Board HistoryForest

A Brief Overview of Forty Years

Prepared by Harry E. Murphy, RF
Registered Forester #299

On September 13,1957 at 8:22 PM, Governor Jim Folsom of the State of Alabama signed into law Act No.533 of the 1957 Alabama Legislature, authorizing the establishment of the Alabama Board of Registration for Foresters (ABRF). The Board was organized and held its first meeting on January 27, 1958 at the Alabama Forestry Division office, 711 High Street, Montgomery, Alabama. In this year of our Lord 1998, ABRF begins the 40th year of service to the Alabama public.

In the summer of 1950, the Alabama Chapter of the Society of American Foresters, meeting in Florence, Alabama, gave the first formal consideration of having a bill to provide for the licensing of foresters. Ivan R. Martin was Chapter Chairman and he appointed a committee to draft a legislative bill. By the 1954 meeting of the Alabama Chapter, a final draft of a Bill was adopted. It was introduced in the 1955 Legislature, but did not get on the calendar that year. It was not until 1957 that the Legislature passed the Act providing for the Registration and Licensing of Foresters. A big push for enactment by the Alabama SAF Chapter occurred in 1957, when Jimmy Owens, Chairman, appointed another legislative committee consisting of Bill Sizemore Chairman, John Bradley, John Corbin, E. E. Hale, John Kirpatrick, Earl Porter, Nicholas Stallworth and Jake Stauffer.

Each member was to be assessed a dollar to help defray the cost of advising the membership of the legislative action. The assessment was disappointing. Bill Black, Secretary/Treasurer of the Chapter, reported only 113 members contributed. Chairman Owens, in his letter to the Committee said, "This will not defer our action. Less than 44% of our members have contributed."

As I researched out the history of the development of the Act No.533 in the Auburn Archives (Earl Porter of I.P. provided to the Archives an excellent Forestry file on Alabama SE SAF as well as Owens and Waiter Mills). In reading the correspondence I was impressed with the dedication of the members in pursuing the establishment of the Act. They were not a bit discouraged by not getting the Act through the 1955 Legislature, but planned to try again in 1957 and succeeded.

A number of interesting correspondence(s) were generated by our SAF members with regard to trying to pursue the Bill through the Legislature. They should be remembered for their determination, persistence, tenacity and service. Jake Stauffer, State Forester of Alabama, Professor Wilbur B. DeVall, Vance Mills, Jimmy Owens who was Chapter Chairman in 1956-1957, Ken Seigworth of TVA, Bill Black who was Secretary/Treasurer, Jimmy Haynes, Secretary of the Auburn Forestry Alumni Association, Ken Stallworth, E. E. Hale who was Executive Director of the Alabama Forestry Association or in those days Alabama Forest Products Association, Dr. Bill Sizemore, and of course the ole and faithful workhorse, J. Hilton Watson, assistant to Mr. Hale.

In a letter from Mr. Hale to Bill Sizemore, who was Chairman of the Committee, said, "There are certain Legislators who were especially helpful on the forester licensing bill." And I think we should name them; Gerald Bradford of Grove Hill, Sim A. Thomas of Eufaula, Ralph Windle of Aliceville, Jesse Brown from Vernon, Rankin Fife from Hamilton, W. E. Oden from Russellville, Brian Davis from Cullman and of course, one of our great friends now deceased, Hugh Kall (who actually brought the word to Hilton and Sizemore the day on which the Bill was signed by Governor Folsom.)

Following the bill being signed, Bill Sizemore, Chairman of the Alabama Chapter, submitted a list of names to Governor Folsom to be Board Members Governor Folsom selected Jake Stauffer, Alabama State Forester, Vance Miles of Gulf States, Professor DeVall of Auburn University, John C. Mitchell of TVA and C. T. Prout of SCS.

Now the Board was as poor as paupers were. The Legislature did not appropriate any money and never has. The Alabama Chapter did not have any either. However, the Alabama Forestry Council at their January 28,1958 meeting took note of the problem. Vance Miles suggested that $250 be donated to the newly formed State Board of Registration for Foresters to purchase supplies, "as the Board has no funds with which to get started and it has immediate need for such items as an official seal, letterhead designs, certificates, stationery, and clerical assistance." Some of this money came from a sale of the forestry handbook the Council had published. Ike Martin moved that the balance of the money remaining in this handbook account be transferred to the Council general fund and that the Council donate another $200 from moneys in the treasury to the State Board of Registration for Foresters, when requested by Stauffer who became the Secretary of the Board. The motion was seconded and carried and approximately $450 was given.

As we reflect back, there was some opposition even by members of the SAF Alabama Chapter to having a licensing bill. Imposing was the great unity within the Alabama Forestry community to have this bill. They saw a need. A need to protect the public from fraud, chicanery, deceit, hoax, et.al. and other types of treachery. But there was an important serendipity value that Jake Stauffer, State Forester understood. That was to assure those positions in public service requiring the supervision and management of forest and natural resources be managed by qualified individuals. The licensing of foresters would help him in obtaining for the Alabama Division of Forestry, qualified people that served and advised the public on Forestry and Natural Resources. That was no small matter because in those days there was a great deal of political patronage of public service positions.

Organizations such as the Auburn Alumni Association, the Alabama Forestry Council, the Alabama Forestry Association (Alabama Forest Products Association in those days) and most of the management of the forest products industry supported the bill recognizing it would be of importance to the general welfare of the Alabama public.

Since 1957, there have been 1,694 licenses issued and 671 certified forestry interns. The basic law has been amended six times and the Board has promulgated thirty-one Rules & Regulations. Forty members have served on the Board, all of them foresters. There have been thirty-three members who have assisted in the oral exams given to applicants. We should also take note that the Alabama Forestry Division now the Alabama Forestry Commission allowed the Board to meet in their offices and provided assistance with physical material and clerical help. The organizational meeting was held at the Alabama Forestry Division's offices at 711 High Street, Montgomery, Alabama.

The first clerical administrator was the wonderful Mary Autry. Many of us have fine memories as to her dedication to the Board. Following Ms. Autry, Pamela B. Sears became the office manager. The position of Office Manager is now a full time employee paid by the Board, and the Board now has its own offices and boardroom at 513 Madison Avenue, Montgomery, Alabama. The expenses are self-sustaining by the ABRF from license fees.

The Newsletter was first issued in August 1971, edited by Professor Wilbur B. DeVall. Charles Tomlinson is currently editing it.

Through the usual thoughtfulness and dedication of Prof DeVall, he listed a number of significant items under Background Information. These vintages represent a tremendous expression of the direction, purpose, value, and dedication of people associated with and of the Alabama Board of Registration for Foresters.

One cannot help in reflecting that over 40 years, especially in the beginning, of the dedication, conviction, and commitment of people and the permission by the employers of these people to allow them to take time from their job to contribute to this undertaking. One company stands out, Gulf States Paper Corporation. The leaders, Vance Miles, Jimmy Owens, Jim Haynes, Jimmy Black, and John Kirpatrick, provided were tremendous. Even today the current chairman of the Board, who acts in the great forestry tradition of Gulf States Paper Corporation, Phil Sasnett, is Director of Woodland Management of this very fine civic and forestry-minded company of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. We are indebted to the leadership support from its owners, especially Mrs. Westervelt and Jack Warner.

From the files of Professor DeVall is a copy of Vance Miles' proposal for ABRF seal. A copy of his statement, dated February 24,1958, is found in the. The seal is modeled from the Chinesedesign of perpetuity and the symbols within the seal represent a factory building, the trees represent the forestry sources, the stream represents the water source, the chemistry apparatus represents science, the Aladdin's lamp represents the magic of knowledge, the silhouette represents the State of Alabama, and the gearwheel represents that of the wheel of progress.

Seal Explanation

As we begin the fourth decade of service by the Board of Registration for the people of the State of Alabama, they are reasonably assured that those who would practice forestry in Alabama and licensed by the State of Alabama, have the knowledge, experience, and education.

Of first importance, may be the fact they are protected from fraud, deception and chicanery by the embodiment that each licensee is required by law to follow, a Code of Ethics.

To hold an Alabama Registered Forester License is more than obeying the law. It expresses a personal responsibility for the protection of the public. This is a true measure of the meaning of a profession and one of the distinguishing features of learned professionals.

Past Board Members and Officers


Lea Anna Meadows - Executive Asst. | 513 Madison Ave | Montgomery, AL 36130 | Phone (334)240-9301 | Fax (334) 240-9387 | Email