The Founding of the Pennsylvania Forestry Association

On the second of June 1886, at a meeting held in the Hall of the Philadelphia Historical Society, a temporary organization was created for the purpose of founding The Pennsylvania Forestry Association. 

A president, treasurer, secretary, and a Council of Twenty were appointed that day.

On the tenth of June, the Constitution of the Pennsylvania Forestry Association was adopted, with the first of two articles as follows:

Article 1: The name of the Organization shall be The Pennsylvania Forestry Association.

Article 2: The object of this Association shall be to secure and maintain a due proportion of forest area throughout the State; to disseminate information concerning the growth, protection, and utilization of forests; to show the great evils resulting from forest destruction, in the decrease and unequal distribution of the available water supplies, the impoverishment of the soil, the injury to various industries, and the change in climate; to secure the enactment by the Legislature of such laws, and the enforcement of the same, as shell tend to increase and preserve the forests of the State.

Dr. J. T. Rothrock, of West Chester, Pennsylvania, was the first president, and by July 1, 1886, the Association had 50 members.

In the first issue of Forest Leaves (now Pennsylvania Forests), dated July 1886, the following report appeared:

The Composition of The Pennsylvania Forestry Association

Originating in Philadelphia, the present roll of membership is composed of residents of that city and of Eastern Pennsylvania, but the desire of the projectors and management is, to make the organization cover the entire state, and the pro tem officers were chosen, so that by the meeting announced for November, representatives could be secured from all parts of the state. Provision is also made to have the management composed of councilors from various counties.

The dues for membership are merely nominal, so as to reimburse the Association for a part of the expense in issuing information, but in addition, substantial financial aid is promised and some very handsome contributions have already been made.

The membership is practically open to every respectable inhabitant of this great Commonwealth and in determining who should be enrolled we are including every progressive or public-spirited man or woman in the community; for it seems to us that they are but few, who from one motive or another would not be interested in a movement which looks to the general welfare of the present and the enrichment of the prospective population of Pennsylvania.

Our roster should include the city resident who seeks the country or mountains for summer rest, for who would desire a sojourn on either if barren of trees?

The farmers should cooperate, for the equalization of temperature and distribution of rainfall, which forests encourage, reduces the extremes of temperature and produces abundant showers rather than destructive torrents.

The lumberman, who is so rapidly cutting himself out of business or is becoming dependent on inferior growth, should have a special interest in the movement. The owners of large forest tracts should find that the purpose of the Association means financial gain to them.

The sportsman, who with rod and gun must soon seek for game outside of the state unless the purposes of this Association meet with favor, should be one of us. The railroad corporations, lumber companies, builders, etc. who are such important factors should encourage this movement.

The officials of towns and cities dependent upon public water supplies, ought to participate in forest conservation and a forestry association should appeal favorably to all lovers of nature.

If anyone who reads these lines should find that he or she is not included in the brief list above given, but who feels an interest in forest conservation, the secretary will gladly record the name and address and take proper steps to secure membership for the applicant.

(Within a single year, membership exceeded 150)

This information was taken from PFA’s archives. I am sure you will notice as I did, that although more than 136 years have passed, much remains the same. The Pennsylvania Forestry Association began with great purpose and passion and PFA’s commitment to Penn’s Woods has never been flagged. We need to make sure that we all continue to pursue our mission with passion.

Linda L. Finley

PFA Life Member, Forest Landowner