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James R. Grace

Ph.D. Forest Resources, 1978

James R. Grace earned a Ph.D. in Forest Resources at Penn State in 1978, under the guidance of Dr. Russell Hutnik, with a focus on forest ecology. His previous academic training included a bachelor of science in forest management at the University of Vermont in 1970, and a master of forest science at Yale University in 1972.

While completing his doctoral degree requirements, he began working as an adjunct professor at Rutgers University, Cook College. Grace was an exemplary teacher; he received the “Professor of the Year” award at Cook College in 1978. In 1980 he became an assistant extension specialist in forestry at Cook College and soon was well known in the northeastern region for his innovative extension programs.

In 1983, Grace accepted an appointment as an assistant professor and extension forester with Penn State’s School of Forest Resources. Here he developed the Forest Resources publication series, began the Forest Resources newsletter, led research on issues relating to private forest management, and served as chair of the “Year of the Forest” in 1986.

The “Year of the Forest” was a yearlong event that coincided with the 100th anniversary of the Pennsylvania Forestry Association and celebrated the Commonwealth’s forests and all the values they provide. The Pennsylvania Forestry Association honored Grace with the Rothrock Award for Conservation that year for his leadership in that event.

In 1987, Grace accepted a position as deputy secretary in the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources where he administered the bureaus of forestry, state parks, and geological survey. He continued in that role until 1991 when he moved into his current position as state forester of the Bureau of Forestry. Under his leadership, the bureau has completed two state forest management plans that include area-controlled harvesting schedules, ecosystem management, continuous forest inventory, and the use of GIS technology.

Grace was central to our state forests becoming the nation’s first certified public forest in 1995. Other states have observed the advantages of certification and have followed Pennsylvania’s lead. Grace helped initiate the Ecosystem Management Advisory Committee, providing the opportunity for various stakeholders to consider and debate ecosystem management on state forests.

Grace has been active in the National Association of State Foresters, serving as president and on numerous committees. He serves on the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® State Implementation Committee, and is also chair of the board of directors of the Pinchot Institute for Conservation. Grace is a leader in the forestry profession and has brought further recognition to Pennsylvania’s forests.

April 2004