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Bernhard Eduard Fernow (January 7, 1851 ‚Äď February 6, 1923) was the third chief of the USDAmarker's Division of Forestry of the United Statesmarker from 1886 ‚Äď 1898, preceding Gifford Pinchot in that position, and laying much of the groundwork for the establishment of the United States Forest Service in 1905. Pinchot was the first Chief Forester of the USFS. Fernow's philosophy toward forest management may be traced to Cotta's preface to Anweisung zum Waldbau (Instruction in Silviculture) or Linnaeus' "economy of nature".

Fernow was born in Hohensalza marker in Prussian Polandmarker. After studying at the University of K√∂nigsberg and the Forest Academy at M√ľndenmarker, he met an American woman tourist in Germany whom he followed back to the United States where they were married. She actively helped him in the many aspects of his work

As chief of the USDA's Division of Forestry, Fernow's main policy goals were the establishment of a national forest system and introduction of scientific forest management. He produced many scientific reports while working toward the creation of national forests to protect watersheds. They were established in 1891 but placed under the control of the Department of Interior's General Land Office. Fernow then labored in vain for their transfer from the GLO to his office in the Department of Agriculture.

In 1898 Fernow left the Division of Forestry to become the first dean of the New York State College of Forestry at Cornell. The program was the first four-year forestry school in the United States. When the mismanagement of the college forest ran afoul of its neighbors in the Adirondacks, New York governor Benjamin Barker Odell, Jr. vetoed an appropriation for the college's operating funds in 1903, effectively closing the school.. In his veto message Governor Odell said: "The operations of the New York State College of Forestry have been subjected to grave criticism, as they have practically denuded the forest lands of the State without compensating benefits. I deem it wise therefore to withhold approval of this item until a more scientific and more reasonable method is pursued in the forestry of the lands now under the control of Cornell University."(Charles Z. Lincoln, ed., Messages from the Governors, X [Albany,1910],555)as a footnote in .

In 1907, Fernow became the founding Dean of the University of Torontomarker's Faculty of Forestry, Canada's first university school devoted to forest science. He served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Forestry, which he had started at Cornell in 1902, until his death in 1923. His reputation and legacy have suffered because of the success and self-promotional efforts of Gifford Pinchot and others at Fernow's expense.

Mount Fernowmarker, a peak in the Cascade Range, was named for Bernhard Fernow by Albert H. Sylvester.

Further Reading

Bernhard Eduard Fernow: a story of North American forestry by Andrew Denny Rodgers.Published in 1951, Princeton University Press (Princeton)

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