestry in South Carolina and discusses the mission and activities of the agency. You can get the tape (and maybe even a guest speaker) by contacting the nearest Forestry Commission office.


Reference Resources / Education

Contents / Lesson 1 / Lesson 2 / Lesson 3 / Lesson 4 / Lesson 5 / Lesson 6 / Lesson 7