The Cradle of Forestry in America is aptly named; the center is the birthplace of American Forest Conservation. Nestled in the beautiful Pisgah National Forest, the 6,500 acre Cradle of Forestry is a National Historic Site charged with preserving the history of forest management. Through classes, movies, and interactive exhibits at the Forestry Discovery Center as well as a variety of trails, the knowledgeable staff of the center has succeeded in providing a learning environment that's not only educational, but exciting.
Walking amidst the awe inspiring trails that line the Cradle of Forestry, it's hard to imagine that just over a hundred years ago this area had been devastated by abuse and over-farming. The current health of the forests are a testament to over a century of sustainable management practices. It all started in the late 19th century when George W. Vanderbilt purchased 125,000 acres of land outside of Asheville, NC on which to establish the famous Biltmore Estate.
Forestry Classes at the Center
Vanderbilt hired Fredrick Law Olmstead, the father of modern American Landscape architecture, to oversee the landscaping and management of his new grounds. Recognizing the need for a forest manager to revitalize the area, Olmstead saw to the hiring of Gifford Pinchot. Pinchot, and later the German forester Dr. Carl A Schenck, devised and implemented forest management practices that began to return the land to its former health. By 1910, through careful cultivation and management, the area once again boasted the sustainable beauty that the 55,000 annual visitors to the Cradle of Forestry have come to love.
The Cradle of Forestry offers a variety conservation and forestry education geared towards educators, the general public, and K-12. For K through 12 teachers, home school parents, Scout and other youth leaders, the Cradle provides lesson plans, interesting facts and general guidance on teaching Forest Conservation. The General Public education programs cover topics as diverse as woodscaping, Native Landscaping and Homes in the Forest, land stewardship, and more.
Forest Discovery Center
Interactive exhibits provide an engaging way for the whole family to learn about the importance of forest management. Kids will love the fire fighting helicopter simulator as they're taken over a raging forest fire, and everyone enjoys the center's 15 hands-on exhibits. The center also features an 18-minute movie, a scavenger hunt, and a land management computer game. Don't forget to drop by the Giving Tree Gift Shop and Forest Bounty Café.