Members of the Charles H. Taylor family, along with Jim Sitts of Columbia Carolina Forest Products, at a recent North Carolina Tree Farmers meeting.
The North Carolina Forestry Association has named former Congressman Charles H. Taylor of Brevard the 2015 North Carolina Tree Farmer of the year. Taylor, his wife Elizabeth, sons Owen, Bryan and Charles Robert, together with grandchildren Oliver, Tilly, David Robert, Hudson, Hart and Thorne accepted the award on behalf of the Taylor family.
The Taylor family has managed tens of thousands of acres of forest and crop land in the Southeast, as well as abroad, for over one hundred years. The family’s ancestors settled on land that is now part of the Pisgah National Forest and were instrumental in promoting healthy forests during the turn of the century. For 16 years Taylor represented Western North Carolina’s 11th District in the United States Congress. He was the only licensed forester to serve in Congress during that time. He chaired the Appropriations Interior Committee, which funded the U.S. Forest Service and National Parks together with the Blue Ridge Parkway, for which Taylor obtained funding for construction of permanent new headquarters in Western North Carolina which was about to be relocated. Taylor was selected Forest Land Owner of the Year in 1997 by the Forestry Landowners Association at the Southern Forestry Conference.
He and his family have agreed to contribute to the Conservation Fund of America by the bargain sale of thousands of acres of land in Transylvania and Haywood counties. Most of the land, making up the largest undeveloped tract in Western North Carolina, will become multiple use state forest managed land, with a smaller amount protecting the Blue Ridge Parkway. The largest portion of the long-time family property will become Headwaters State Forest, with the state managing water and timber resources, as well as hunting, fishing and other multiple uses. Taylor and his family were also honored for their efforts to create conservation and multiple use practices on their landholdings for more than a century. Over the years, Taylor has spoken to both students and adults throughout the nation about using the best silviculture knowledge in managing our nation’s soil, water, wildlife and forests.
America’s best land grant universities and experimental stations have been gathering science for over 100 years, in how to use today’s management and technology in producing materials and chemicals from the renewable resource of the forest. Taylor pointed out that many of the “political environmentalists” have ignored their forefather’s teachings, as well as those of land grant universities. In holding hearings over the years in Congress, Taylor invited many of these organizations to attend and testify on legislation. “Often people would walk into the hearing room, which had beautiful wooden floors, beautiful wooden paneling, sit down in a wooden chair at a wooden table, take up a piece of paper and a wooden pencil and say never cut a tree, forgetting that the table where they sat would have to be made from wood, steel, plastic or perhaps glass. The wood would be the only renewable resource,” Taylor stated. “It could be used for hundreds of years, retaining the carbon that it had sequestered and perhaps after the original table had worn out to provide chipboard, which could be laminated for other wooden products. The other options such as steel and oil-based plastic would be finite, and far more detrimental to the environment. Many of these groups would say ‘I don’t mind you using timber just don’t cut the trees’. As the world’s population increases, we must continue to use our best science to rely on renewable resources as we conserve our finite resources.”
Taylor was also a leader in Congress for environmental education programs impacting the nations forests, obtaining funding that helped train teachers to educate thousands of public school students about forest health and served on the board of the Cradle of Forestry in Pisgah National Forest.