Southern Forests

by the early 1900’s, much of the south’s forests had been destroyed for lumber, turpentine, land, and by fires. Little thought was given up to this point to reforestation and preservation, but seeing that the base of the south’s economic structure was facing complete destruction, reforestation efforts started to be made. One of the most significant efforts of the 1920’s was The Mississippi Federation of Women’s Clubs organized a crusade to promote fire control, conserve the last remaining “virgin” timber, and plant news trees in blackened, devastated forest land. Although modest, the efforts of the Women’s Club was remarkable, and through endorsements of political candidates and grassroots campaigning, in 1926 the Mississippi General Assembly created the states forestry commission and put forest conservation was finally put on the map.

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Who knew women had such an impact on the early days of forestry and preservation? I’m learning very interesting stuff as I delve into the not-so-well talked about/ studied area of southern lumber industries, deforestation and preservation, and I’m excited to just keep going.

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The Fields

I need a break from Hereditics. I’ve been immersed in family photos and history for the last six weeks, and my mind is spinning in circles. So I turned  my thoughts to a collaborative project that has been on hold for the last few years. It involves civil war battle fields, and nature’s ability to heal while the traces of humanity can still be seen. And environmental consequences. It fascinated me, moving from the northwest to the south from the very beginning, that I found myself in the area of the U.S. with the richest colonial history, and the tree’s surrounded me seemed so young, while back home, the redwoods grow so big and tall you can easily for five people, standing fingertip to fingertip around a tree’s circumference. The reason for this discrepancy is actually quite simple: when Europeans first came over to the America’s, they took whatever they wanted, and that included that land. Which resulted in essential clear-cutting the southern east coast, which means many of the trees in the southern east are second-growth forests. There’s a whole book on the subject, and I’m sure much more information is out there where I will discover as I delve further into the research aspect of this project. But that’s not the point. The point was to show that destruction and recovery, and for that, the collaboration took me and my cohort to places that have been preserved strictly because of their historical significance, places that are already healing from the human presence strictly because of their significant human presence. It will be a long road I think, at least a 4-5 months, of going through negatives and research and formulating thoughts.

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