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Interview with Diane Beasley, November 13, 2002 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Title:
Interview with Diane Beasley, November 13, 2002
Date:
November 13, 2002
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Interviewee:  Beasley, Diane Interviewer:  Warren, Harry Date of Interview:  11/13/2002 Series:  Southeast North Carolina (SENC) Length  63 minutes

 

Warren: I’m in the office of is Dianne Beasley. My name is Harry Warren. I’m the camera person and the interviewer for this next oral history with Dianne Beasley.

Warren: Dianne, if you could tell us your name and spell it for us and where are you from and your educational background.

Beasley: I am Dianne Beasley. I am assistant director in the Division of Forest Resources in the Department of Environment Natural Resources. I have been with the division 30 years and have lived most of that time in Wade County, now residing in Wilson County. My educational background is business and administrative. I’m not a forester per se.

Warren: Now you said you lived… Are you originally from Wade County?

Beasley: From Johnston actually earlier on.

Warren: Born and raised in Johnston, Smithville?

Beasley: Clayton actually.

Warren: Just down the road here.

Beasley: Right, right, and early on moved to Wade County and then Wade County all but the last five years and now a resident of Wilson County.

Warren: And you’ve always been with the State Forest Service.

Beasley: Always been with the state forest service, 30 years right?

Warren: State government, well you’re not a forester. How did you end up here at the State Forest Service? You started 30 years ago, 1972 I guess.

Beasley: 1971, actually at that time probably just looking for a job and thinking that I wanted to work with state government, learned about the Division of Forest Resources or at that time the North Carolina Forest Service. I thought that I would like that kind of work, came and interviewed and the rest is history. Just have loved what you know, I do and what we do here and have just stayed for 30 years.

Warren: Well what did you do the first few years of your career here? What position were you hired to fill?

Beasley: I actually came in not working directly with the state forester, but for at that time we refer to it now as one of the section chiefs and I worked directly with him doing administrative assistant type duties.

Warren: Who was that section chief?

Beasley: That person was Paul Tillman. He was in the engineering section at that time. We don’t even have that section named as such anymore, but it was the engineering section.

Warren: What kind of work did they do, the engineering section?

Beasley: Well that included the lands, the capital. Actually it broadened out more and included purchasing…and we’ve changed all that now, but it was all the lands and our buildings and our leases, those kinds of things as well as Mr. Tillman did a lot of the purchasing of the materials that we needed, those kind of things.

Warren: And that’s been rolled into another section?

Beasley: Well we’ve changed over the years. Yes, it has, it’s been. Those particular duties have been spread out and we no longer have an engineering section, but I guess some of those duties are now in what we call the administrative services section and also a lot of them in the development of forest management sections.

Warren: So you started then as an administrative assistant for Mr. Tillman in the engineering section and that was in 1971. How long were you in that capacity?

Beasley: Well not very long. Actually probably less than a year. The state forester at that time was Ralph Wingforth. His right arm person was about to leave on a maternity leave and so I guess in thinking back, he saw something in me and decided that he wanted me to come and work with him. And of course you know, you do that when the boss asks you to do that.

So I started working with Ralph at that time. And it was probably less than a year. It wasn’t with Mr. Tillman very long. Of course, he was very upset when I was taken away from him, but nevertheless that had to be. That was the beginning of a great career for me. So I worked with Ralph until his untimely death in 1980.

Warren: 1980, I was just talking to Joe Hogue this morning and he talked a bit about Ralph and the development of the state educational forest.

Beasley: That’s where that came about.

Warren: He made Ralph Winkler sound like a very extraordinary man, a visionary man. Did you find that to be true?

Beasley: He was absolutely an unbelievable teacher, visionary. I mean he was the ultimate visionary. He was a politician, not like the politicians that we think of today, the characters that might come to mind. He was so savvy, so influential and he was known in the state, throughout the state and the nation. He was very active on the national scene, served as President of the National Association of State Foresters, just a natural leader.

A great teacher, he’s probably the best professor I ever had. He was a perfectionist. He really expected and required nothing less than the very, very best that anyone could give him. He was always testing his employees.

Warren: How so?

Beasley: He would get you to analyze something that maybe came in through the mail and get your opinion on it. That was always, in the very beginning, kind of frightening for me because I felt like he was always putting me on the spot. But he did that, but he did that…of course I learned later, to help me and the others. He did it with all his people, his young foresters.

He would ask them, I’ve been around him when he would ask them if they had read the latest journal or some paper that was in the last journal. Of course they knew better than to say I have because they knew he would question them about it. I’ve known them their answer to be, no sir, but I will. You better bet that they did, probably that very evening because he would come back at a time when you didn't expect and ask you something about it.

He was just one of those people who was constantly grooming people and making a better employee. Just a really great writer so I guess I came with a real love of writing at 18, grammar, those kinds of background. I thought I wanted to be an English teacher actually. So I enjoyed that so he continued the schooling in that because we were always studying over a piece of work. His speeches were, I mean he gave great speeches, but he just labored hours and hours over them and putting the words down on paper.

Warren: Who was he giving his speeches too?

Beasley: Well we’d always have a personnel conference, all the division employees of the forest service each year. Not all, but the major program staff, we would do a statewide personnel conference and he would have the opening of that conference. He’d spend a couple to three hours. So that talk was very long and was real substantive. So he’d put a lot of time in those efforts and do those kinds of things. He gave a lot of speeches nationally. They’d ask him to talk.

Warren: What kinds of ideas was he putting forth in these talks?

Beasley: Well he was a true visionary. He saw things. Like we’re always now still digging up papers that he wrote and seeing how right on target he was. I mean today, the fire program, he saw things that we’re still doing.

Warren: Can you think of any specific examples?

Beasley: He was big on air operations. He wanted to improve and increase the aircraft that we had. He really believed in aircraft in fighting fires. He thought that was a great tool and at that time of course we didn't have very many. Of course that’s expanded greatly. So I think a lot of his vision was probably around the fire program, but yet he was also good management. He was really a very good technical forester as well.

The educational state forest program, that idea came to be while he was there.

Warren: That was his baby.

Beasley: Yeah, he saw so much potential in that. He knew that we needed to have an educational state forest within a 50 mile radius of the population centers of North Carolina. He just knew that that was the thing to educate the children in the public about forestry. So those things he was a little ahead of his time on.

Think back, you know, the environmental education and some of those things have become the buzz word today, but we were doing it 30 years ago. His vision had always been in that because we had leaders as Ralph Winkler who started those things out. He was a quiet man, but walked with a lot of respect. He was also, not many people know this about him, probably not very many, but he was a poet. He wrote beautiful poems.

Warren: Now did he write poems about the forest?

Beasley: Well he did most of that of course at night and actually I think he probably did. I didn't deal with any. I know his wife did, but he used to talk to me about when he left the forest service, he wanted to spend a lot of time writing poetry. He wanted Patina to help him.

Warren: Did he have aspirations of being Kilmer?

Beasley: I don’t think so. I think it was just something that he liked and I don’t know. Like I said, he was kind of a quiet person. I don’t know what he would have done, but I do believe they would have been worthy of something had he had the opportunity.

Warren: It would be wonderful to find one of those if it related to the forest especially.

Beasley: It would. We probably do need to research that. I’m certain that his wife probably …

Warren: Is she still alive?

Beasley: Yes, his second wife is still alive and I hear from her occasionally and she’s doing well.

Warren: That’s good. But he had an untimely death. Was he the state forester right up until his death? He died of cancer in 1980?

Beasley: He died of cancer in 1980. Yes, he came in one morning and mentioned to me that the night before he had felt a lump in his neck and he told me that he was going to the doctor that very day. So he did that and found out that it was cancer and that it was malignant and he left pretty soon after that. I believe that was in May of ’80 and I really have not thought about this in a long time so I may be a little off on my dates, but he never came back after that. He still was state forester, he still was director.

At that time I was the only one then down in the director’s office. Through me and the other members of his staff, he continued to be state forester.

Warren: Even though he wasn’t present?

Beasley: Even though he wasn’t present. I visited him at the hospital and at home a lot and took him work and brought work back, you know. Some other staff members visited as well. At some point later on, Bo Green became active, state forester.

Actually I believe now that I’m thinking about that, that was after his death. It was after his death.

Warren: That Bo Green became active.

Beasley: He was just state forester, acting, before he eventually was named state forester. But Ralph had a tremendous ability to size up a person and he would spend long hours even in the hospital talking to me about who he had in the division and why they were where they were and talking about me and my future and what I brought to the division and what I had ahead of me. It’s amazing to think that he’s right. You can tell, that brings a little mention…

Warren: I can see that you’re touched by it after all these years.

Beasley: I think a lot of people are because if you’ve ever met and worked with somebody like that, that closely, it really makes a profound difference in your life, one for the better you know, I might add. But that’s probably enough there.

Warren: It makes it a pleasure to come to work, doesn’t it?

Beasley: Oh absolutely. I say that and we can talk about some of the other state foresters and what they also brought to the division which was a lot. They also brought their own perspective. But I often say now to people, which is amazing, I feel like I remember Jim Brown always talked about I love my job. So I say laughingly sometimes that I feel like Jim Brown, I love my job.

We just do, the division does such great things for North Carolina and the citizens and the public and I’m just glad to be a part of it.

Warren: What department was the forest service?

Beasley: We started out at that time we were the Department of Conservation and Development. Then that was under, at that time, Roy Sowers who was the head of the department. I believe in 1971 with the reorganization of state government, I believe under Bob Scott governor, we became the Department of Natural and Economic Resources. We became known then as the Division of Forest Resources with a director rather than the North Carolina Forest Service with a state forester.

Of course we have continued to use both titles and names synonymously all these years because most people in the field, landowners with whom we work, we were referred to as the North Carolina Forest Service. But then we were natural and economic resources and later became Natural Resources and Community Development. Then the Department of Environment, Health and Natural Resources and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

So I have seen and known personally which is when I think about it pretty remarkable that I’ve known 13 secretaries on a personal basis and their staff and have known and have worked with four of the seven state foresters in the history of the division.

Warren: Four of the seven?

Beasley: There’s only been seven in the history and I’ve been with four of them to begin with...

Warren: So there were three before…

Beasley: Three before I came to work, before Ralph. Started out with J. S. Hones and then it was Bill Bikler and then Fred Claridge. Then Ralph Winkler became state forester in 1967.

Warren: In ’67, how old was he when he passed in 1980?

Beasley: Oh heavens, I do not remember. Obviously I was so young he’s probably the age I am, I’m sure he was in his 50’s, maybe he was 60 he might have been 61 to 62.

Warren: But a long life ahead of him.

Beasley: A long life in today’s world, yes. So it was a great loss. I mean just a huge loss because everybody thought so much of him. He was just a wonderful leader. So obviously it was a lot of guessing and wondering about who would follow him.

Warren: I would have hated to be the next person in line. That was Bo Green?

Beasley: That was Bo Green. Bo, like I said, was named acting eventually by the secretary and then later was appointed by the governor as the state forester. Bo though had of course had been as Ralph, came up through the ranks. He was a division person. Bo had been in many positions and stayed with the division and was a real hands on operations kind of guy.

Actually he was a great professional forester. Probably really led many of the staff studies that ended up laying the framework for a lot of the programs that were initiated during Ralph’s time. So those programs being probably one of the best in the state forester development program. It’s probably unequal as far as the great incentive based on forestation, reforestation programs.

Warren: I was going to ask, could you tell us about that program a little bit.

Beasley: Well it started, legislation was enacted, like I said we had done a lot of staff study work prior to that, but it started in 1976 and 1977. There were really two parts of the bill, the development act itself and then a forest product assessment portion of it because the forest product of the industry puts in an assessment to that, that’s how part of the money comes in so we get money from that which stays with the Department of Revenue

We use that along with an appropriations from the General Assembly each year that goes into the pot that goes to the landowners and now is a 60/40 program where the state pays 40% and the landlord pays 60% of practices that they might need to put more trees in the ground. So it’s a total reforestation effort.

Warren: When did this start?

Beasley: In 1976-77, those were the two years of the General Assembly when there was a law passed.

Warren: So Ralph started this too.

Beasley: And Bob Jordan, the former lieutenant governor and members of the General Assembly that was pretty much his baby in the legislature. That’s just been a tremendous program…

Warren: Really, so Bob Jordan headed up that from the legislative standpoint and worked with the state forest service closely in developing that.

Beasley: Yes, in developing that. The forest industry was in with that as well. Like I said they were in agreement too to have an assessment on their products. So that’s been a real important program. It continues to be today. We still of course get a state appropriation that has sometimes decreased. In fact, it’s down now from where it started out, but it needs to be increased. That’s one of the real needs in state forestry.

We need more money in that program because the landowners want it. They need and often times that’s the extra thing, the incentive that keeps them keeping their land in trees. So it’s very, very important program. It is today and I think it will continue. I don’t see the end of that one based on just how popular it is with the landowners. There’s a waiting list usually, landowners wanting to get assistance.

Others during that time, with Bo, but actually with Ralph, but Bo had a lot to do with it, our forestation program itself, educational state forest we talked a little bit about. The law enforcement program, I think that probably started during that time. Wentworth___ thought there was certainly a need for a law enforcement program in the division for arson.

Warren: Has arson been a major problem?

Beasley: It’s a major problem in North Carolina.

Warren: Accidental arson or people that are actually wanting to see the woods burn.

Beasley: Actually more to just see it burn.

Warren: Why would somebody do that?

Beasley: Well people, I think for various reasons. Maybe some of them are not totally all together maybe. But probably more, a lot of folks get mad with their joining landowner for some reason, may decide to do something like that. A lot of people sometimes it’s even younger people who might just do it to do it. Then we have unbelievably we have members of the volunteer fire departments who also sometimes are charged and get into the act.

Warren: That’s kind of ironic.

Beasley: It’s ironic and people wouldn’t think that, but I guess the enjoy doing what they’re doing and they like fire.

Warren: I even read last year about a couple of guys they caught in West Virginia because they liked to see the helicopters fly over.

Beasley: Probably another reason. It’s just amazing as we know in today’s world what makes people do the strange things they do, but they get their kicks in strange ways. We do have a real problem with arson. But, I hate to say it, but I think it really ranks #2 behind just debris burning and that type as far as reasons the woods burn. So it’s an ongoing effort all the time. We’ve got some guys who stay behind that. So that’s a big program.

Bo continued to move the forest management program. He was probably more into management. Of course management then, even though he had been in the field and had been in the district and he knew the fire program well, he also saw the real benefit of reforestation and management and moved that program forward where as probably Ralph was more a fire man, Bo was more management. Both programs moved forward during those gentleman’s tenures in the office.

Warren: So Bo was appointed in ’81.

Beasley: Probably and I didn't and should have looked at my dates, but I guess we had him acting for a while. It took a while for that decision to be made on who the state forester would be, but I believe it probably was…I think Ralph died in October of ’80 so Bo was appointed sometime in ’81.

Warren: How long was he state forester?

Beasley: I think he was until ’85. Not that long.

Warren: Did he leave and go…

Beasley: He retired.

Warren: So he was an older fellow when he was appointed?

Beasley: Yes, but today I don’t really think of him as that old. He really wasn’t at that time.

Warren: He still alive today?

Beasley: Yeah he would probably not appreciate my saying that because he really wasn’t that old when I left. There again I really don’t know, but I think Bo was in his 60’s. I don’t know where he is now. He’s a tree farmer. He’s a Christmas tree grower.

Warren: Oh really, western part of the state?

Beasley: Lives, yes, has land there and lives in Cary, always, you know, well for a long time he was on staff here in Raleigh, lived in Cary and still does. We still see a lot of him, he still comes back.

Warren: He’d be a good person for an interview.

Beasley: He absolutely, I was going to suggest to you, I think it would be very important to interview the state foresters who are still living. Of course all of them are except Ralph and I’m amazed. He would have just been an excellent wonderful interview. I don’t, the forest industry society ever did interview him, but they sure should have. It would have been a remarkable amount of information that would come out of that man.

But Bo Green would be an absolute excellent, really great one to interview. Then after Bo, came Harry Layman. Harry was the first outside forester we had ever had in the division so it was a shock.

Warren: What do you mean by that?

Beasley: Well before that, of course Ralph had come up through the ranks, so had Bo, Holmes really did, so did Claridge.

Warren: Now when you say Ralph and Bo came up through the ranks, the ranks of the North Carolina State Forester Service or somewhere else?

Beasley: No, North Carolina State Forest Service. So they had spent their career right here in the division. I guess people would think, or the division personnel would think that it would always be that way. Even at that point, things were beginning to change. Politics were beginning to matter more and more I guess outside influences were coming into play. Before that, you know, well when I started years ago were, were, the white hat folks, we could do no wrong.

We just came in there and did great things and left and people were happy which we still do I believe. But of course in today’s environment, we’re plagued by controversy. There’s special interest groups. Folks want to throw darts at how we do what we do and it always has been…communication always has been the number one need by whole career and it continues to be that. Communication and education. We just have to continue to do a better job of it.

I say a better job because we’ve got to do it better than we’ve ever done it before even. Even though we’re doing it much better now than we ever did, you know, it’s just better and better. We just really have to do that.

Warren: But when Ralph and Bo were head of the agency, you didn't have a lot of environmental groups. Were there any in fact?

Beasley: Well we had the Sierra Club, the old established ones, but other than that, I don’t think so Harry. There weren’t the ones like there are now. There are lots of them.

Warren: The Sierra Club, I mean you didn't have any major conflicts with them? They weren’t protesting you?

Beasley: No, absolutely not. We had great relationships with the group, worked with them closely because obviously we see ourselves as environmentalists. We work really hard at doing it in a sound forest management, fire practices, environmentally safe and based on science I might add which I guess some of the barbs are not always based on science. That’s probably the difference.

Warren: More an emotional..

Beasley: More of an emotional response.

Warren: Well where did all these groups come from and how did things get so contentious? We were just at the NCFA and you can feel the tension sometimes between what they’re saying there and groups they feel like are actively working against them. Where did that come from? How did it get so out of whack?

Beasley: Golly, it would be interesting, I’m sure you’ve asked this question of other folks and I’ve never spent a lot of time thinking about it. I would guess that just as time and the whole political environment changes, people come into the state. It probably started more out west and came east because I know Washington State was dealing with a lot of things that we are dealing with now, you know, years and years ago.

So people probably knew people coming in, people with their own agendas and people that maybe didn't grow up on the land, that didn't see the value of trees. I think people take them for granted. They don’t really think about, they probably would not be able to get through a single day…they wouldn’t be able to get through a single day doing the things that they do without trees.

Warren: Oh, well just look around your office.

Beasley: Exactly, obviously paper and everything we do. Of course, the help, the contributing factors there so sometimes I’m amazed at how people can be against us and against what we do, but I guess it’s agendas more than anything. Either they don’t like cutting trees at all or they don’t like planting pines or they don’t like…you know, for various reasons.

Then you have groups that grow and get bigger, you know I guess. I guess it’s all about environmental activism I guess. There again it kind of goes back to why people set fires. What makes people think the way they do. And everybody feels very strongly about their beliefs and that’s okay, that’s good. But we have to be able to mesh the two and counter the extreme use with rational thinking and science based forestry. I think that’s where we are today and we’ve got to convince the legislature, the politicians and the public that we are doing the right thing and show them.

Warren: You never had to do that before. Some of the old-timers tell me that they think part of the reason that we’ve got so many groups that are pulling against each other, going into opposite directions is that, it was always a take for granted attitude. Like the white hat, everybody loves us. There’s no reason to communicate this to the public because they all love us anyway. And they say probably the biggest failing the forestry industry has had is educating and communicating to the public exactly what is going on.

Beasley: And there again like I said I think that we in the division did that. I think we started early with that, but we didn't do enough of it. We talk and we stay say that now, that we in the forest industry say that we’ve done too much of preaching to the choir and we haven’t gone out and gotten the attention of the public. We thought we did that, but you’re right. I think the forest industry didn't do that at all, very little of it probably.

I think it caught up with us and them. I’m not sure at what point we were overwhelmed with the different thinking out there because we really knew that we did the right thing.

Warren: Do you remember when there was…do you remember any particular watershed crisis out there where you knew that something had happened, some protest that was up here in Raleigh or anything like that?

Beasley: I probably should. I’m sure there was…

Warren: Kind of a watershed moment. What are some of the controversies that the state forest service has had to deal with?

Beasley: I think, well obviously statewide is just the whole issue of planting trees versus cutting. Do we have enough trees which we do. We have to make sure that and we’ve got the issue of land use change is great in North Carolina because too many forests are going to pavement and we’ve got to make sure that landowners have an incentive to keep their land in trees and forestry rather than sell out for the short term economic benefit that developers may want to give to them or bring to them. So that’s something that’s probably an ongoing challenge facing North Carolina today.

Of course I think again there’s the whole issue of why we practice forestry the way we do, why we plant pines and hardwoods and the way we do it. I mean that’s probably the biggest thing, how we practice the forest practices guidelines and we make sure that we’re getting heavily into education with loggers and teaching them the right way to do it because obviously that’s the thing that people don’t like and they say is the problem out there – that the cutting of trees is fouling up too many things and the way the loggers may come in and do it and leave and leave the mess.

People don’t want to see, especially people that move into the state more so than those of us who grew up on land, maybe that they don’t want to see, to ride down the road and see trees cut, clear cut next to the roads. They don’t want to go to the mountains and see the trees being cut because it’s an aesthetic factor with them.

So we have to change the way we do business. Trees are our greatest renewable resource so cutting trees is a necessity, but they grow back and we plant them back. Industry plants them back. It’s a natural process. Even fire, people don’t want to see a fire, they don’t want to smell smoke. They don’t want us to prescribe burnings which is a great tool in fire prevention because it causes smoke.

Warren: Some people want to live in a bubble it sounds like.

Beasley: So those are some of the controversies and some of the education challenges that we have to show people that those things aren’t bad. Just watch a forest after it has burned over. We don’t want that to happen and we’re really good at what we do. We’re probably best in the country as far as putting out forest fires and we’re great at that. Like our prescribed burning program, that we do it by prescription. It can be a good thing.

So it’s a continuing process that we’re doing things differently, but by doing it differently it brings more challenge to people who are concerned about the waters and buffers and all those things. Forestry has a real play in that. We’re doing our part and stepping up to the plate and working with the legislation that comes out and things of that sort, so its um… I think it will just continue.

Through education and outreach and those kinds of things, we run a lot of programs where we go in and work with the subdivisions. It’s just educating on all levels to reach out there and inform the people of what we’re all about and what forestry is all about.

Warren: You’re a great interview, you’re just go ho, just give you a little thing and you can go. I do want to get back, we’re down to our last fifteen minutes, want to get back to Harry. We’ve gotten through Bo Green. We’re just getting to Harry Layman who came around 1985-86.

Beasley: He came. I said he was the first outside, he came from forest industry.

Warren: Oh he came from the industry side.

Beasley: Right, he was an industry forester.

Warren: Do you recall, here in North Carolina?

Beasley: Yes, he came from your area now, Whiteville. He was with the old Federal Paperboard Company.

Warren: Oh really, down in Riegelwood.

Beasley: So he’d be another, he’s alive and well and another great interviewee.

Warren: Is he in my neck of the woods still?

Beasley: He certainly is, he lives in Lake Waccamaw. Saw him last week.

Warren: Somebody mentioned him to me. I will track him down.

Beasley: Saw him last week. He was at the closing of our bridge, but that’s another story. So he’d be an interesting one. By being from the industry, you can imagine he brought in new technologies, fresh new ideas. Harry was an idea man, had lots of ideas, not all of them necessarily would work, but he actually…our bridge, young offenders forest conservation program which is a program that we have that we work with and rehabilitate young offenders in the prison system, came about during Harry’s time with an idea that he had that we needed more people to fight fires, to help us fight fires in the mountains.

So he came up with that idea and we did lots of research and staff study and all that. It was a tough time, but we do have the bridge program now and it is a cooperative effort that we work with division prisons to use the young offenders to fight fire, to do community projects, work in state parks.

Warren: And that started under Harry.

Beasley: Yes that started under Harry, also Harry was probably one of the key ones too, that’s when we really started our work quality forest practices guidelines program which is a continuing big program especially now. Harry was a big environmentalist. He came into the division with that bent.

Warren: He was a big environmentalist, but he came from industry.

Beasley: He came from industry, but he believed…and there again I’ll say that we all are environmentalists and Harry was a forester, but he believed in doing it the right way and the right way for the environment. So he brought a lot of that in with it and we began to change some things, to change our way of thinking.

As you can imagine, he was up against some resistance from the people in the division because change is not always, you know, what people want to do, but it’s a necessary thing. We did do some changes. Harry also was the first one that really recognized that the Canadian aircraft CL-215 that we now have, one purchased later after Harry left, but he saw that work, worked with the Canadian government and was one of the first to push to get that incorporated into our North Carolina fire program.

During his time we did lease the 215 and fortunately like I say now, we have convinced legislature to purchase one of our own and it is wonderful tool for fire protection, fire control in North Carolina initial attack. So those were some of the things that came about when Harry was here.

Warren: How long was he state forester?

Beasley: He was state forester six years I believe, so he came in ’85 and I think he left in ’91. I may be off a little bit, but it was about then. Then came Stan Adams.

Warren: Stan’s been here since ’91?

Beasley: Yes, cause he’s been here since 2002, so what… over 10 years. I think he’s 11 now. So Stan comes in and brings a totally different perspective. He came from the US forest service. He had retired after 30+ years with the US forest service and had...

Warren: So he’s already retired once?

Beasley: Yes and had an extensive career in the US Forest Service traveling all over the country and spent his last 20 years in Atlanta in charge of public relations for the southern region. So he came in with a lot of new ideas, things from the forest service US and also having worked with all the other states with the US Forest Service, came in with a lot of new ideas and new relationships for us to build on and then of course his public relations background was a real strength for us.

Stan is there again, I liken him a lot, compare him somewhat to Ralph Winkler. I think he’s a great visionary as well. He’s a tremendous leader. He’s just a great manager, has a wonderful style about him. He’s just an extremely good technical forester. I don’t think he’s forgotten any of the science he ever learned. He’s just really, really sharp. Real respected, then again he’s become which all of them did. I don’t want to minimize any of the others involvement nationally because we worked very closely with the National Association of State Foresters which is an association of 50 states.

All of them have been very instrumental in the association on the national level, but Stan is very involved. He’s a past president of that association and is now president nationally, the Isaac Watley, a wonderful conservation organization nationally. So Stan is very respected in the state, south. No doubt when he retires he’ll have a lot of accomplishments under his belt.

Warren: Is that anytime soon? I mean if he’s working on a second retirement, he’s still a ways away.

Beasley: I think he’s probably like a lot of us. I mean I’m now beginning to see a lot of people with authority beginning to leave and I’m beginning to be one of the old-timers, probably the old-timer as far as the central office is concerned. Many of the field folks that I’ve known throughout my whole career, Stan is beginning to think about it I think and hopefully not anytime soon because I think he’s great with the division.

Warren: Does he spend a lot of his time dealing with the various opposing groups of forestry?

Beasley: He does and he works of course with the association as well. He spends a lot of time with NCFA, working with the forest industry, but he spends a lot of time working with outside groups, Southern Group State of Foresters of course, always working to make changes and deal with the problems facing forestry south wide and nationally. He’s on a lot of those groups, a lot of committees.

So it’s a constant. I lead the division’s legislative program. In that role, of course, I work with the members of legislature to educate and to give them the information that they need for the budget matters as well as through legislature that we might have. Also work with the congressional delegation the same way trying to monitor and track legislation. Stan does that as well.

He probably works more on the federal level because his job takes him to Washington quite a bit so we’re always trying to influence the legislation that’s out there or influence opinion leaders, legislative leaders on the benefits of forestry and why we need the resources that we have to have to do our job, the job that we’re mandated to which are many and those we’ve come to be expected to do.

We work hand in hand in doing those jobs as well as of course I’m a part of the management team of division as are the section chiefs and the regional foresters and back up Stan’s management team. We have a great team, make some good decisions we hope for the state of North Carolina.

I do hope that you interview the state foresters that we talked about today because I think that the state forester is the one individual who probably changes the face of forestry, state forestry in North Carolina more than any other when you really think about it because they’ve been around since time, since forestry began or division even began. There’s a long history of state foresters and things they bring to the table so I think they’re key leaders in state forestry in North Carolina.

Warren: We’re down to our last three minutes, pardon me for interrupting. I want to get a little bit more about you. I need to talk to you again.

Beasley: You know why I’m good over there at stuff over there across the street for Forestry of North Carolina because I love it.

Warren: Your position now, you started as an administrative assistant, but that’s not your position now.

Beasley: No, I’m assistant director for the Division of Forestry Resources.

Warren: Were you in another position between?

Beasley: No, it just evolved and people recognizing my talents I think in becoming…just the role evolving into this. My primary job is legislative and external affairs. I work with of course, the forestry association and a lot of the external groups and the public as well. I deal operationally too, but most of my time, I think, is spent on legislative matters.

Warren: When were you named…

Beasley: Since the 1980’s. During Bo’s time, the job started changing tremendously and it has continued to change. Under each state forester, I’ve probably taken on different varying responsibilities. It’s been a great career. Forestry is a great career for young folks. I think to stay in it you got to have that real appreciation for what we do out there, the difference that we make which we do.

We make a big difference and I think that young guys that go into forestry today have that same value system and they want to make a difference and know that they can in forestry. It’s the second largest industry that North Carolina has. We bring in a tremendous economic value to the state, in excess of 20 billion dollars. It’s the thing that really keeps our lifestyle healthy and beautiful as well.

Warren: Well I’ve been impressed how much foresters do love what they’re doing and you find so many people in our society today that don’t. Real quick, we’re down to our last minute, this office, how many people worked in this office when you started here in 1971? Do you have any idea, not the whole system? Just in Raleigh.

Beasley: We probably haven’t changed that much, its done, probably 40 to 50, now about 50 here. We have some folks that are considered Raleigh, but maybe work out of Clayton that are out there. We have about 50-55 in the Raleigh office and about 700 full-time permanent throughout the state and 200 more temporary folks. We’re divided into three regions and thirteen districts.

Warren: Would you do it all again, real quick.

Beasley: I’d do it absolutely all over again, I would, it’s been a great career for me feel like I’m making a difference, still making a difference, that’s while I’m still here.

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