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Interview with Harold Blanchard, January 29, 2002 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Title:
Interview with Harold Blanchard, January 29, 2002
Date:
January 26, 2002
Description:
Mr. Harold C. Blanchard, a second-generation forester, discusses the history, nature, and current concerns of his profession (including his views on the economic and environmental impact of forest preservation laws) in this interview conducted by Patricia Jones and Harry Warren.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee:  Blanchard, Harold Interviewer:  Jones, Patricia / Warren, Harry Date of Interview:  1/29/2002 Series:  Southeast North Carolina (SENC) Length  59 minutes

Jones: What we’re going to do, first of all, is to state your name, your address... The interview is taking place at the NC Museum of Forestry, January 29, 2002 , in Whiteville, North Carolina. Do you want to just give me your name and address, for the record...

Blanchard: My name is Harold C. Blanchard. Nickname “Butch”. Home is at Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina. Office is here in Whiteville.

Jones: Great. And, how long have you been in the area? You and/or your family?

Blanchard: This is hometown. Family moved here in 1941. And, we left to go off and then we had to come back.

Jones: How long were you gone?

Blanchard: School. Work.

Jones: Oh, ok....

Blanchard: “Home” is where... when you’ve flunked out of everything else you can always go back to...

Jones: (laughs) So your fam... your parents are from Lake Waccamaw?

Blanchard: No.

Jones: Where did they come...

Blanchard: Both my parents came South with the U.S. Forest Service.

Jones: Oh, ok...

Blanchard: They were from New York State.

Jones: From New York... that’s right, I remember that now. So you were born in North Carolina?

Blanchard: No... no. They were in the wilds of Arkansas.

Jones: (laughs) Ok.

Blanchard: So my mother went home to her Mother... where there were doctors...

Jones: So you went from New York...

Blanchard: ...so I could be here in the world.

Jones: So New York, Arkansas, then North Carolina, for you?

Blanchard: That’s probably right.

Jones: That’s as much... direct... And how long have you been involved in forestry?

Blanchard: All my life. I’m second generation forestry. My Dad was a Syracuse graduate in Forestry. I grew up hearing it “talked” and being around his friends. Its all I knew.

Warren: What was your Father’s name?

Blanchard: Harold E. Blanchard.

Jones: Good question.

Warren: All right... So what aspects of Forestry work do you do specifically? Lumbering, uh... surveying...?

Blanchard: Well, I’ve done a little bit of all of it. Started out as an “Industrial Forester” doing wood procurement for a pulp mill in Charleston, South Carolina. And, “Land Management” with cooperative land owners. Went from that to a “Timber Dealership” and a “Logger”. And, went from that to “Consulting Forestry” with individual land owners. And probably now, mostly involved in “Land Management”.

Warren: What’s in... what’s... I’m going to just interrupt here...

Jones: Please do... just interject, as you feel the need...

Warren: Uh, what’s involved with “Wood Procurement”? I mean you said, I mean... I can guess at that but...

Blanchard: Uh, the most direct level are Agents who go out and buy timber from land owners.

Warren: You look at the timber, you walk through the wood...

Blanchard: Estimate...

Warren: You measure the tree or... ?

Blanchard: Yep. Write the check. Or bring a logger in and hope that he can cut enough out of it so you get your check back (laughs)...

Jones: Right. Right.

Blanchard: ... in wood. On an industrial level, the “Wood Procurement” folks are primarily dealing with the buyer, which was the first definition I gave you, so that they’re managing the buyers and the dealers’ suppliers that they have... looking at a larger picture of trying to get a million cords a year procured or whatever the plant size would require.

Warren: Is that what your Father did also?

Blanchard: Well, he came here with the North Carolina Extension Service. One time... at that time, they were going to have an Extension Forester in every County just like they have a County Agent. And that was one of the things they started with the Raleigh Office and a few County Area Offices and the money was never there. Uh... and some of the commitments they made to him weren’t fulfilled. So, he actually Consulted for awhile... did Consulting work with land owners here and wound-up spending much of his time with Purvis Sledge (?) on his timber lands and acquiring timber. So... eventually Mr. Sledge hired him and he spent twenty-five years with him.

Jones: Then he went into business with him?

Blanchard: Yeah, he went back to Consulting. And that’s when I came back home... having ditched my Logging (?). (Laughs) Well... logging was good until it ran out of money.

Jones: Right... right. Exactly. So what was it about the Forest Industry that appeal to you to choose it as a career?

Blanchard: I think it was familiarity... being the fact that I grew up with... It was outdoors. It was not desk-bound. All the Foresters I knew, friends of my Father, were great people. Seemed like a good place to be...

Jones: Sure. Speaking of people that you’ve known, I’m sure many, many crazy characters, interesting people. Anybody that comes to mind, in your past ... present... that you’d like to tell us a story about?

Blanchard: (Laughs) I’ve learned a lot from a lot of folks. One of the fellows I’ve just mentioned was a retired cotton farmer down in South Carolina, Randolph Watson. Lived near Anderson, South Carolina, big cotton farmer... In the Fifties, the boll weevil just ate up the cotton crops. And he shut his [cotton] gin off and parked his equipment one day and said, “That’s it.”, and went to planting trees on about 2,000 acres of land, except for 300 that he kept to bird hunt on. And uh... he was just so multi-talented. One of the things he liked to do... do you know what a melodian is?

Jones: No, what is it?.

Blanchard: Its uh... well, its like a large music box. Plays a big perforated disc.

Jones: Ok ...the cylinders? They have the little...

Blanchard: Yeah. Yeah, except these are round discs and they’re beautiful furniture. Strictly mechanical but volume... just fill a room. If you can imagine a thirty-fingered person playing a piano that’s how much music you could get out of a melodian because you could have any number of... he was... anyway, he was really interesting. He was the one who shared with me his “two rivers theory” about family. And I’d asked him what that was and he said, “Well, you know your family.... if you have to cross two rivers to get to any of your family, you’re close enough to visit but too far to meddle.”

Interviewers: Oh, ok... (laughter)

Blanchard: He was just full of wisdom like that. I’ve had some forester friends... uh... one of them sort of a mentor, in Eddie Jackson. One of them I mentioned, Eddie... had a good friend in college and he and his good friend decided they would go different careers paths. And Eddie came to the east part of North Carolina when he graduated and uh... his friend went to the west. And, his friend went to the U.S. Forest Service and did the government service the whole time and Eddie stayed in the private sector. And, they’d agreed they’d meet up in forty years and decide who did the best.

Jones: Oh, that’s so neat...

Blanchard: And, uh...

Jones: Did they stay in contact throughout the years?

Blanchard: Yeah. Yeah... great friends and uh... they were on the Boards of the State and uh... and in the forestry profession together, so they saw each other. They always told... Eddie acquired several thousand acres of land and just built up his little estate. So, they met after forty year. And Walt Smith, who retired and was living on a mountain, out from Brevard, and Eddie was here in the east, and was still working clients and uh... So they were trying to decide who did better. And, Eddie finally surrendered and told Walt... said he guessed he did, because he was living a life of leisure and drawing all these government pensions and everything and Eddie was down here paying his way. So...

Interviewers: (laughter).

Jones: Do you think he was able to retire sooner because of either the region he worked in or the fact that he went with the Federal Government as opposed to going on your own out here in southeastern North Carolina? Do you think its more prosperous to do the timber industry, in the west?

Blanchard: Uh... its probably a government versus a private initiative thing. Walt, of course, earned a pension...

Jones: Right.

Blanchard: ... that he was qualified to get and receive at an age of retirement. And Eddie, you know, you have clients all your life...

Jones: Sure...

Blanchard: ...so he had no reason to quit.

Jones: Work was still coming... so... and he was able...

Blanchard: Yeah.

Jones: ... so he kept going.

Blanchard: Yeah. I just want... Eddie was the one who taught me. Foresters are kind of introspective people, I guess, we like hands on, we like to draw maps (inaudible) and mark trees and do things that we have our self into.

" Right.

"

"Blanchard: But that limits you.

"

"Jones: Right.

"

"Blanchard: If you’re going to do that, you can only do what you can do.

"

"Jones: Specialize in that...

"

"Blanchard: Eddie had told me one time, after he had hired me, to do something for him that he didn’t want to do... He says, “Well you know its not what you can do, its what you can get done.”

"

"Jones: Right.

"

"Blanchard: Lot of wisdom in that...

"

"Jones: Very much so.

"

"Blanchard: Don’t know... I believe the “getting done” is harder than “the doing”.

"

"Jones: (laughs) That’s right... that’s right. My husband, Tim Jones, he’s in Surveying so he deals a lot with outdoors and trees and you’re right about that... he... whenever he’s explaining something.... “Oh, well let me draw it for you.”. You know he wants to sketch it out for you and it really does make a lot of sense and he is by no means a Draftsman or anything like that but he can simplify a complex situation by drawing it out like that. I’m sure its a certain characteristic that goes with forestry, too. People can hone in and see it, you know, the small picture and make it be understandable. From the time that you’ve started until now, what kind of changes have you seen go on in the industry, or even from your father’s beginnings, ‘til now? What kind of drastic changes or subtle changes have occurred in the industry?

"

"Blanchard: I think from early on, the call of the Forestry profession was one of answering the natural resource need. Basically through the 1920’s, the East Coast was pretty well cut-over, the timber was gone. There was a great deal of erosion and repeated fires. Forestry got involved in trying rebuild the forest and stop erosion. And uh, when the profession grew up then we sort of grew up with a “forest production” standpoint where you improve the land and improve the forest and make it more productive and more profitable. Uh... and so Foresters, you know, had this good sense for what they were doing as being something worthwhile. The change that we’ve seen is basically from the attacks of other people who don’t view it that way. And, its made it a little more... a lot more contentious. A lot of the things that we came up with... the pride is under attack. You know, there’s people out there that don’t want to see a tree cut who are only into “lock it up, people are bad, don’t let them into the woods” mentality and its been a little bit hard for everybody of my age to kinda’ deal with that...

"

"Jones: Right. So, would you see your self... uh... almost as a farmer and that’s your crop, then? Something to that effect? Where you manage the soil and the land so that it stays productive and is environmentally...

"

"Blanchard: That’s certainly the simplest definition “forestry”... although you only get one crop...

"

"Jones: Is that right?

"

"Blanchard: ... in a lifetime.

"

"Jones: Is that right... so, in a lifetime? What do the timber industries do when they clear and replant, clear and replant. Do they have certain type of trees that grow faster and trees that are meant for different reasons and that’s why...

"

"Blanchard: That’s moving more into short-rotation cropping and intensively-managed forestry. It is very production-oriented and they uh... when I went to school probably the newest things was genetics and trees. And, of course, they’ve been trying to breed and cross-breed crops for centuries. But they started genetics in trees as a way to improve the crop and that’s probably in about its uh... maybe just now coming into its third generation of improved trees to plant.

"

"Jones: Disease resistant?

"

"Blanchard: Disease-resistant, straightness, limb size...

"

"Jones: Growth?

"

"Blanchard: Rapid growth. So its moved a long ways and with it, the intensity of practices. There’s a lot more footprint on the ground in intensive forestry than there is in “once a generation” cropping.

"

"Jones: Right. Do you feel like the integrity of the profession has stayed the same throughout? Or, do you feel like you were mentioning... how people were viewing... maybe the timber industry as a bad thing? Do you think that has contributed to some people not having the respect for the industry and looking for the fast money turnaround sort of thing... Do you see that as a problem with the industry at all?

"

"Blanchard: Its been the same from the beginning of the country, to cut out and move on part in industry. The industry has a goal to make a profit and that’s a good goal...

"

"Jones: That’s right.

"

"Blanchard: Although our industry, when confronted, they develop social responsibility. And, I think, Foresters, professionals that are caught up in you have to do where your paycheck writers says you’re going to do...

"

"Jones: Right. Like anything...

"

"Blanchard: But still offers that opportunity to provide opinion and your own “soft hand” on the land...

"

"Jones: There you go....

"

"Blanchard: ... to do that.

"

"Jones: That’s right. That’s right. So what type of person do you think it takes to be a Forester? What type of life... would you categorize there’s a certain type of lifestyle you would lead, if you were a forester... if there’s a certain type of character you would have to have... to be a Forester?

"

"Blanchard: Um... I do think that most foresters who do choose it are somewhat introspective in that... uh, they’ve chosen something to do that’s closer to the land...

"

"Jones: Like to work outside?

"

"Blanchard: Yeah, a lot of people are drawn to it because they like to hunt and fish. And uh, I quit working for the paper company so I’d have time to hunt and fish, and have hardly ever been since (laughs).

"

"Interviewers: (laughter)

"

"Blanchard: So... having yourself as a boss is a terrible thing to do.

"

"Jones: Right. Yeah, well that’s true. Do you think that its a prosperous business?

"

"Blanchard: Its uh... it runs by cycles. Its always been... There are good times and there are entrenchment times. And, I guess that’s in business, any business, as well.

"

"Jones: Right...

"

"Blanchard: People who know and understand trees and how to make a profit with that have managed to live without much want. I don’t know any great... well, people have piled-up great fortunes. They’ve been gotten in the manufacturing side. Again, where you could have many people...

" " "

"Jones: Sure...

"

"Blanchard: ... doing to make it happen, then just depending on yourself.

"

"Warren: What are some of the things that determine those cycles?

"

"Jones: Right. I was just going to ask that very question.

"

"Blanchard: Probably running with the economic cycles as well as the periods of expansion in the industry when you build new plants or you expand capacity in the industry... When they get the manufacturing then there’s always a lot more product out which causes the price to go down and kind of a weak market. And you have to really build-up scarcity and demand again before the price will go up and reflect that. And when the price gets up where its a good investment then the industry expands and adds again. We’re probably now in an industry contraction, in spite of all the mergers I think... well, I don’t know... that’s just the MBA’s are in control of the companies and they want to see the bottom line within five years and most timber industries have a longer time span than that.

"

"Jones: That’s true. So, could you give me... what would be your typical day? If I was to come spend the day with Mr. Blanchard what would we do that day, what is a typical routine and a typical couple days for a Forester or for yourself?

"

"Blanchard: I guess my typical career day starts normally... I don’t get out earlier, anymore. I used to. I found out that’s largely a myth.

" "" Right. (laughter)

""

""Blanchard: You go to meet farmers that get out at six in the morning. Some do.

""

""Jones: Some do...

""

""Blanchard: ... and you get there at six and somehow or another wind up waiting around ‘til eight for them.

""

""Interviewers: (laughter)

""

""Blanchard: (inaudible) Go with my time (?) ... usually work late... its light, later. And I’ve always... mid-career... a lot time at night on the phone because obviously if you’re in the woods all day you can’t do contacts, you can’t report on what you’re doing. You can’t... a great deal... even when I was with the paper company, it was hours every night on the telephone. They’re long days, long weeks...

""

""Jones: Sure. Is that scouting for work on the phones...

""

""Blanchard: Yeah... yeah.

""

""Jones: ...that type of phone work?

""

""Blanchard: Yeah. Keeping in touch with clients or filing reports on what you done or in the case of the industrial work uh... lining-up the next day. Or, if you’ve got people that you’re trying to manage you’ve got to communicate. That’s when you keep trying to be found (?)

""

""Jones: That’s right... So you would probably start around eight or nine... and immediately get on the phone and...

""

""Blanchard: Try not to call anybody after ten.

""

""Jones: ... not ‘til ten, there you go. Good deal. Well, let’s see, I’m sure there’s a lot of hazards with the job, physical hazards, dangerous aspects of the work. Have you ever experienced any injury or know of someone, that you’d care to share that about?

""

""Blanchard: Yeah, now its seems like the ticks are a greater hazard than they used to be but there are always hazards.

""

""Jones: Yeah, right. Well that’s a good point. Do you take the Lymes vaccine for that?

""

""Blanchard: No... no.

""

""Jones: Tim doesn’t either. He’s out there and gets ticks over him...

""

""Blanchard: Probably should have. I may have Lyme’s Disease. (laughs) You don’t know. You don’t know. There’s always snakes.

""

""Jones: Always.

""

""Blanchard: There’s always travel to and from the job. Uh... Logging is probably the most dangerous thing... between gravity and the weight of things and the energy that’s bound up in things.

""

""Jones: I mean, I see them out there and I wonder how the whole thing doesn’t just topple over!

""

""Blanchard: Well, its helped a whole lot when you put people in steel machines, from what it used to be. But, I had a man working for me, when I was doing logging, who sawed his chin in half with a chain saw.

""

""Jones: Ooo... Gosh...

""

""Blanchard: To cut up trees on the ground you use a bow saw instead of a blade.

""

""Jones: What does that look like?

""

""Blanchard: Its a regular chain-saw but its got a bow that comes out and around and the chain runs around the bow.

""

""Jones: Like a loop.

""

""Blanchard: Yeah. Yeah. Instead of a blade.

""

""Jones: Right.

""

""Blanchard: So you saw on the ground... and he had his hand on top of the bar and his trigger handle let it slip out of his trigger hand while he had it up to speed so it just rotated in his hand and sawed his chin in half.

""

""Interviewers: ( both groan).

""

""Jones: He’s lucky it didn’t saw up farther, up the scalp and what not.

""

""Blanchard: Yeah, yeah. They pulled the teeth that he had left and wired his jaw back together and did a little... that was a State Workman’s Compensation Claim.

""

""Jones: Did he stay with forestry after that?

""

""Blanchard: I don’t know. I don’t know what happened to him. He got paid a “disfigurement fee” but wound up looking better than he did beforehand.

"" """Warren: But, he had a split personality.

"""

""" """

"""Jones: There you go.

"""

"""Blanchard: I’ve had one man die in the woods. Heart attack. Had one man die in my office. Lot of stress in logging...

"""

"""Jones: Why is that?

"""

"""Blanchard: There’s a lot of financial payments...

"""

"""Jones: I see.

"""

"""Blanchard: ... you got to worry about and you got weather and breakdowns... And, the fellow had come into my office and this was the third or fourth go around with this particular machine and he was trying to make payments. I was on the phone to the equipment company who had just repaired it and it tore up again, at $700 or $800 a pop. And, he was sitting over on a bench in my office and talking to a fellow who works with me and I heard him tell him, “You know, I just don’t know how much of this I can stand”. And then I got busy on the phone. We heard him snoring and he was gone!

"""

"""Jones: (gasps) Just like ...

"""

"""Blanchard: Just like that.

"""

"""Jones: What was his name?

"""

"""Blanchard: Prince Lee.

"""

"""Warren: He died in your Office?

""" """ """

"""Jones: He just nodded out and that was it?

"""

"""Blanchard: Yeah.

"""

"""Warren: There was a man that died out in the field, that you knew. So you personally have known two people that have died, more or less, in action?

"""

"""Blanchard: Yeah. Yeah.

"""

"""Warren: The man out in the field, tell us about that?

"""

"""Blanchard: I think that was just a heart attack. No tree on him, no damage to him or anybody. It was just hot.

"""

"""Jones: Health reasons?

"""

"""Blanchard: Yeah.

"""

"""Jones: Personal health reasons. You yourself have never been injured?

"""

"""Blanchard: So... I’ve had a stump hole bite me one time down in South Carolina. You know, as they age they rot-out and they’ll leave a 2 ½ or 3 foot hole in the ground, sometimes deeper, and then fill up with pine straw. So you don’t really seem ‘em until you take a step and all of the sudden your foot drops out from under you...

"""

"""Jones: Traps. Right...

"""

"""Blanchard: Did a little back damage. Had a couple bouts with that. You always have that.

"""

"""Jones: No snake bites?

"""

"""Blanchard: No. No, I’ve stepped right on them. Was advised early on, if you can’t see your feet don’t worry about the snakes. And, I think that if there’s that much brush, maybe you’re not much threat to a snake. So maybe it works both ways.

"""

"""Jones: That’s right.

"""

"""Blanchard: But, uh.. we’ve... they’ve been around. I had a fellow got snake bit... a rattlesnake bit. He got treated and wandered off and didn’t sleep too well for a while.

"""

"""Interviewers: (laughter).

""" """ """

"""Jones: It’s painful regardless of treatment or not. Yeah, its a painful experience, from what I understand. Well, what other kind of wildlife have you seen up there, speaking of which?

"""

"""Blanchard: Oh...

"""

"""Jones: You ever seen any cougars?

"""

"""Blanchard: Well...

"""

"""Jones: I’ve heard...

"""

"""Blanchard: Suspected...

"""

"""Jones: there’s some around Lake Waccamaw...

"""

"""Blanchard: Suspected. Suspected up on Hoffman Forest.

"""

"""Jones: Uh... hmm.

"""

"""Blanchard: ...we’ve seen a long-tailed dark-colored cat several times but, you know, nobody believes us.

"""

"""Jones: Right... right.

"""

"""Blanchard: But, we’ve seen the cat. And, we’ve got plenty of bear and now wild turkey.

"""

"""Jones: Ok.

"""

"""Blanchard: Probably first time I ever saw otters, in the wild, was on a slew running off the Cape Fear River, right on the other side of Elizabethtown.

"""

"""Jones: Ok.

"""

"""Blanchard: I was cruising timber and heard chirping, in the woods and up this slew, and splashing. And, I tip-toed over there and they were... they were just in Disneyland!

"""

"""Interviewers: (laughter).

"""

"""Blanchard: They had slicked down the mud bank and they were sliding and splashing in the water and running around... the two of them. Just running around sliding in the water...

""" """ """

"""Jones: Ooo...

"""

"""Blanchard: ...and I just sat down there and watched them for awhile.

"""

"""Jones: That’s probably a rewarding part of your job... to be outside and see those things as they occur, in nature.

"""

"""Blanchard: Unexpected. I do a lot... do most of the cruising by myself and tallying into a tape recorder. And, I can get through in the woods faster and go get my boots off and something cold to drink and then play the tape recorder back and record my tallying on paper. Old fashion, but uh...

""" """ """

"""Jones: It works.

"""

"""Blanchard: ... it works. The things you hear in the background, that’s on the tape, that you didn’t hear... This time of year... ten thousand blackbirds in swamps overhead and you hear all this noise and just didn’t notice... notice that.

"""

"""Jones: That is so neat. So that maybe even... I asked you about daily routine... that could be a typical routine for you when you go out... When you say you “cruise timber”, what do you mean by that, “cruising timber”?

"""

"""Blanchard: If we’ve got a boundary on some acreage of timber, rather than go out and measure and tally every tree to get an estimate of the volume, we do systematic samples through it. If... if by running a compass line and taking a measurement plot at regular intervals along the compass line then we offset and comeback offset and comeback...

"""

"""Jones: Do a grid?

"""

"""Blanchard: So we do a grid of samples. Figure up the trees and the volume of the grid through samples. If we’ve tally ten acres out of a hundred plots, we’ve got a ten percent “cruise”, mulitply that by ten and you’ve got an estimate of the total volumes on the track.

"""

"""Jones: Gosh, so uh... a great deal of geometry and math or you have to have at least some good understanding of that... to be into forestry?

"""

"""Blanchard: Trying to get within, you know, five or ten percent of the true volume and the more variable the timber is, the more plots you have to put out there. Obviously, if you could go find the one average plot (everyone laughs) that’d be the only one you’d have to take...

"""

"""Jones: That’s right.

"""

"""Blanchard: But you can’t do that...

"""

"""Warren: Will a hundred tract uh... plot have about the same amount of trees evenly spread over it or... I mean, you say you might take ten percent of that but uh... I’ve seen... walked out into the woods and come upon just a barren area...

"""

"""Blanchard: Yeah...

"""

"""Warren: ... sometimes, you know...

"""

"""Blanchard: Yeah, you may... you can map these areas out and segregate the plots that fall in those areas. So, if you’ve got a heavy timbered area and a bare area ,or maybe an area next to a swamp where there’s hardwoods, the more finer detail that you do the map and the more segregation that you do of your plots into like areas and of course, the greater accuracy is... Or, you can just say that if I have two plots in a bare area that’s a representation of two acres of bare area and you just let your plots map it out for you. Uh, I’ve done both, depending on the level of accuracy and the purpose of why you’re cruising.

"""

"""Warren: And you distinguish between the types of trees, too?

"""

"""Blanchard: Yeah, we tally trees by species, product, diameter and height.

"""

"""Jones: What species are most profitable in this area, right now?

"""

"""Blanchard: Uh, the pines have been basically three times more valuable than hardwoods, throughout the South and that’s what... that’s one of the things that’s led to so much pine forestry that you see. I’ve often wondered if somehow or another pines and hardwoods had had equal value in the marketplace, how would that have changed the base of forest management.

"""

"""Jones: That’s right.

"""

"""Blanchard: Environmentalists complain about so much pine plantings... plantations being put back. But, most of the South was nothing but pine trees. The fires kept hardwoods out except in the bottom lands and in places too wet to burn.

"""

"""Jones: Is that right...

"""

"""Blanchard: ...before roads and people and Forest Service. All us put fires out. If fires got started by lightning or let loose by the Indians or whatever and they just burned for thousands of acres until they ran into a river or creek or weather pattern that put them out.

"""

"""Jones: Sure... yeah.

"""

"""Blanchard: So there really weren’t hardwoods. There are more hardwoods now probably than there ever was.

"""

"""Jones: So you think, historically, pine has been the higher cash crop even way back when your father first started?

"""

"""Blanchard: Uh... yes. There are select hardwoods. There’s furniture hardwoods and wall-paneling veneer hardwoods and those have always had more value but generally they’re a mountain, very slow grown, three-hundred-year-old tree type thing.

"""

"""Jones: Right, right. So where do you think forestry is going? Do you think its stayed pretty consistent. Do you feel like... do you think it will continue that way, do you see new career options coming up in the field of forestry?

"""

"""Blanchard: I think uh... I think forestry’s in a state of change, in terms of maybe its timber emphasis and that’s good. I think Foresters who would now become, through a little broader knowledge and interests, Natural Resource Managers rather than just Timber Managers. People have changed. People have more awareness of wildlife and other things and their purpose for owning their land...

"""

"""Jones: Ok...

"""

"""Blanchard: ...differs so that... and they want to feel good about what they do, environmentally good. So, you know, if you can provide them the income and that source that they want from the timberlands while saving or enhancing the wildlife and those things. I think that’s where we’re going. I think there’s a possibility that uh... forestry, as a profession, can loose out... uh... it is under attack from people who don’t like people who cut trees.

"""

"""Jones: Right.

"""

"""Blanchard: And they don’t like industries that utilize them. Trying to find some middle ground between reuse, recycling, uh... new use. And, I guess you need to have two extremes...

"""

"""Jones: That’s right. That’s right.

"""

"""Blanchard: ... to get to a middle part. I do believe that a lot of the environmental bent is just for power.

"""

"""Jones: Sure.

"""

"""Blanchard: There’s probably the wetlands part that came out of wetlands legislation in the Seventies was the biggest “land grab”, by definition, that’s ever been done because they took what was to be preservation of swamps, marshes, and bogs and redefined wetland as being “any place at which water is within a foot out of the ground five days out of the year...”

"""

"""Jones: ... out of the year. I agree with you. I’m finding that on my own property...

"""

"""Blanchard: And they got away with it ... and that really was a land grab.

"""

"""Jones: Yeah.

"""

"""Blanchard: They’ve managed, through politics, to basically set aside wilderness areas which we needed and foresters helped to identify and do that. Then through this last part basically they’ve taken all the lands held for production purposes by Law, of the U.S. Forest Service, and they’ve wiped-out their ability to manage timber. Clinton’s midnight sixty million acre “road-less area”... you know, offended governors and everybody but somehow or another by stroke of a pen he could say, you know, these are “road-less areas”. They went out and hired... still got people out there tearing-up roads. Now if it was road-less why are they tearing-up roads?

"""

"""Jones: That’s right... that’s right.

"""

"""Blanchard: I don’t... maybe that’s an extreme and the pendulum is going to swing.

"""

"""Jones: Right. Do you feel like because of those extremes that the forest industry is trying to come up with different methods to actually obtain the timber on property? I know sometimes you’ll go by an area that’s been cut and it can be stark, you know, it can be startling to someone saying, “My gosh, all of a sudden there were beautiful trees there and now there gone.” Do you feel like the forestry industry will continue to try to work on different methods, different equipment, different techniques to try to... you know, have as less impact as they possibly can when they do get out trees they need?

""" """ """

"""Blanchard: I think that is going on in the industry. I think that ... that part of what the industry has through these techniques (?) the more of the resource you move... like... when... when they took the West Coast basically and said they’re not going to cut any more West Coast trees, that focused all the demand of this country on the Southeast.

"""

"""Jones: Right... there you go.

""" """ """

"""Blanchard: ...and basically the lumber output and the output in the Southeast had to pick up the West Coast which was another forty percent . So, we did see increased harvesting. You know, its everywhere...

"""

"""Jones: Right.

"""

"""Blanchard: You lose land base to uh... urbanization and uh... expansion. So the more land you loose, the more intensively that industry manages lands to supply the wood that they need. And the more intensively they do that the shorter the rotation, the cropping thing... the more criticism...

"""

"""Jones: That’s right.

"""

"""Blanchard: ... they get.

""" """ """

"""Jones: So it kind of breeds into it... Yeah.

""" """ """

"""Blanchard: So uh... it’d be a whole lot better to have a light footprint over millions of acres then that heavy impact focused on ten percent of that.

"""

"""Jones: That’s right. So maybe in the future when you think of careers in forestry you can be thinking of... development of techniques as being a career in forestry out working with the foresters and trying to come together with the environmentalists on things like that or maybe also another career might be tree development like you were speaking about earlier genetics and things like that. Do you see the forestry industry going off in a lot of different directions as far as career opportunities go?

""" """ """

"""Blanchard: Uh... I think the “forest land ownership pattern” as a whole offers that widening of approach. Uh... I think that likely the “land owning/manufacturing” part of the industry is just forced to maximize what they need off of their land.

"""

"""Jones: Uh... hmm.

"""

"""Blanchard: If its a pulp mill and it owns land and its only interest is in feeding that pulp mill they’re going to grow trees while they’re young and vigorous and may start to slow down even though they’re still juveniles, in terms of the life of the tree. They’re going to cut them and start over...

"""

"""Jones: For pulp...

"""

"""Blanchard: So, I see that as a problem. Um... everybody’s got their opinion but I just... again would rather see longer rotation over a bigger area of the land and... less footprint.

"""

"""Jones: Right... smaller intensive. Well, so has... I’m sorry, go ahead.

"""

"""Blanchard: The danger in doing a number of things, the critical nature of ... in some cases, uninformed people, and in some cases, people who are informed but that’s the way they make a living like on environmental side, the danger is you wipe out the wood-using industry. And, what I see the wood-using industry does and has always done is provide an economic incentive for people to grow trees on their land. If you remove that incentive, which you can do by convincing everybody that its evil...

"""

"""Jones: Right.

"""

"""Blanchard: ... by regulating it to the point, as it is in California, where people can’t do it. Um... by any measure of things... that you can remove the profit incentive from it and people quit doing it. You harvest the trees, sell the topsoil, develop the land...

"""

"""Jones: Right.

"""

"""Blanchard: ... and move on. Abandon it. And that puts us back where we were in the Twenties.

"""

"""Jones: That’s right.

"""

"""Blanchard: Preservation forest depends on the good economic... depends on markets and that its profitable for an owner. Now if you take all the land and lock it up in the government then they don’t care. But as long as seventy percent of our forest land is owned by private individuals we need markets and we need... we just need... reason... for people to their maintain their land under tree cover (?).

"""

"""Jones: Right. So forestry has been good to you, do you think? Would you choose that again given the chance in life as a career?

"""

"""Blanchard: Uh... its always been a challenge. Its still a challenging. Maybe some of the self-satisfaction is a little tougher now that you do feel criticized for doing that.

""" """ """

"""Jones: That you have to justify...

"""

"""Blanchard: I’ve never been bored...

"""

"""Jones: Oh, there you go...

""" """ """

"""Blanchard: ... some days are routine and uncomfortable. But uh...

"""

"""Jones: Uncomfortable because uh... struggling?

"""

"""Blanchard: Hot... sweat... snakes... briars... ticks... (laughter from everyone)... mosquitoes... all of those...

"""

"""Jones: Yeah.... (laughs)... ninety percent humidity.

"""

"""Blanchard: ... all of those things. You know, the closer you are to the land the less money you make.

"""

"""Jones: Why is that?

"""

"""Blanchard: I don’t know... that’s just the way you look at it. So I don’t know, if I had had a greater desire... I guess... to accumulate money, I probably should have chosen something else.

"""

"""Jones: Right.

"""

"""Blanchard: Always wanted to run a saw mill.

"""

"""Jones: Oh really?

"""

"""Blanchard: Smells good, sounds good, produces things (laughter)... Uh, might do that before I quit.

"""

"""Jones: That’s right. It’s not over until its over.

"""

"""Blanchard: Always liked to export something to Europe, have an excuse to run back and forth to Europe, wouldn’t that be fun? (laughter) Anyway...

"""

"""Jones: I’ll go with you. (laughs) Sounds good. Ok, so if you had to pick on one important issue facing forestry today, we’ve talked about several already, um... does something specifically come to mind? When you think of forestry you think of one thing that might be an issue facing the industry thing... what would come to your mind?

"""

"""Blanchard: Uh... it... probably the most critical thing is public perception of what...

"""

"""Jones: Right.

"""

"""Blanchard: ... we do. Being self-satisfied in a career you never had a reason to spend money to inform the people who live in New York City and... or other cities... and now nine cities in the country can determine who the President is... So, those people have the political power and when they get something in the mail that says the last tree in Alaska is being harvested they believe it...

"""

"""Jones: Right.

""" """ """

"""Blanchard: ...and uh... sending money in. And, those people who are making money by opening the envelopes are real happy.

"""

"""Jones: That’s right. And then they hear about Butch Blandchard out cutting down trees and you’re one of those then, I guess. So, it’s hard to differentiate.

"""

"""Blanchard: I have planted over a million trees in one year. Will plant over eight-hundred thousand this year. We usually plant six for every tree we cut. And, that’s South-wide, industry-wide. We’ve got more land and forest, in the South, probably than we’ve ever had in that we’ve removed so much agriculture land and put it in trees. So I think the state of trees, our forests, is doing very well. It’s not a rain forest, and every forest can’t be a rain forest...

"""

"""Jones: Right.

""" """ """

"""Blanchard: And that’s the paradigm that’s being floated...

"""

"""Jones: Right. Well, wonderful. Anything to add?

"""

"""Warren: Uh, you made a reference a second ago... to the... 1920’s, “That’s the way they were doing it... we’d be like they were doing it in the 1920’s.” Do you remember that reference?

"""

"""Blanchard: Uh... yeah.

"""

"""Warren: What were you referring to? The way they we’d be doing it like the 1920’s...

"""

"""Blanchard: Well, the industry moved. You could put... where you had high volumes of timber, you had quite concentrated large expanses of timber and as we had in North Carolina you could have many communities that were “saw mill communities” that stayed and saw for uh... five, en, twenty years. And, basically, it was to cut whatever that industry could use.

"""

"""Warren: Like in Boardman, down the road?

"""

"""Blanchard: Like Boardman. Like Bolton. We had many... when my Dad came here in the Forties there were oh, twelve to fifteen portable saw mills, working in the County and they just packed them up and moved them from woods to woods. Sawed the lumber on the spot and trucked the lumber out. And, sold them to larger mills who would then dry them and fling (?) them and finish them. Uh... so, what had happened is... like in Maine, they basically cut out the State of Maine and the industry there folded-up and moved toward Michigan, moved West. Industries in the South, moved West. And we’ve kind of seen the western industries, the Weyerhausers, and the Boise-Cascades, those industries came back East as their supply out West kind...either got locked-up or the old growth got cut over. And in the meantime, we grown a forest. Now there’s a forest grown-back in Maine and New York and Michigan and the industry is looking at those areas.

"""

"""Warren: So the concept of “managed forest” really wasn’t around in the Twenties when you had plenty of forest around and now it’s got to be around or you wouldn’t... to continue the productivity or either we would just use it all up.

"""

"""Blanchard: I think the Europeans probably had that concept, the earliest researchers, the PhD.s that came over to this country in the 1900’s were European-educated. And really, the 1900’s started “Forestry Education”, in this country.

"""

"""Warren: Like at Biltmore.

"""

"""Blanchard: Like at Biltmore, in North Carolina. It was at Yale, one of the first forestry schools. So the original concept was this “cut-over stump orchard” that was left after these industries cut and moved-out. What do we do with it, how do we stop erosion? You know, piled bush in the gullies, and any... planted trees... CCC in the Thirties planted trees, so that the fellows could make a little money during the Depression to send home. Now, you’re penalized if you leave a limb in the gully. (laughter)

"""

"""Jones: Right...

"""

"""Blanchard: ... because you’re trying to protect the gully...

"""

"""Jones: Oh yeah...

"""

"""Blanchard: (laughs) ...the times change.

"""

"""Jones: The times have changed. Hey, what happened to Hallsboro? Was that not a thriving....

""" """ """

"""Blanchard: Yeah.

""" """ """

"""Jones: ...what happened? Do you know any history on that? I’ve been curious about it.

"""

"""Blanchard: Uh... there... there was a shingle mill there that made cypress shingles and I don’t know a whole lot about that mill.

""" """ """

"""Jones: Right...

"""

"""Blanchard: Uh... Ritter Lumber Company and the predecessor to that may have been called the Whiteville Lumber Company. I’ve forgotten... they were on the southwest corner and there were two sawmills on the northwest corner, across the road, running north out of Hallsbor, from Pearson (sp?) Company. There were two sawmills in there. And, I don’t know where that shingle factory was. John Wessell (sp?), who works with me, worked there as a boy.

"""

"""Jones: Is that right?

"""

"""Blanchard: And, I need to quiz him some more.

"""

"""Jones: We do. We need to quiz him.

"""

"""Warren: Is he on our List?

"""

"""Blanchard: I don’t believe he is.

"""

"""Warren: We need to jot him down. Anybody else?

"""

"""Jones: That’s right. Do you know of anyone else you’d like to... ? John Wessell.

"""

"""Blanchard: I talked to Harry earlier about some folks that are a little removed from this region but uh... thought maybe it’d be good if we could find somebody who spent their career at the mill in Riegelwood. Maybe start it on when they built the mill and spent their career and retired. They would have seen a lot of changes.

"""

"""Jones: Sure they would. Right.

"""

"""Warren: Butch, you’ve got a degree in Forestry, from NC State.

""" """ """

"""Blanchard: Right.

"""

"""Warren: When did you graduate?

"""

"""Blanchard: 1963.

"""

"""Warren: What tools have... had you... I mean, we got an old chain downstairs. Did you ever use a chain?

"""

"""Blanchard: No. No... We had a steel tape.

"""

"""Warren: ...a steel tape. Have there been a change in the basic tools... that you use?

"""

"""Blanchard: The hottest thing out right now is “GPS” systems and data recorders. You can get a hand-held unit with a little antennae on it and you can triangulate through the GPS, where you are at any plot or any time, instead of me talking into the tape recorder. We used to tally on paper. And the tape recorder was just something that speeded it up but you can input those trees that you want to tally and go to your Office and plug the data recorder in your computer up and download...

"""

"""Warren: What did you call that “GP... ?”

""" """ """

"""Blanchard: GPS, Global Positioning Systems. Satellite system.

"""

"""Jones: GPS. They use that quite a bit in surveying. Tim does that all the time. He triangulates and does GPS and all that... so...

"""

"""Blanchard: ...yeah, we’re using...

"""

"""Jones: ... you can locate anything with that, really.

"""

"""Blanchard: We’re using... uh, it’s not exactly surveyor-grade, up in Jacksonville now... that. we’ve got $695 in the little GPS unit.

"""

"""Jones: Sure.

""" """ """

"""Blanchard: And another $400 in a Differential Correction. So instead of having to phone Raleigh or get the information, our two antennas in two units correct everything. We can take... on five satellites, we can take about a two-minute point and be within a radius of six feet.

"""

"""Warren: So its much more accurate than the old method of uh... or, is it?

"""

"""Blanchard: I don’t know. I don’t know.

"""

"""Warren: It’s more expensive, that’s for sure...

"""

"""Blanchard: Early on, we used a steel tape to lay out distance, to learn to pace to... And, I paced all my life and I can probably pace a mile through the woods within thirty or forty feet.

"""

"""Warren: So that’s... that...

""" """ """

"""Blanchard: ...and that’s been a skill of mine (inaudible)

"""

"""Jones: Right.

"""

"""Warren: But, the new forester, the twenty-one year old getting into forestry today will never learn pacing, probably...

"""

"""Blanchard: No. No.

"""

"""Warren: ...would you say that?

""" """ """

"""Blanchard: Most of them have “hip chains”. They’ve got a box on their belt with a piece of string and a big reel in there and they’ll tie the string to some bush when they start and they just let the string feed out behind them and its got a dial on it, a measure on it. And, a lot of the timber procurement people will walk the boundary of the tract and they’ll measure every side with their string box and they’ll use it on their cruise lines. And uh... the GPS thing is new. They were just three years ago $10,000 and probably three years before that $30,000. And, you had your problem with the military. The military had... had deliberately obscured the accuracy of the GPS and... it... uh... you could not get a true location, probably within uh... without correction, within 150 feet to 200 feet. And, the idea was civil defense.

"""

"""Jones: That’s exactly right.

"""

"""Blanchard: But if you’re going to throw an atomic bomb at Fort Bragg, I don’t know what difference (laughter) it makes (inaudible)... They’ve turned that off now...

""" """ """

"""Jones: Right. You’re right.

"""

"""Blanchard: ...so we got the accuracy available but you still...

"""

"""Warren: ...you mean you don’t have to... you still have to...

""" """ """

"""Blanchard: You still have a correction... that you need to make.

"""

"""Warren: But, in the old days you didn’t. I mean, you didn’t have all that. You had your tape, you knew how to pace.

"""

"""Blanchard: The neat thing was you’d use a hand compass, for your compass bearings, and you had old deeds or maps that had whatever bearing that they wrote down at the time and uh... the North Pole wanders around. Magnetic North Pole.

"""

"""Jones: Magnetic... that’s right.

"""

"""Blanchard: So we had a correction of... depending on where you were, three to eight degrees. That you had to make and then surveyors invented something called the “North Carolina Quadrangle System” and...

""" """ """

"""Jones: Oh yeah...

"""

"""Blanchard: And they adjusted it to “Never... Neverland”. And sometimes the three degrees was here and eight degrees was here and they might add together. What we learn to do with, a hand compass, is try to find real mark on the ground and whatever our magnetic compass said that was... then we adjusted everything else off of that.

"""

"""Warren: A real mark on the ground?

"""

"""Blanchard: Well, if it was a marked line on a farm, it was a ditch line... it was a boundary line that we knew was the old survey line...

"""

"""Jones: You’re probably...

""" """ """

"""Blanchard: ...it may be fourteen degrees difference from what we read in the hand compass but we just... if we’re trying to fit it to that deed...

""" """ """

"""Jones: ... to the deed...

""" """ """

"""Blanchard: ....we just adjust all the rest of it by fourteen degrees and it...

"""

"""Jones: So you’re probably familiar with “marked trees” then?

"""

"""Blanchard: Yeah.

"""

"""Jones: ...and do you know how they marked certain ways to indicate certain things?

"""

"""Blanchard: Yeah.

"""

"""Jones: You’ll find a lot of old marked trees now. I don’t think they do that so much in surveying. There is a gentleman, Lennox (?) Smith, who still knows how to mark trees, that Tim worked with...

"""

"""Warren: What’s involved in marking trees? So you find a tree you figure will be there awhile...

"""

"""Blanchard: I don’t know if they ever recorded it anywhere but its probably a set of protocols because a survey line through the woods is a straight line and as soon as the surveyors have passed by it becomes an imaginary line unless there’s some kind of witness to that...

""" """ """

"""Jones: ...that’s right, the “witness tree”...

"""

"""Blanchard: ...and the early... they did... any tree that you’d pass within arm’s reach or three feet either side of the line, you’d put two hacks in the side of the tree facing where the line ought to be. So if you had two hacks in the tree on this side and two hacks in the tree on this side you knew that the survey line was between the two trees. And when you got to the corner, they usually blazed the tree and then at an appropriate height and distance from the ground, they put three hacks in the direction in which the corner was. So that if you had three witness trees, that would triangulate on that corner... You may not find the corner now but at least you got... you know that it was within that area and you know... you might dig for it or you might use a metal detector to find it. Lot of times it was just a light wood knot. I knew a surveyor that kept a trunk full of light wood knots and he always found his corners... (laughs) ...whether they were right or not."""

"""" ""

""Warren: (laughs) You actually knew a fellow that kept his own “knotwood” that he would put in the ground if there wasn’t one in the ground?

""

""Blanchard: Uh... hmm.

""

""Warren: Was that ethical?

""

""Blanchard: He may have been right... (laughter) I won’t judge him. But he didn’t find the corner, from the standpoint of providing something he didn’t find. You know, out West where they didn’t have trees, they buried broken glass, sometimes... Surveying, is a whole ‘nother...

""

""Jones: That’s a whole ‘nother session, isn’t it?

""

""Warren: You referred, a couple of times, to Jacksonville. You’re talking about the “Hoffman Forest”. I don’t know if we’ve actually addressed that. Can you briefly tell us what the Hoffman Forest is all about?

""

""Blanchard: No. (laughter) It’s a long story! First Dean of newly formed College of Forestry or School of Forestry at NC State had no land in which to train young men in forestry on. You know the College provided a classroom and no where (inaudible) to acquire land. Talking about the Depression... and he formed the North Carolina Forestry Foundation as a vehicle to acquire lands which through good management and proper utilization they could buy... and self-liquidating basis. And the Hoffman Forest was one of the properties of about eighty thousand acres, that nobody else wanted, that he acquired. And I contract the management now for NC State on that property.

""

""Warren: Its eighty thousand acres? And, you plant trees on it? Manage it and all. You said you plant between eight hundred... and a million... eight hundred thousand and a million trees. And you told me one time, you can plant ten thousand... you told that once... how many trees you can plant in a day?

""

""Blanchard: Well, the “tree planters” will plant... between two and three thousand...

""

""Warren: ...a day?

""

""Blanchard: A day.

""

""Warren: Uh huh. Has that changed since you were tree planting trees?

""

""Blanchard: No... no.

""

""Warren: It’s still done pretty much the same back-breaking kind of way?

"" "" ""

""Blanchard: By hand... by hand. The Mexican labor, by-in-large, plants all the trees in the South.

""

""Warren: Which is a change from... as far as the labor force.

""

""Blanchard: Yeah. Yeah. They’re more efficient than any kind of tree-planting machine that we can devise. And its a wonderful... I hope they’re proud of it.

""

""Warren: Uh... hmm.

"" "" ""

""Blanchard: It’s hard work. I planted a thousand one day... myself... and it took me several days to get over it. (laughter) It’s hard, you know, you’re bending down twice for every tree and you’d say bending down a thousand times a day is not that hard... It is!

""

""Warren: Oh yeah...

""

""Blanchard: Just go pick up pecans... pecans or pine cones in your yard.

""

""Jones: That’s right. That’s right... strawberries or anything... it’s hard.

""

""Warren: Now one more quick question. You know the old naval stores industry, getting the resin out of the trees... when you’re walking around the woods do you still today, in 2002, find uh... “collection pits”, occasionally, out in the woods, remnants of tar pools or boxed (?) face trees that are still in existence, from back in those days?

""

""Blanchard: It’s rare, but yes, I find tar... old kiln beds and boxed-face trees... are pretty rare now but they’re still around.

""

""Warren: Uh... hmm. All right... well, Patricia do you have any more questions?

"" "" ""

""Jones: I can’t think of any, I just appreciate it... I’ve learned a great deal and feel like I’ve gotten to know you from a different side besides the “Board President” of the Forestry Museum... the real Butch Blanchard now...

""

""Warren: The next oral history will be about the formation of the Forestry Museum and I don’t know, did you write this (?) ... does the form say who conducted the interview?

""

""Jones: Yes. Well...

""

""Warren: Right. And this is a combined Interview with Patricia Jones, lead Interviewer and Harry Warren, backup Interviewer... for the first Interview for the “Oral History Project”, here on the 28th... 29th...

""

""Jones: 29th.

"" "" ""

""Warren: ...of January, 2002. Thank you, Harold C. Blanchard!

""

""Blanchard: You’re welcome. (laughter)""

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