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Tree Reads: 9 Book Recommendations from Southern State Foresters

Southern Group of State Foresters
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If you’re interested in learning more about forestry – whether to enhance your professional knowledge or to simply enjoy learning about trees, forests and the history and culture around forestry in the United States – here are nine book recommendations from the Southern Group of State Foresters.

Book: American Canopy: Trees, Forests and the Making of a Nation
Author: Eric Rutkow
Recommended by David Arnold, Tennessee State Forester

“This book illustrates how our country’s growth and evolution was and is tied to our forest resources. Included in the narrative are colonists, lumber barons, foresters, conservationists and environmentalists. Fredrick Weyerhaeuser, Gifford Pinchot, John Muir, Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold have more than cameo appearances in the book. Also covered are the Peshtigo fire in Wisconsin, Smokey Bear’s emergence, the beginning of the American Tree Farm system, the spotted owl controversy, as well as many other significant milestones in America’s relationship with its forest resources. The closing chapters are heavy on environmental issues and challenges – however, the book struggles to adequately cover advancements in forestry, forest practices, sustainability and the forestry community’s enhanced partnerships and collaborations with the conservation community. So, keep that in mind when you read. This is a recommended book for anyone with an interest in America’s connection with her forests through time.”

Book: A Sand County Almanac
Author: Aldo Leopold
Recommended by Wade Dubea, Louisiana State Forester

“I read ‘A Sand County Almanac’ for the first time years ago and was impressed by the delivery of the conservation messages. My favorite chapter is February: Good Oak. It tells of the cutting up of a lightning-struck oak for firewood. During the process, the narrator recounts the years as he saws through the annual rings of the tree. It made me pause and reflect on my experiences as well. I recommend this book to all but especially natural resource professionals.”

Book: Looking for Longleaf
Author: Lawrence S. Earley
Recommended by Scott Phillips, South Carolina State Forester

“I recently read ‘Looking for Longleaf’ by Lawrence S. Earley and really enjoyed it. It is a great story looking at the history of the longleaf ecosystem, the pressures that led to its decline and the hope to restore it.”

Book: 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
Author: Charles Mann
Recommended by Joe Fox, Arkansas State Forester

“This book offers what and who were in the Americas before Columbus. It suggests large populations of Native Americans who were agrarian, what our forests looked like and how they were managed. Very interesting!”

Book: The Big Burn
Author: Thomas Eagan
Recommended by Al Davis, Texas and Wib Owen, SGSF Executive Director

“This book gives a riveting account of a large and tragic wildfire from our past. The Great Fire of 1910 (The Big Burn) led to wildfire policy change in the US and helped Teddy Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot fight for forest conservation.”

Book: The Trees in My Forest
Author: Bernd Heinrich
Recommended by Rob Farrell, Virginia State Forester

“The author is a scientist, a naturalist and a keenly observant forest landowner. The book is a nature journal as well as a primer on tree physiology and forest ecology. He is an active forest manager but he is strongly opposed to intensive forest management in planted plantations.  A rare combination of love for the forest along with scientific understanding of how trees and forests develop and function.”

Book: A Land Remembered
Author: Patrick Smith
Recommended by Erin Albury, Florida State Forester

“When I first read this book some 20 years ago, I could not put it down. Because the story is historical fiction, it does a fantastic job bringing to life a Florida that many people don’t know – the forests and swamps, wildlife and people that predate the theme parks and popular tourist destinations of today. This book is an easy read and engaging for any person interested in learning about this important piece of Florida’s natural and cultural history.”

Book: Young Men and Fire
Author: Norman MaClean

Book: America’s Fires, 2010 Edition from the Forest History Society
Author: Stephen J. Pyne
Recommended by Wib Owen, SGSF Executive Director

“Both of these books provide a historical context for forestry and wildfire policy and practice. Young Men and Fire recounts the Mann Gulch Fire of August 1949.”