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Conserving Southern Longleaf

Conserving Southern Longleaf: Herbert Stoddard and the Rise of Ecological Land Management

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Conserving Southern Longleaf
    Book Description:

    The Red Hills region of south Georgia and north Florida contains one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in North America, with longleaf pine trees that are up to four hundred years old and an understory of unparalleled plant life. At first glance, the longleaf woodlands at plantations like Greenwood, outside Thomasville, Georgia, seem undisturbed by market economics and human activity, but Albert G. Way contends that this environment was socially produced and that its story adds nuance to the broader narrative of American conservation. The Red Hills woodlands were thought of primarily as a healthful refuge for northern industrialists in the early twentieth century. When notable wildlife biologist Herbert Stoddard arrived in 1924, he began to recognize the area's ecological value. Stoddard was with the federal government, but he drew on local knowledge to craft his land management practices, to the point where a distinctly southern, agrarian form of ecological conservation emerged. This set of practices was in many respects progressive, particularly in its approach to fire management and species diversity, and much of it remains in effect today. Using Stoddard as a window into this unique conservation landscape, Conserving Southern Longleaf positions the Red Hills as a valuable center for research into and understanding of wildlife biology, fire ecology, and the environmental appreciation of a region once dubbed simply the "pine barrens."

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-4129-3
    Subjects: Environmental Science, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    Paul S. Sutter

    Anybody who has read widely in American environmental history has come across Herbert Stoddard’s name. Stoddard has made cameo appearances in some of the most important books in the field. In her pioneering study of Aldo Leopold’s evolving thought on predator-prey relations, Thinking like a Mountain, Susan Flader noted in passing that “unquestionably the most significant research in early game management was by Herbert L. Stoddard.” In Fire in America, Stephen Pyne argued that it was Stoddard who “gave scientific credibility to the subject of wildlife management through fire.” In Saving America’s Wildlife, his influential history of American wildlife conservation,...

    (pp. xvii-xxii)
    (pp. 1-18)

    Just outside of the city limits of Thomasville, Georgia, runs a public dirt road called Pine Tree Boulevard. It was once a perimeter road, but in recent years the city moved parts of it due to various zoning or planning schemes. There remains, however, one section about a mile in length that is surrounded by the most spectacular longleaf pine woodland one will ever see. The forest is part of Greenwood Plantation, a former antebellum plantation purchased by wealthy northerners a few years after the Civil War. The big house and surrounding structures are impressive and have an important place...

  7. CHAPTER 1 From Public Playground to Private Preserve
    (pp. 19-55)

    John W. Masury, a wealthy paint manufacturer from New York, recounted his 1889 southern journey to Thomasville, Georgia, as nothing less than an ascent into the heavens. On the train ride from New York, “rain was the order all the way … until Thomasville was almost in sight. An hour before we reached our destination the clouds broke away and revealed the sun’s face, and for sixty consecutive days ‘old Sol’ rose in splendor and set in glory.” His stay that winter was almost Edenic. In contrast to the grubby urban environs of New York, in the countryside between Thomasville...

  8. CHAPTER 2 The Development of an Expert
    (pp. 56-80)

    Herbert Stoddard’s journey south in early February 1924 must have been a little nostalgic. He had spent eight childhood years in the longleaf pine forests of central Florida, trapping a variety of mammals and reptiles, running with cattle herders, amassing a collection of wild pets, and generally running roughshod over the forest. This was his first visit to the southeast in twenty-four years, and this time he came in a far different capacity. He was now a professional ornithologist and government agent, and the work he carried out would not only change land management in the Red Hills, it would...

  9. CHAPTER 3 Putting Fire in Its Place
    (pp. 81-115)

    As he did most every day while visiting the Red Hills region of south Georgia and north Florida, Henry Beadel—the son of a northern industrialist—was quail hunting with his brother, Gerald, and their African American driver, Charley. It was a chilly afternoon in February, late 1890s. Upon reaching their shooting grounds, Beadel witnessed the unthinkable: “We saw the whole country on fire, which within a few minutes left the ground black and bare except for scattered clumps of bushes.” An area that only the day before stood as an idyllic scene of grand pine woodlands interspersed with small,...

  10. CHAPTER 4 Stalking Wildlife Management
    (pp. 116-142)

    Herbert Stoddard’s struggle with foresters over the use of fire demanded much of his attention before and after publishing The Bobwhite Quail, but his principal interest during these years was to carve out a niche for wildlife management as a professional field. He was much more interested in sorting out the complex interactions of wildlife, plant life, and human land use than getting caught up in the convoluted world of forestry policy. And no area in wildlife management needed more work than predator-prey relations. In contrast to fire, however, Stoddard did not consider the local perspective on predators a good...

  11. CHAPTER 5 Wild Land in Cultivated Landscapes
    (pp. 143-171)

    As Herbert Stoddard put the final touches on The Bobwhite Quail in early 1930 from his temporary home in Washington, D.C., several of his closest acquaintances busily concocted plans for his future. He already acted as the Biological Survey’s representative for the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturing Institute’s game fellowship program, the first real attempt to insert wildlife research and management into the nation’s universities. That program’s leader, Aldo Leopold, considered Stoddard the nation’s premier mind in wildlife research, and he had plans for Stoddard that included increased research activity from within the Biological Survey, a PhD degree, and eventually...

  12. CHAPTER 6 From Wildlife Management to Ecological Forestry
    (pp. 172-199)

    In late 1941 two very different storms came to bear on life in the Red Hills that would transform Herbert Stoddard’s daily work and legacy. One was the worldwide upheaval of World War II, which created a strong, lucrative market for timber; the other, more circumscribed and quite literally a storm, rotated up from the Gulf of Mexico, leaving substantial wind damage in its wake as it passed through the Red Hills. The hurricane was relatively small, as such storms go. It was, however, a considerable disturbance event—to use the neutral terminology of ecologists—and it set into motion...

  13. CHAPTER 7 Bringing Agrarian Science to the Public
    (pp. 200-222)

    By the 1950s Herbert Stoddard had become something of a cult figure among American naturalists and scientists. Though less engaged in professional matters after World War II, he continued to host a steady stream of visitors of all stripes at Sherwood: academic biologists eager to see some of the finest remaining longleaf woodlands in the coastal plain; government officials usually seeking out subtle ways to subvert official management policy; wildlife managers looking for the latest field techniques; and, as always, ornithologists hunting down information on the latest bird migration or simply looking for good bird habitat. Stoddard, in other words,...

    (pp. 223-228)

    Herbert Stoddard died on November 15, 1970. Though almost too poetic to be true, he is said to have passed with a copy of Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac in his lap.¹ Apocryphal or not, it is appropriate to link their legacies together. Leopold did more than anyone during the interwar years to promote a new way of thinking about the American landscape, and Stoddard did more than anyone to translate that thinking into applicable land management. Together, they realized that the prospects for nature in the modern world came down to a series of human choices. With their...

  15. NOTES
    (pp. 229-262)
    (pp. 263-288)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 289-300)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 301-301)