Vermont Division of
Vermont Division of Forestry Centennial [photo]
Home What's New General Info Publications Calendar Contact Us Staff


Forest Resource Management

Forest Resource Protection

Forest Product Utilization & Marketing

Urban & Community Forestry

Conservation Education


Wood Energy

Wood Energy

Forest Resources Plan

Maple Site


Forestry Centennial


Get into the Forest!
The History of Forestry in Vermont

The State of Vermont has a rich history, and the history of forestry and forest management in the state is no exception.  Check out the links to historical documents and photos as well as the timeline of important events in the History of Forestry in Vermont.

Historical publications

maple leaf History of Forestry in Vermont, 1916
(15MB PDF)
By Austin F. Hawes


maple leaf History of Forestry in Vermont: 1909-1959
(41MB PDF)
By Perry H. Merrill


maple leaf Forestry in Vermont, 1947
(23MB PDF)
By Perry H. Merrill




Austin Hawes - First state forester.

Austin F. Hawes, Vermont's first state forester. He served from 1909 - 1916.
(Click for large image).
List of Vermont State Foresters







Timeline of Forestry in Vermont

1738-1739 - Vermont's first primitive sawmill is built in Westminster.

1820 - The advent of Vermont's iron industry creates a new demand for charcoal.  In Glastenbury alone, 10,000 bushels of charcoal were burned for smelting iron ore in 1820.

1840 - The census of 1840 shows 1,081 sawmills in Vermont.

Louis Defresne steam sawmill - Winhall, VT c.1900 -  Mill crew and woods crew
Louis Defresne steam sawmill Winhall, VT c.1900. Mill crew and woods crew.
(click for large image)

1870 - Burlington has developed into one of the major lumber processing centers in the United States, importing over 150,000,000 board feet of lumber annually.

1886 - First Arbor Day in Vermont is proclaimed by Governor Samuel E. Pingree.

1903 - Devastating fires burn over 5,000 acres in VT.

Planting Scotch Pine - Plainfield Forest 1911.

Planting Scotch Pine in Plainfield Forest, 1911. Snowed during the planting. Within two weeks intense hot weather came on and killed about 1/2 the trees.
(Click for large image)

1904 - A Commissioner of Forestry was appointed by the Governor in 1904 to oversee the new fire warden system.

1906-1907 - Legislation passes to create a state tree nursery at Centennial Field.

1908 - 106 separate forest fires scorch nearly 16,000 acres.

*1909 - Austin F. Hawes is appointed as Vermont’s first State Forester (Click here for a list of Vermont State Foresters), and the first state forest, L.R. Jones is purchased in Plainfield, beginning the Division of Forestry.

Logs in L.R. Jones State Forest
Skidway of logs L.R. Jones State Forest, 1911, Trees cut were 50-60 years old.
(Click for large image)

1912 - 8,000 spruce seedlings ordered from Europe for planting at the Downer State Forest are lost when the RMS Titanic sinks. Mr. Elmer A. Darling built the first fire tower on Burke Mountain.

1915  - Last saw log drive on the CT River.

1917 - Legislature abolishes Forestry Department and transfers the duties of the State Forester to the Commissioner of Agriculture.

1922 - The State Tree Nursery moves from Burlington to Essex.

1900's logging operation.

1900's logging operation.
(Click for large image)

1923 - Legislature creates a Forest Service and the position of Commissioner of Forestry.

1924 - Mrs. Frances Humphrey donates first State Park at Mt. Philo.

1925 - Vermont Legislature approves the purchase of land to help establish the Green Mountain National Forest.

1929 - Public forest programs distribute fuelwood to the needy.

Clearing Burke Mountain Parkway, Darling State forest, 1933
Clearing Burke Mountain Parkway, Darling State Forest, 1933.
(Click for large image)

1932 - Green Mountain National Forest is established.

1933 - Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) is established.  Between 1933 and 1941, State Forester, Perry Merrill enlists the help of CCC to cut ski trails, build roads and increase access to state lands.

CCC Camp Proctor Piper State Forest, 1934

Civilian Conservation Corps Camp
Proctor Piper State Forest, 1934.
(Click for large image)


- Hurricane destroys sugarbushes, timberland and fire towers.

1941 - The Norris-Doxey Farm Forestry Act leads to the establishment of the County Forester program in Vermont.

1948 - The last pulpwood drive on the CT River.

1949 - Sugar maple is designated as Vermont’s State Tree.

Surgarhouse 1950's
Sugarhouse in Fairfield, VT.
(Click for large image)

1955 - Legislature establishes the Department of Forests and Parks which would later become the Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation (FPR).

1956 - Vermont’s first Tree Farm, privately-owned forests managed for wood, water, wildlife and recreation, is established at the Mt. Tom Forest in Woodstock. Nine other Tree Farms were also established that day.

1958 - FPR helps re-introduce the fisher to protect forests from porcupines.

1961 - 10,000,000 trees have been planted through the Soil Bank Program.

1969 - The Aiken Maple Research lab is established by the University of Vermont.`

1970 – Agency of Environmental Conservation is formed combining the three departments.

Budworm Demonstration Project

Spruce Budworm Demonstration Project.
Sam Hudson, Mollie Beattie, EB Walker & Brent Teillon.
(Click for large image)

1975 - Spruce budworm is found, eventually causing mortality to 85,000 acres of balsam fir trees.

1978 - Vermont passes Use Value Appraisal law, eventually conserving 1.5 million acres of forest land.

1979 - The Department of Forests and Parks became the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation.

1981 - First wood-fired electric generating plant, McNeil Station in Burlington, received approval from the Public Service Board.

1985 - Mollie H. Beattie is FPR’s first female commissioner. 

1985 - The Vermont Youth Conservation Corps is created and modeled after the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930's.

1987 - Calais Elementary School becomes the first successful school to convert to wood chip heat.

1988 - Diamond International Corporation puts one million acres of forest land up for sale in northern Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and New York. The risk that the sale would change the character of these lands caused Congress to initiate the Northern Forest Lands Study and create the Northern Forest Lands Council to develop policy alternatives to help maintain traditional uses and quality of life in the Northern Forest.

1990 - The Vermont Monitoring Cooperative is established to help coordinate forest ecosystem research and monitoring efforts between the VT Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation, the University of Vermont and the Green Mountain National Forest.

1990 - Forest Biology Lab established in Waterbury.

Cow Mountain Pond
Cow Mountain Pond in Granby. Vermont's first Forest Legacy tract, 1993.
(Click for large image)

1991 - Vermont establishes an Urban and Community Forestry Program.

1993 - Vermont has the nation’s first Forest Legacy tract, Cow Mountain Pond in Granby, a premier land protection program.

1997 - The Vermont Legislature passes Act 15: An Act to Regulate the Heavy Cutting of the Timber Resources.  The law was the first of its kind in Vermont and requires approval for "heavy" cuts of over 40 acres.

Ice storm damage
Ice storm damage at Appalachian Gap.
(Click for large image)

1998 - Vermont’s only National Park, Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park is opened.

1998 - Region wide ice storm affects nearly one million acres of forest in Vermont.

2002 - Forestland enrolled in Use Value Appraisal program reaches 1,250,000 acres.

2005 - Trees for Local Communities cost-share grant program exceeds $1,000,000 in funding to municipalities and volunteer organizations across the state.

2006 - Watershed Forestry Program begins under the Governor's Clean and Clear Initiative.

2007 - Percent forest cover drops from 79% - 75%, the first decline since the peak of land clearing in the mid-1800's.

Steven J. Sinclair

Steven J. Sinclair
Vermont State Forester, 2002 - present.

2008 - Wood Warms program offers subsidized firewood to low-income Vermonters.

2009 - The Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation is proud to celebrate its first 100 years supporting Vermonters in their stewardship of the State's forests.