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The Cradle of Forestry: What it is and How it Helps the Environment

written by: Lucinda Watrous•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 1/12/2012

The Cradle of Forestry is a large part in nature preservation, and started in Asheville, North Carolina with the Vanderbilt Family, the same family who owns the Biltmore House, the largest privately owned home in America. To find out more about the Cradle of Forestry keep reading.

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    The Cradle of Forestry serves as "the birthplace of forest conservation in America." The area known as the Cradle of Forestry is a 6,500 acre portion of the Pisgah National Forest. This area was designated as such because of a 86,700 acre sale of land to the United States Federal Government, by Edith Vanderbilt. She sold this land from her husband's original 125,000 acre estate, famously known as the Biltmore Estate. After her husband George passed away, she wanted the land to be preserved and cared for the way her husband intended, and thought this would be the best way for it to happen. An act of Congress designated a portion of the land (serving as the beginning of the Pisgah National Forest) to be known as the Cradle of Forestry.

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    The Vanderbilts hired Frederick Law Olmsted, the man considered as the Father of Landscape Architecture to design and maintain the grounds of the estate. He began a project in 1889, known as the "Project of Operations for Improving the Forest of Biltmore." This is certainly one of the earliest documented forest management projects.

    Olmstead eventually hired Gifford Pinchot, who went on to become the very first head of the U.S. Forest Service, then known as the Department of Forestry, in Washington, DC. The man who replaced him, Carl A. Schnek began the Biltmore Forest School. This forestry school was the first in the country, and over the course of fifteen years, educated more than 300 students, and fostered the first generation of Foresters in America.

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    The public may tour the Cradle of Forestry which now offers plenty of educational value to local students, lesson plans for teachers, and even interactive exhibits to help people learn about the importance and beauty of forest conservation. The Historic Site is located in Brevard, North Carolina and offers a low admission fee for many. Only open from April through October, there is much to learn and see from the experience. Many local children visit the area at some point through their schooling.

    Areas such as these aim to perserve and protect the forestry in the area while also working toward increasing biodiversity. By clearing out dead plants and adding new ones, the Cradle of Forestry ensures there will be a new generation of plants and trees for everyone to care for and admire.

    For more information about the Cradle of Forestry, or to learn more about the Vanderbilt family who started it all, check out these resources: