Mel and Marc Lewis of Hillsgrove were recipients of the 2019 Joseph T. Rothrock Conservationist of the Year Award presented at the Pennsylvania Forestry Association’s Annual Symposium at the Toftrees Resort in State College on September 27. The Rothrock Award given annually by PFA represents their highest recognition.
Joseph Rothrock is the founder of the Pennsylvania Forestry Association in 1886. His enthusiasm for forest conservation was contagious. As a professor of botany at the University of Pennsylvania, he gathered around him a group of like-minded men and women, that became the Pennsylvania Forestry Association. He served as the first president. The association was the first such organization in America. This group sparked the forest conservation movement in Pennsylvania. Rothrock because of his influence became known as Pennsylvania’s Father of Forestry.
Together Mel and Marc operate Dwight Lewis Lumber Company, the first Forest Stewardship Council chain-of-custody certified sawmill in Pennsylvania. FSC certification is a process that requires time and commitment. Mel and Marc make the time and commitment to operate their sawmill and manage their company’s properties with an eye toward the future. FSC certification is just one example of this commitment to conservation and long-term management.
They also created and own Lewis Lumber Products, Inc. The hardwood store, as it is known, provides an outlet for not just their lumber, but other sawmill’s wood as well. The facility offers a quality product and expertise to assist local woodworkers, home remodelers, and craftsmen with materials and knowledge. By providing local wood (and other wood) that is easily accessible they are making it easy for people in the region and beyond to purchase and support Pennsylvania forests over plastic and forest products from other regions of the world.
Both Mel and Marc have served on the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy’s board of directors. During their tenures they promoted forest conservation and forest management. Mel and Marc both provided insight into forest management and forest regeneration, helping other board members from non-forestry backgrounds understand more and recognize the value of forest management.
Mel is also a member and former president of the Northeastern Logger’s Association. He also serves on the Sullivan County Planning Commission which allows him to encourage forest management and conservation.
Marc is a long-time board member of the Loyalsock Creek Watershed Association and now serves as the organization’s President. The watershed is largely forested and contains large portions of State Forest Land and State Game Lands. Additionally, Marc served on the Pennsylvania Forest Products Association board and oversaw the forestry committee.
In 2013 Mont Alto inducted Mel and Marc into the Penn State Mont Alto Distinguished Fellows Society for their “significant contributions and achievements in their careers and communities.” Marc has also been recognized as a Penn State ESM Outstanding Alumni.
Dwight Lewis Lumber Company has received the Northeastern Logger’s Association Outstanding Sawmill Operator award during Mel and Marc’s management tenure. The company has also been recognized with the Agribusiness Achievement Award.
Dwight Lewis Lumber Company owns and manages a significant amount of land. As the third generation to run the sawmill in Sullivan County, Mel and Marc understand their management and conservation efforts on their land today will determine what future generations of their family will be able to do. Both Mel and Marc have a son working at Dwight Lewis Lumber Company and learning about the sawmill operations and land management efforts.
Mel and Marc recognize the communities that are in or near the forest have a large impact on how forests are managed and how forest management can be perceived. To that end they are both involved in the Sullivan County community. They both have served on the board of Sullivan County Action, Inc., a non-profit working to expand access to health and dental care in the County. This community involvement and thinking about how to help their employees resulted in Mel and Marc receiving recognition as Sullivan County Businessman of the Year.
They both have served on the board of directors at Woodlands Bank. The bank focuses on being a community bank with local decision making. The local decisions for loans and lines-of-credit provide smaller businesses to grow and first-time home buyers (like their employees) to get a loan and begin to build equity and financial stability.
WORDING ON MEL and MARC ROTHROCK PLAQUE WORDING:
Mel and Marc Lewis are stewards of the forest who have demonstrated their commitment to conservation and long-term management of Pennsylvania’s natural resources. As the third generation to operate the family’s sawmill and lumber business, they willingly give support to a community of others who seek to manage forests well for future generations. As trained foresters, they have received recognition from their alma mater Penn State University for their significant contributions and achievements to the profession and their communities. Individually and together, they reflect Dr. Rothrock’s respect for the forest, its ecology, and the need to share their knowledge for the stewardship of Pennsylvania’s forests.