The development of uneven-aged southern pine silviculture before the Crossett Experimental Forest (Arkansas, USA)
Although the Crossett Experimental Forest (CEF) played a well-publicized role in the development of uneven-aged southern pine silviculture, work on a selection method in Arkansas (USA) did not originate there. In 1925, Leslie Pomeroy and Eugene Connor acquired the Ozark Badger Lumber Company and initiated an expert-driven selection management system compatible with small parcels, with few absolute rules but requiring familiarity with local conditions. Deceptively simple in its application, the uneven-aged silviculture practised by Pomeroy and Connor removed mature shortleaf (Pinus echinata Mill.) and loblolly (Pinus taeda L.) pines to improve growth of the residual trees and encourage the establishment and release of pine seedlings. For their approach to work, Pomeroy and Connor needed self-sustaining, fast-growing, accessible stands, and the privately owned, pine-dominated forests of southern Arkansas proved amenable. By the mid-1930s, Pomeroy and Connor had engaged many local farmers and small forest owners in an arrangement coined ‘pine-tree banking’. In pine-tree banking, they tended thousands of hectares of other landowners’ forests with their brand of uneven-aged silviculture, providing landowners with a dependable income and helping to assure a steady supply of sawtimber for Ozark Badger. The success of Ozark Badger no doubt helped inspire later work at the CEF and helped draw many visitors, including foresters, government officials, visiting academics, university students, and other landowners. While the better-documented uneven-aged southern pine silviculture on the CEF soon outshone the efforts of Pomeroy, Connor, and Ozark Badger, they were the operational pioneers of this system in Arkansas and deserve to be recognized as such.