The dawn of sustainable forestry in the South
In the late 19th century, virgin southern pine forests in the West Gulf Coast Region remained virtually untouched. After the Civil War, this land was made available by the government for homesteading and sale. Pine timberland was offered for sale at $1.25 per acre. Primarily northern lumbermen and land speculators purchased the land. Lumbering then became the economic driver for the recovery of the region. By the end of the first quarter of the 20th century, only isolated pockets of the old-growth forests remained. Landscapes once covered with majestic stands of virgin longleaf pines had become vast “stumpscapes” void of any prospect of forest regeneration. Then a small group began the effort to restore these forests. The effort was led by Henry E. Hardtner of the Urania Lumber Company, William H. Sullivan of the Great Southern Lumber Company, and Philip C. Wakeley of the Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station. This is the story of that restoration effort.