The ecological diversity and beauty of the Domain is no accident. Today's forest traces its roots back over 100 years to a time when forest conservation and planning were unheard of in the region, and only beginning to be discussed nationally. Sewanee leadership during those early years of forest conservation set the stage for the Domain of today.
In 1859, the Sewanee Mining Company granted 5,000 acres of land to the University of the South. This 5,000, added to the 5,000 acres it had given in 1857, instantly made the nascent university one of the largest institutions of higher education in the country by acreage. The University of the South has been a leader in land conservation and management ever since. Its first management plan, created in 1899, was one of the first in the country to be written by what would become the U.S. Forest Service. From that first plan forward, Sewanee has been leading the region in progressive forest management. Today, the forests of the University of the South encompass more than 13,000 acres. A research and recreation program is coupled with active forest management in our Demonstration Forest.
The 1899 plan, together with the 1903 follow-up plan, which was much more widely circulated, set the stage for the diverse land base we see today. For a more complete history of these early years, read 2004 Eminent Domain, by Char Miller.
Over the 117 years that have passed since that first planning effort, the University has written at least seven forest management plans. Each of those plans set out goals based on the priorities of the institution at the time, but all had a common thread to maximize the educational value for students.