Forestry was 'Hit or Miss in 1947'

When the Louisiana Forestry Association was founded at a meeting in the then-thriving Bentley Hotel in downdown Alexandria, in September, 1947, 70 years ago next month the forestry industry in Louisiana was "hit or miss," according to one charter member who was interviewed by The Piney Woods Journal in 1997, on the organization's fiftieth anniversary.

In a July, 1997 Piney Woods Journal interview Wallace R. Smith, Jr., of Jonesboro, a charter member of LFA, said of the forest practices of that day, "It was hit or miss. There weren't any rules, and we didn't really know how to handle the Southern pine to cultivate the forest. "

Smith had earned his forestry degree from LSU in 1940, just in time for the outbreak of World War II. He enlisted in the Air Corps and became a B-17 pilot, flying missions over Europe out of England.

After the war, he returned and re-joined Tremont Lumber Company , working under H.P. Dunford as logging superintendent, who was at the time one of the oldest foresters in Louisiana.

Concerning the forestry practices that were only beginning to be introduced, Smith said, "When we introduced selective cutting in the area, we had hell to pay with the logging contractors, who had been accustomed to cutting whatever they could see and haul."

Smith continued, "The marked-timber, selective cut remained the system of choice for several cycles, until recent years, when clear-cut followed by plantation cultivation came into vogue."

At the organizational meeting of LFA in 1947, there were 104 founding members enrolled.

During the beginning enrollment period, 500 were signed up as Charter Members. At the 50th anniversary in 1997, less than a dozen charter members were known still living.

Coincidentally, The Piney Woods Journal was founded in June, 1997, as LFA marked its 50th anniversary. In the course of covering events in the industry over the past 20 years, The Journal has followed the development of issues and practices in the industry. In the next few months, we will review highlights of the changes in forest practices, land ownership, and manufacturing innovations, as reported during the past two decades a period which has seen forestry grow from the "hit or miss" situation reported by men like Wallace Smith and others, to the multi- national industry that forestry and manufacturing has become.

Today, the Louisiana Forestry Association maintains an enrolled membership of around 4,000, with an office headquarters in Alexandria, a full-time staff, and publishes a quarterly magazine, "Forests and People", distributed to members including private and corporate landowners, foresters, loggers, lumber and other forest products manufactorers and others with interests in the plain forest industry. With Buck Vandertsteen as executive manager, one of LFA's major outreaches is to state and local government agencies, the Louisiana State Legislature, the U.S. Congress, the Louisiana and U.S. Department of Agriculture, in support of issues affecting land ownership, forest and farm land management, timber harvesting, use of public highways, and other issues affecting forestry as an agricultural crop, a natural resource, and an substantial part of the State's economy.