Biltmore Forest An Account of its Treatment, and the Results of the
First Year's Work





The Lakeside Press


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The attempt to treat Biltmore Forest systematically derives a certain interest from the
fact that it is the first practical application of forest management in the United States. The
following pages contain a description of the Forest when work upon it was begun, and of
the operations carried out during the first year of management. The result of this first
year's work is stated both as regards the Forest itself and the returns and expenses in
money. The outline of the working plan is added, and a word is said as to the experi-
ments in forest planting and arboriculture which have been begun. Finally, the possible
value of the work is briefly noted.

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Biltmore Estate.

Biltmore Estate lies in the western part of North Carolina, on the right
and left banks of the French Broad River, along which it stretches for a dis-
tance of six miles. Through the northeast corner runs the Swannanoa River,
a smaller stream, just before its junction with the French Broad. The Estate is in lati-
tude 35° 33' North, longitude 82° 33' West. Its northern end, which is cut by the
Richmond & Danville Railroad, lies two miles south of the city of Asheville. Bilt-
more village, on the left bank of the Swannanoa, where the Spartanburg Railroad joins
the Western Carolina division of the Richmond & Danville, is included in the Estate.
Biltmore lies on the great continental table-land, the highest east of the Mississippi,
which stretches between the Blue Ridge and the Alleghany Mountains. It consists chiefly
of broken, hilly land, fairly well watered, alternating with the broad alluvial bottoms of

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the two rivers. The summits of the hills, which reach an average altitude of about 2,300
feet, mark the approximate height of the Asheville base-level, from which, through ero-
sion, the present outline of the surface was derived. The total area is 7,282 acres, or
rather more than eleven square miles.

Biltmore Forest.

A little more than one-half of the whole surface of the estate, or 3,891
acres, is woodland, and constitutes Biltmore Forest. It is composed in greater
part of Oaks and other deciduous trees, chiefly in the younger stages of their
growth, with Pines scattered among the broad leaved trees, and here and there pure
patches of them in the old fields. In addition to the broken and very irregular character
of the Forest, which results from its former sub-division among small farmers, it is inter-
rupted - from the same cause - by frequent clearings, many of which are on the tops and
shoulders of the hills, while the river bottoms are almost entirely under cultivation. The
changing slopes, the many kinds of trees, and the great variety in its density, size and
condition, are marked features of the Forest. It derives an additional interest from the
fact that it is the first piece of woodland in the United States to be subjected to a
regular system of management, the prime object of which is to pay the owner while im-
proving the forest.

The Soil.

The rock, from the weathering of which the larger part of the soil at Biltmore
has been produced, is a very ancient gneiss with a considerable intermixture
of pegmatitic quartz. The softness of the gneiss, which disintegrates easily to a

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considerable depth, accounts for the rounded contour of the slopes, while the ridges are
marked by the presence of the more resisting quartz. The soil which results from the
decomposition of these two rocks is a rather stiff sandy loam, not rich, and, in spite of its
depth, not very favorable to the growth of trees. In the river bottoms, where the soil
is sedimentary, it is in some places very rich; in others composed almost entirely
of quartz sand.

The Climate.

The meteorological records for Biltmore are available for the present purpose
only from January 1, 1891, to December 31, 1892. These observations
cover too little time to be of much use as a basis of description for the climate.
But records have been kept at Asheville since 1857, and the following summary is founded
upon the two series. The climate is an exceptionally temperate one. Great heat and
great cold are alike rare, and the daily range of temperature is comparatively small. The
moderate rainfall, which amounts annually to about 43 inches, is very evenly distributed
throughout the year. During the winter the relative humidity is occasionally high, but
this is generally not the case at other seasons. The observations at Biltmore for the two
years show a maximum temperature of 99° in July, and a minimum of 6° in December.
It should be said that during the last winter a minimum of -9° was reached in January.
The greatest daily range in temperature varied between 30.7°, in July, and 41.5°, in
March and October. The relative humidity, taken by monthly averages, was least in May
(54.91%), and greatest in January (76.01%). The following table gives further details:

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  Jan. Feb. Mar. Apl. May. June. July. Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec.
Mean monthly rainfall (in inches) 5.90 1.83 2.56 5.35 3.34 5.98 4.77 4.41 3.34 0.42 3.30 2.06
Mean relative humidity (per cent) 76.0 72.0 72.3 56.3 54.9 60.4 64.4 62.7 61.4 59.3 71.3 72.9
Maximum daily range (degs. F) 36.5 37.5 41.5 41.0 41.1 37.7 30.7 32.5 36.3 41.5 35.3 37.0
Minimum daily range (degs. F) 6.3 9.3 5.3 8.0 10.3 13.0 7.5 11.0 7.0 10.5 9.8 7.2
Maximum daily temp. (degs. F) 65.0 74.0 76.0 87.0 89.0 96.0 99.0 96.0 91.5 86.0 73.0 67.0
Minimum daily temp. (degs. F) 8.0 13.0 15.0 22.0 29.0 47.0 47.0 51.0 36.0 21.0 11.0 6.0
Mean monthly temp. (degs. F) 36.7 44.5 43.8 55.9 62.6 72.1 71.4 72.0 65.1 54.2 44.1 41.2

The above figures are based upon the readings of four different stations at Biltmore
equipped with self-registering minimum and maximum thermometers and Mason hygrome-
ters, the observations from all of which have been taken once daily. The rainfall has been
taken from the readings of but one gauge.

The Kinds of

It has already been said that Biltmore Forest is composed for the most part
of deciduous trees. Of these the White Oak is in all respects first. Second
to it numerically, but of inferior quality, are the Black, the Scarlet, and the
Spanish Oaks, in the order named. These are followed by the Short-leaf Pine
and the Chestnut, and these again by the Hickory, Chestnut Oak, Black Gum, Maple, and
Tulip Tree.

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Their Distribution
Affected by Man.

The distribution of some of the species both in number and location has
been much disturbed by human agency. Not only has the Pine (thanks to its
winged seed) taken possession of much cleared land once occupied by the
deciduous forest, but the same quality has enabled it to establish its seedlings
in great numbers wherever, throughout the forest, the former occupants have been so
reduced by the axe, fire, or cattle, as to leave open spaces on the ground. Black Walnut
has nearly disappeared as a forest tree, while the Black Locust and Sassafras have greatly
increased in consequence of the favorable conditions presented by the numerous old fields.

The Forest

Biltmore lies near the centre distribution of the forest flora of eastern North
America, and the number of its native trees is consequently very large. From
its position it also follows that the climate is suited to the growth of a very
large number of trees and shrubs, a fact of much interest in view of the
extensive arboretum which has been begun.

List of the Trees.

The following is a list of the species found growing naturally on the
Magnolia acuminata, L. Cucumber Tree. Ilex opaca, Ait. Holly.
Liriodendron Tulipifera, L. Tulip Tree. Yellow Poplar. Æsculus octandra, Marsh. Sweet Buckeye.
Asimina triloba, Dunal. Papaw. Acer barbatum, Michx. Sugar Maple.
Tilia Americana, L. Basswood. Lin. Acer barbatum var. nigrum,

Black Maple.
Tilia heterophylla, Vent. White Basswood. Lin.

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Acer saccharinum, L. Soft Maple. Diospyros Virginiana, L. Persimmon.
Acer rubrum, L. Red Maple. Halesia tetraptera, L. Rattle-box. Silver-bell Tree.
Acer negundo, L. Box Elder. Fraxinus Americana, L. White Ash.
Rhus typhina, L. Staghorn Sumach. Chionanthus Virginica, L. Fringe Tree.
Rhus Vernix, L. Poison Sumach. Sassafras, Sassafras Luda. Sassafras.
Robinia Pseudacacia, L. Black Locust. Ulmus fulva, Michx. Red Elm. Slippery Elm.
Gleditsia triacanthos, L. Honey Locust. Celtis occidentalis, L. Hackberry.
Prunus Americana, Marsh. Wild Plum. Morus rubra, L. Red Mulberry.
Prunus Pennsylvanica, L. f. Wild Red Cherry. Platanus occidentalis, L. Sycamore.
Prunus serotina, Ehrh. Wild Black Cherry. Juglans nigra, L. Black Walnut.
Pyrus coronaria, L. Crab Apple. Hicoria ovata, Britt. Shelibark Hickory.
Crataegus coccinea, L. Scarlet Haw. Hicoria alba, Britt. Big-bud Hickory.
Crataegus tomentosa, L. Haw. Hicoria glabra, Britt. Pig-nut.
Crataegus flava, Ait. Summer Haw. Hicoria minima, Britt. Bitter-nut. White Hickory.
Amelanchier Canadensis,
 Torr. & Gray.

Shad-bush. Service Berry.
Quercus alba, L. White Oak.
Quercus minor, Sarg. Post Oak.
Hamamelis Virginica, L. Witch-hazel. Quercus Prinus, L. Chestnut Oak.
Cornus florida, L. Flowering Dogwood. Quercus rubra, L. Red Oak.
Nyssa sylvatica, Marsh. Black Gum. Pepperidge. Quercus coccinea, Wang. Scarlet Oak.
Viburnum prunifolium, L. Stag-bush. Quercus tinctoria, Bartram. Black Oak.
Oxydendrum arboreum,DC. Sour-wood. Quercus cuneata, Wang. Spanish Oak.
Kalmia latifolia, L. Laurel. Ivy. Quercus aquatica, Walt. Water Oak.
Rhododendron maximum, L. Rhododendron. Great
Quercus imbricaria, Michx. Shingle Oak.
Castanea pumila, Mill. Chinquapin.

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Castanea sativa var, Am-
 ericana, Sarg.

Populus balsamifera, L. Balsam. Balm of Gilead.
Populus monilifera, Ait. Cottonwood. Carolina
Fagus ferruginea, Ait. Beech.
Carpinus Caroliniana,Walt. Hornbeam. Iron-wood. Juniperus Virginiana, L. Red Cedar.
Betula nigra, L. River Birch. Pinus Strobus, L. White Pine.
Betula lenta, L. Black Birch. Pinus rigida, Mill. Pitch Pine.
Alnus serrulata, Wilid. Black Alder. Pinus Virginiana, Mill. Jersey Pine. Scrub Pine.
Salix nigra, Marsh. Black Willow. Pinus pungens, Michx. f. Table-mountain Pine.
Populus grandidentata,

Pinus echinata, Mill. Short-leaf Pine.
Tsuga Canadensis, Carr. Hemlock.

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Previous to the time of purchase by Mr. George W. Vanderbilt, the area
now included inBiltmore Estate was held by a number of small farmers.
These people, poor as the mountain farmer is apt to be, were obliged to use
without reserve all the resources of their scantily productive lands. They
were therefore in the habit of cutting all trees which could be used or sold as fuel, fencing,
or saw-logs. They turned their cattle into the forest, and often burned over their wood-
lands for the sake of the pasturage. A large part of the supply of fire-wood for Asheville
formerly came from land now included in the Estate. Under such treatment the forest, orig-
inally of moderate quality, grew steadily worse. The more valuable species of trees were
removed, and the less valuable ones remained to seed the ground and perpetuate their kind.
The fertility of the soil was destroyed by fire, while the young trees which grew up plentifully
in many places were cut back year after year by the browsing of cattle. At the time when
forest management was begun on the Estate the condition of a large part of the forest was
deplorable in the extreme.


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Its Effect.

The effect of this ill-treatment was necessarily marked. At Biltmore, as in any
virgin forest, the different age-classes of the trees tended to distribute themselves in
such a way that they were all present in all parts of the forest. This is the dis-
tinctive character of the so-called Selection Forest. When the removal of the best trees was
begun, long before the present ownership, the effect was to produce two types of forest quite
distinct from each other, but connected by a great variety of intermediate forms. In the first
case (thanks to the increased light which came in where the old trees had stood) the young
trees of the undergrowth sprang into vigorous life, and the remaining old trees bore more
abundant seed, which germinated and furnished a still younger class. The result was then an
imperfect Selection Forest, with the older classes of trees weak in the number of specimens,
and with many of the younger classes in the series wanting altogether. In the second case
the controlling influence was fire, which often followed a method of cutting that left a large
part of the lighter and more inflammable portions of the tree on the ground. Most fre-
quently the fire was fatal to the younger growth, while the old trees, protected by their
thicker bark, escaped. The increased light which then reached the ground gave rise to
another crop, either of seedlings or sprouts, which was approximately of even age.

Present Condition.

The present condition of the forest then follows under these two general heads:
(1) Where all ages are more or less completely present in all parts, and (2) where
there is but one distinctly predominant age-class. It occasionally happens that
this age-class is composed of the larger trees; but in the great majority of cases saplings

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and low poles form the principal crop. Over these the remaining old trees spread their
widening crowns.


That portion of the forest which resembles the Selection Forest must be treated
as such, and need not be discussed here. It is evident that in the other part
immediate action was required. The old spreading trees were seriously injuring
the young growth below them, and it was impossible to found a system of man-
agement on the lives of the older specimens, which, in very many cases, were already
perishing. It became necessary, therefore, to institute a series of improvement cuttings
which should remove these older trees, and prepare the way for a working plan under the
Regular High Forest System, the characteristic of which is that the trees of the same age are
grouped together, so that there are (theoretically) as many separate groups as there are years
in the age of the oldest trees.

Their Limitations.

Two limitations imposed themselves at once. No older trees could be cut
where the young crop was very far from being dense enough to protect the soil,
and no cuttings could be made which would cost more than the value of the
product. The term of six years was tentatively set for carrying out these cuttings and the
inauguration of the working plan. It was almost impossible to set a shorter period, for the
reason that in many cases all the old trees could not be cut at once, on account of damage
to the future crop; and for the same reason not less than five years must intervene between
the first and second cuttings on the same ground.


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Other Needed

Beside the improvement cuttings, which were of themselves fitted to produce a
more valuable mixture of species as well as a healthier and more uniform forest,
there were a few things which must be seen to at once. First, cattle must be
excluded from the forest, since the harm they do in browsing and breaking the
young trees is very serious. Second, fire must also be kept out, for the presence of these
two destructive agencies may be fatal to the future of any piece of forest. Fire had already
done great injury to the quality of the forest floor by consuming the waste and the dead
leaves, and destroying, in conjunction with too much light and air, that all-important factor,
the vegetable mould. Third, on large parts of the area, where the crop was not dense
enough, but was too old to allow planted trees to compete successfully with those already
on the ground, the forest must be allowed absolute rest. The present crop will occupy
the ground more fully as it grows older.

Study and
Description of
the Forest.

The preliminary study of the Forest, from which the facts just cited were
derived, was greatly assisted by the lines which an extensive topographical
survey had already run over the estate. These lines divided the area into
squares of five hundred feet. It was found convenient to adopt these sections,
as they were called, as the units of description, although it was not possible
always to follow the boundaries thus laid down. The description of sections, each of
which regularly contains about 5. 7 acres, is illustrated by the following example: Section
No. 180, area 5.7 acres, is 2,130 to 2,230 feet above sea level. The section includes a

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ridge and its northeast and southwest slopes, each with an inclination of 20% The soil
is loam, the rock gneiss, the forest floor good. There are altogether upon the ground 0.7
of the number of trees which should normally be there. These are White, Scarlet and
Post Oaks, Hickory and Chestnut, which together form 0.6, and Short-leaf and Pitch Pine,
together 0.1. The locality is of second quality, and the forest standing upon it resembles
a broken and irregular Selection Forest, with patches of fairly regular saplings and poles.
The prevailing age-class is saplings, the prevailing species White Oak; and the require-
ments are that those standards or old trees which are not needed for seed should be cut
down. Of these it is estimated that there are available for felling enough to yield about
3,000 feet, board measure, of lumber per acre.

The Card Cata=

Each description was written by means of abbreviations on a card of the
size of the old postal-card (3 X 5 inches); and the whole series, something over
600 in number, was arranged in the form of a card catalogue, and furnished
a very complete and convenient description of the details of the forest.


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Locating the
Cuttings: First

In deciding where to begin the improvement cuttings several considerations
were kept in view. First, the present roads are faulty in location, grade and
construction, and in wet weather are exceedingly heavy. Later on they will
be replaced by a road system rightly planned and constructed. The distances
for hauling were, therefore, to be made as short as possible. Second, the cost of
transportation must be equalized from year to year. Third, the points most in
need of improvement cuttings must be taken up first. Fourth, these three prime factors
must be modified to some extent by the necessity of doing the work as economically as
possible during the first year, when expenses would necessarily be higher than after a wider
experience with special local conditions had indicated cheaper methods. Work was begun at
a point near Biltmore where the old trees were sufficiently numerous and the younger growth
vigorous enough to allow profitable cutting. The quality of the old trees and the location
made it impossible to produce anything but cord-wood, for which the Brick-works at Biltmore
gave a steady and profitable market.

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Second Series.

The second series of improvement cuttings was begun on the Arrow-head
Peninsula, almost at the opposite end of the Estate, where the quality and
quantity of old trees to be removed made it possible to undertake lumbering with
some chance of profit. The separation of the cutting areas by nearly the whole length of the
Estate served both to equalize the cost of transportation and to make use of the saw-mill
already set up without incurring the expense of a removal. Cord-wood also was manufac-
tured in view of the probable establishment of a plant for the distillation of wood-alcohol,
for which purpose wood may remain piled up in the forest for two years without injury.
No improvement cuttings will be made west of the French Broad, because the special
treatment adopted for that part of the Forest, to be described hereafter, does not require
them before going into effect.


The detail of the improvement cuttings for cord-wood near Biltmore was as
follows: The trees which were to fall were first carefully marked. Great care
was used not to cut too heavily at first. There was no standard of comparison in
this country, and the thinness of the Forest and the uncertain amount of harm which might
be done by the falling trees rendered it necessary to proceed with the utmost caution. After
the selection of the trees to fall they were notched with an axe, under the direc-
tion of the foreman, and thrown by the sawyers in the place he had selected.

Cutting Cord=

An occasional tree was felled by the axe, but this was the exception. Each tree
was then sawed into the proper lengths for cord-wood, and the sawyers went on to


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the next, leaving the splitting by wedge and mallet to another gang, as well as the cleaning
up of the tops and their reduction to cord-wood and unsalable piles of twigs. The wood was
next piled and measured, and hauled by mule teams to a side track on the private railroad
which connects Biltmore village with the site of Biltmore House, and there loaded on a car
and shipped to the Brick-works.


The lumbering was less simple. It was necessary to look out and build roads
from the saw-mill to the roll-ways, and a road gang must be employed to keep
these roads roughly in order. After the falling of the trees by the sawyers, and
when the better part of the trunks had been cut into logs and the less valuable portions into
shingle-bolts, logs and bolts were skidded by mules to the roll-ways, from which they were
transferred to the wagons, and thence to the roll-ways again at the mill. It was found
advantageous to make use of the dray or go-devil in the skidding. The mill was a small
portable circular, with a 52-inch saw, run by a 20 horse-power portable engine. Its product,
considering the quality of the logs and the mill, was excellent. The lumber was transferred
directly from the saw to the lumber yard, where it was stacked in piles until called for. After
the available logs about the first location of the mill had been sawed up the engine was used
to run a shingle-mill, and when all the bolts had been disposed of the whole plant was
removed to another site which had been prepared for it on the opposite side of the Arrow-
head Peninsula, where the same process was again gone through with.

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Lumber and

The lumber produced was oak, pine and poplar. Shingles of pine and poplar
were cut from slabs and defective logs, as well as from shingle-bolts, so that the
waste, always very large on a portable circular mill, was reduced as far as

Cord=Wood from
the Tops.

After the completion of the lumbering, the gangs were set at work cutting cord-
wood from those parts of the trees which were left on the ground. This was done
chiefly in anticipation of the wood-alcohol plant. The Arrow-head Peninsula is
too far from Biltmore to furnish a supply of cord-wood for the Brick works, with
the present roads and consequent cost of transportation.

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The question of intelligent supervision in the case of a forest such as Bilt-
more is at the present day an exceedingly difficult one. Under our actual
economic conditions the ability to produce favorable money results, while
improving the forest, stands paramount. In other words, forester and lumberman must be
combined. Either alone may be easily found; the two united in one man I have yet to
discover. The plan which I adopted under the circumstances was to select a lumberman
young enough to be willing to learn, old enough to have had practical experience in
handling men and lumber on a large scale, and of sufficient foresight and enterprise to
appreciate the possibilities of forestry, and to be willing to adopt it as his profession. Such a
man I found in my assistant at Biltmore, Mr. C. L. Whitney, of Malone, in the Adirondack
region of New York. During the preliminary examination and description of the forest
Mr. Whitney was constantly with me; and the training which I was able to give him, com-
bined with his previous acquaintance with the woods was sufficient to enable him to execute
the comparatively simple improvement cuttings with safety and success. His own experience

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in lumbering, on the other hand, enabled him to carry out the practical details of the
operations in an economical and workmanlike manner.

Training the

Under the supervision of the assistant forester a very small crew was at first
set to work cutting cord-wood. These men were very carefully watched, and
were gradually taught to spare and protect the young growth. From this nucleus
foremen were gradually found to take charge of other crews as the work increased,
and carry the principles in which they had been drilled into wider effect. It was found
necessary to enlarge the force very slowly, for the idea of any care for the next crop was
totally new to the men, and was slowly grasped in its full meaning. Hence arises the neces-
sity for giving steady employment to at least a portion of the force, for the work of
instruction is too cumbersome to be gone through with year by year.



[Page 37]


Economic Position
of Biltmore

The pecuniary results of this first year have not been unsatisfactory. In judg-
ing of them several considerations must be kept in mind. In the first place, the
economic situation of Biltmore Forest is not a fortunate one. Its output, neces-
sarily of no high grade, comes into direct competition with the low-class products
of the enormous area of timber-land which surrounds it. Fire-wood in this
region is of very little value beyond the cost of cutting and transportation, and a large pro-
portion of the product of Biltmore Forest must be fire-wood for many years to come. The
price of the output of lumber also is influenced by the large quantity of lumber of inferior
grade which mills in this region are not able to ship any distance to market. Especially must
it be kept in mind that the output of the forest is sold at market prices in open competition.
Biltmore Forest furnishes cord-wood to the Brick-works, ties to the Railroad, posts to the
Agricultural Department, and lumber for different uses on the Estate, simply because it does
so at prices which make it worth while for these departments to purchase of the Forest rather
than elsewhere.

[Page 38]

Cost of

A word should also be said as to the cost of such superintendence as has
already been described. For an area of less than 4,000 acres it is manifestly
excessive. Further, a considerable amount of the time of the assistant forester
was occupied with his personal training, and the working plan, the cost of which,
since its operation will extend over many years, might not unfairly have been left in large
part to subsequent accounts. The salary of the consulting forester, on the other hand, has
not been included, because by far the larger part of it is chargeable to the working plan and
other preliminary matters, and to preparing for the Columbian Exposition an exhibit of which
this pamphlet is a part. To make the present statement valuable as an example to which
contemplated work in forestry may be referred, the cost of superintendence might better be
assumed at, say, 10% of the whole expense. The amount of attention given to the descrip-
tion, working plan, and Chicago exhibit, as well as to the general care of Biltmore Forest on
account of its character as a country seat, would have sufficed for an area at least ten times as
large under ordinary forest management.

The Market.

On the other hand, it should be said that the Forest was fortunate in finding a
ready market for its cord-wood, without which it would have been necessary to
establish a wood-yard in Asheville, or a plant for the production of wood-alcohol.
The money result in either case would, in all probability, have been equally good; but, as
neither experiment was tried, no definite statement can be made. It was also fortunate in
finding an equally ready market for its lumber and shingles on the Estate, although the whole

[Page 39]

product was not so disposed of. It was found advantageous to sell a portion of it to outside
buyers at a slightly higher price.

Receipts and

The preliminary study for the working plan was begun early in February, 1892,
and actual cuttings followed in May. The following statement covers the year
from May 1, 1892, to April 30, 1893. But while it includes a year's expenses,
the credit side of the account derives little benefit from the work that was done
before June 30, 1892.
Salary of assistant forester, and wages of laborers in forest $4,677.29
Labor of horses and mules 1,786.28
Wages of sawyer and others operating saw and shingle mills 2,585.17
Interest and deterioration on wagons and minor machinery (10%) 46.13
Interest and deterioration on saw-mill (10%) 27.70
Interest and deterioration on engine and boiler (10%) 90.00
Mill supplies and repairs 314.93
Tools and repairs on same 219.81
Office furniture and maintenance 164.45

[Page 40]

From 706 railroad ties $151.40
From 2,226 2/3 cords of wood 4,550.00
From lumber 896.35
From posts 9.36
Lumber at $8 to $25 per M $1,302.50
Cord-wood, @ $1 and $1.25 a cord 2,344.00
Shingles, @ $1.50 and $2.80 per M 246.00
Telephone poles at 25c 19.75
Balance $392.40


The following is a partial list of prices paid and charged:
Labor: Men, $0.90 to $1.00 per day.
Mules, $0.75 per day.
Products: Oak lumber, $8 to $25 per M.
Pine lumber, $4 to $14 per M.
Poplar lumber, mill run, $12 per M.
Shingles, $1.50 to $2.80 per M.
Cord-wood delivered on the cars, $2 per cord.
Railroad ties, $0.30 each.


[Page 43]

Effect of the

So far as can be judged at this early date, the improvement cuttings seem
to have accomplished what was expected of them. The appearance of the forest
where they have passed is much improved, and the young trees which have been
set free are doing well. But, although it is too early to pronounce definitely upon
all their effects, two facts seem to have been established. These are, that large
trees surrounded by a dense growth of smaller ones may be felled and removed with compara-
tively very unimportant injury to the young crop, and that the additional cost of the
necessary care, beyond that of ordinary destructive lumbering, is so small as to be out of all
proportion to the result. If this latter fact should be established later on in other parts
of the United States, as there seems little reason to doubt that it will be, its importance to
the future success of forestry will be very great. Its value in practice is enormous.

[Page 44]


The Forest as a
Part of the Estate.

The treatment of Biltmore Forest must be somewhat influenced by the char-
acter of the Estate as a country residence, with its gardens, farms, deer-park,
and roads carefully planned and planted. The forest management is conse-
quently subject to occasional checks in cases where silvicultural measures would
conflict Somewhat with the immediate purpose of the landscape architect. These cases are
fortunately rare, and the loss of interest in the forest management which they occasion is
more than offset by the arboretum and forest planting experiments.

Outline of the
Working Plan.

The following sketch of the working plan after the improvement cuttings have
been finished is an outline rather than a definite scheme. A working plan should
above all be elastic, and especially so in the present instance, where the results of
the improvement cuttings and the future economic position of the Forest are not
fully known. The general objects of forest management at Biltmore are three in number.
The first is profitable production, which will give the Forest direct utility. If this were
absent, the existence of the Forest would be justified only as it lends beauty and interest to

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the Estate. Second, a nearly constant annual yield, which will give steady occupation to a
trained force, allow a permanent organization, and make regular operations possible. Third,
an improvement in the present very mediocre condition of the Forest, without which its
future would be nearly hopeless.

Regular High
Forest System.

These general objects are to be attained by means of two systems of manage-
ment. On the east side of the French Broad the Regular High Forest System
will be adopted, and the Selection System on the west side. In each case the
rotation, or the length of time in which a second crop becomes ripe on the same
ground after the removal of the first, was fixed at 150 years. In a theoretically perfect forest,
under the Regular High Forest System, there would be as many sub-divisions as there were
years in the rotation. The trees of each sub-division would be of equal age and would
differ from those of the next sub-division by one year. In the present case, for instance, the
oldest sub-division, bearing trees 150 years of age, would be ready for the axe; and the
cutting, after passing over it, and then over all the others in succession, would reach it again
at the end of 150 years.

Selection System.

The Selection Forest in its perfect state has trees of all ages mixed together
everywhere instead of being separated into groups of uniform age. The annual
yield is taken each year from all parts of the forest. But under such a method
transportation would manifestly be too costly for American conditions. Consequently, the
Localized Selection System was adopted in its place. Under it the annual yield comes from

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a restricted portion during several years; then from another portion during a like period, and
so on until the cutting has passed over the whole Forest. In the present case the yield will
come from one-fifth of the area during each period of five years. Consequently the cutting
will return over the same land once in twenty-five years.


The first step in preparing the Biltmore working plan was to divide the Forest
into Compartments of an average of about forty-two acres each, numbered con-
secutively from 1 to 92. This division was for convenience of reference, and in
order to delimit land of approximately the same productive quality, on which, in the end, for-
ests of the same kind and grade might be expected to grow. It also served to furnish an indis-
pensable mode of reference to the different parts of the Forest. The lines on which these
Compartments were made are natural ones, such as ridges, streams, and hollows, supple-
mented in very many cases by the old wood-roads which cross the Forest in every direction.


The Compartments were united into Blocks, one on the west and two on the
east side of the French Broad River. The Block is the unit of management, and
is treated largely by itself, almost as though it were a separate forest, and were so
placed and organized as to stand alone. Cuttings will be made in each Block every year, with
the result that the total cost of transportation from the nearer and more distant parts of the
forest will tend always toward an average. For silvicultural reasons also Blocks are necessary
in order to restrict the annual cuttings to smaller areas, and to reduce the dangers from
insects and other enemies.

[Page 47]



Under the direction of Mr. Frederick Law Olmsted a collection of trees and
shrubs has been made with the intention of planting them out, when they have
attained a proper size, along the line of a road to be called the Arboretum Drive.
This road, about five miles in length, will run through some of the most beautiful portions of
the Estate, and will be lined for a hundred feet on either side by the plants of the collec-
tion. It is the intention to make this Arboretum one of the finest in existence. There are
already in the Nursery more kinds of trees and shrubs than there are in the Botanical Gar-
dens at Kew, near London, and the number is being steadily increased. The climate will
allow a larger variety of trees than that of any other large arboretum which has so far been
begun, while the liberal plan of the work is intended to make the best use of so admirable an
opportunity. A careful record of the treatment of each species is being, and will be, kept;
while a Forest Botanical Library, already of considerable extent, will furnish the necessary
aid to study.

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After the subtraction of all land occupied for any definite purpose, there remains
at Biltmore considerably more than 1,000 acres at present lying waste, but which
is to be used later on for planting forest trees. This land, composed of old
clearings, is situated largely on the tops and shoulders of the hills, on the side toward the
river. For the sake of the landscape it is important that these areas should be planted with
trees, while the opportunity which thus arises is valuable along many lines. The climate of
Biltmore permits the successful growing of an exceedingly large number of species. The
space available is very large, and the Nursery already established along the Swannanoa gives
nearly perfect facilities for raising the seedlings. The plan upon which the forest planting
is to be undertaken is a wide one and is likely to produce important results. We are
acquainted with a great number of exotic species in their garden character: we know very few
of them as to their adaptation to Forest uses. Of the silvicultural character of American
trees we are almost equally ignorant. It is intended, therefore, to plant blocks of an acre
or more of each of a very large number of American and foreign trees, assigning each to
the character of land which it is most likely to occupy with advantage. These blocks are to
consist of both pure and mixed forest, and a record is to be kept from the planting of the seed
showing the yearly conduct of each species. Such an experiment may be expected, in the
course of time, to add many important species to the useful forest flora of the country. While
it is true that in general native trees are best there are, nevertheless very important instances
where exotics have been exceedingly useful.

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The list of seedlings now being raised in the Nursery for forest planting includes twenty
species, with an estimated total of 1,867,000 individuals. As may be inferred, the great
majority of species for this work have not yet been planted, and those included above are
largely standard kinds. The cost of raising young trees in a private nursery such as that at
Biltmore, not including interest on the ground, or the price of the seed, may be roughly
estimated from the statement that two year old transplanted Tulip-tree seedlings, standing in
the nursery rows, cost $3.35 per thousand; and four year old transplanted White Pines, $4.85
per thousand.

Value of
the Work.

The continuation of the work at Biltmore along the lines already defined may
be expected to yield much information of general value. The Arboretum, from
its situation and extent, will aid powerfully in determining the value of very
many kinds of trees for a large part of the country, and will offer admirable
opportunities for their study. The forest planting may add new species to our list of com-
mercially valuable trees, and discover new uses for those already known. It will add greatly
to our scanty silvicultural knowledge of the trees which it will contain. For the Forest a still
larger field of usefulness may be anticipated. The value of the methods already used in its
treatment will be determined, new adaptations of the principles of forestry to American con-
ditions will be developed, and information as to the business side of forest management will
be gained. But above all, it will be useful in defining and helping to solve the problems
with which American forestry must deal, and in awakening an interest in those practical
details upon which its success in the future must so largely depend.