2000 BES Abstracts

Forest History in the Baltimore Ecosystem Study Area, 1906 - 1916

G. L. Buckley

In 1906, the General Assembly of Maryland created the State Board of Forestry and appointed a "technically trained" individual to assume the responsibilities of "State Forester." One of the first tasks this fledgling agency undertook was a detailed survey of forest resources for each of Maryland's 23 counties. Maryland's first state forester, Fred Besley, completed the survey over a 5-year period, examining every tract of forest land of five acres or more. The set of forest cover maps and reports produced as a result of this effort provide us with the first detailed spatial information regarding the extent and condition of Maryland's forest resources. Writing in 1909, Besley noted that "Just pride may be taken in the fact that Maryland has more detailed and accurate information concerning her forests than is known concerning the forests of any other State," suggesting that Maryland may have been the first state to launch such an ambitious program. This particular project aims to: 1) reconstruct the forest cover of the LTER-BES area for the time period ca. 1906 - 1916, and 2) use state agency reports and surveys, census data, company records, and historical newspapers and photographs to identify key social and economic forces driving ecological change at this time.