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James C. Nelson

B.S. Forestry, 1952

James C. Nelson earned a B.S. in Forestry at Penn State in 1952 and then embarked upon a 41-year-long career with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, interrupted by one year of service (1954-1955) in the U.S. Army.

He began his employment with the bureau as a research forester and in 1960 was promoted to forest management specialist. There he worked under the guidance of M.K. Goddard and Joseph E. Ibberson in revising and expanding state forest management plans. He was instrumental in developing a new inventory system, computerizing the timber sales data, and furthering an even-aged management policy for state forest land. In 1965 he was promoted to forest resources planner and developed wildlife habitat guidelines and a comprehensive natural area and wildlife area program for state forests. He authored the “Forest Resource Plans for State Forest Land” in 1970. Nelson was promoted to assistant state forester in 1982 and to state forester in 1989. He was instrumental in establishing the Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory in the Bureau of Forestry and he promoted the Forest Stewardship Program aimed at developing a stewardship ethic.

Nelson has been a member of the Society of American Foresters since 1952 and has served as vice chair and chair of the five-state Allegheny Society SAF, as SAF Visiting Scientist to Clemson University, and as a speaker at five SAF national conventions. He was elected to National Council SAF in 1985, and he was elected Fellow in 1992.

Nelson’s other professional memberships include Xi Sigma Pi (forestry honor society) and Gamma Sigma Delta (agricultural honor society). One of his hobbies is collecting antique and historical logging equipment that he has very generously put on display at countless public events throughout the state; he has also prepared and presented a popular slide program on the history of Pennsylvania’s forests.

Nelson’s civic activities include being a volunteer in the Pennsylvania Forest Stewardship Program, a certified official in the National Wheelchair Athletic Association, past president of the East Berlin Historical Preservation Society, and past member of the board of directors of the Pinchot Institute of Conservation.

April 2004