Jewels of Appalachia

The forests of western North Carolina have long been recognized for providing exceptional quality of life, offering world-class outdoor experiences and supporting vibrant local economies.

They are even acknowledged as the birthplace of America’s forest management: When George Vanderbilt sought refuge from city life in the late 1800s, he chose a picturesque valley in western North Carolina for his mountain home, the Biltmore Estate, where he hired a young Gifford Pinchot to manage his vast property.

But when the industrialist built the Biltmore, these forests looked very different then they do today. As early as the 1880s, logging companies had removed most of the valuable timber from New England and the Great Lakes region and were buying and logging forests in the Pacific Northwest and the Southeast, including the forests of western North Carolina. Eastern farmers who had exhausted their lands and had moved west also left behind land prone to fire and erosion. The abandoned farms and badly cut-over forests became known as “the lands that nobody wanted.”

Recognizing the important ecologic value of restoring forests on “the lands that nobody wanted,” Vanderbilt hired Pinchot to create America’s first forestry management plan for his 100,000-acre estate. It was here that Pinchot honed his skills, developing methods to maximize sustainable timber production while simultaneously protecting the natural waterways and other abundant natural resources.

So successful was Pinchot in managing the Biltmore Estate that he was recruited by the federal government to assist Teddy Roosevelt’s vision of a national forest service to manage vast tracts of wild forests throughout the country.

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