Alaska SAF

Special Projects and Articles

New Documentary on Carl Schenck and the Beginning of American Forestry Showing at Morris Thompson Cultural Center in Fairbanks

May 16th (Arbor Day) at 3:00 PM

On Monday May 16th , as part of the 50th anniversary of Alaska’s Arbor Day celebration, the Yukon River Chapter of the Society of American Foresters will host a free screening of America’s First Forest, the first full-length, in-depth documentary film ever made about legendary forester and educator Carl Schenck. This new film explores Carl Schenck’s work at the Biltmore Estate and its impact on the conservation movement.

America’s First Forest: Carl Schenck and the Asheville Experiment is produced by the Forest History Society in cooperation with Bonesteel Films. The film tells the story of how Carl Schenck realized Frederick Law Olmsted’s vision of introducing forestry to America. It was on George Vanderbilt’s magnificent Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina that a 120,000-acre forest became America’s first sustainably managed forest. Here the nation’s first forestry school was founded, and the call for scientifically based forest management was inspired

Although probably best known as the author of the classic memoir Cradle of Forestry in America, Schenck is also renowned for his work as an educator, forester, lumberman, and forest conservation advocate. Central to Schenck’s extraordinary career and impact was establishing the Biltmore Forest School—America’s first and arguably most influential. With the Biltmore Forest School and his experiments on the ground, Schenck laid the foundation for the conservation movement in the twentieth century and still inspires people today.

Drawing on Carl Alwin Schenck's memoir Cradle of Forestry in America: The Biltmore Forest School, 1898–1913, the new documentary America's First Forest is the first film to examine the pivotal role of Biltmore Estate chief forester Carl Schenck and America’s first school of forestry in American history. Though the conservation movement and professional forestry began on Biltmore’s forested lands—now preserved and celebrated as the Cradle of Forestry in America near Asheville—Carl Schenck remains an unheralded early leader of both.  

America’s First Forest is distributed by the Forest History Society, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization located in Durham, North Carolina. The Society links the past to the future by identifying, collecting, preserving, interpreting, and disseminating information on the history of interactions between people, forests, and their related resources—timber, water, soil, forage, fish and wildlife, recreation, and scenic or spiritual values. Through programs in research, publication, and education, the Society promotes and rewards scholarship in the fields of forest, conservation, and environmental history while reminding all of us about our important forest heritage.

To learn more about the Forest History Society and the America's First Forest movie, visit www.americasfirstforest.org.