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As an avid outdoorsman since childhood, it was no surprise that Eric Rasmussen went on to earn an Associates degree in Forestry from Paul Smith’s College after leaving high school. Forests having been a life long passion of Eric’s, he also received a B.S. from the SUNY College of Forestry. After graduating, Eric went on to work with the U.S. Forest Service on the Siuslaw National Forest.
Encompassing over 630,000 acres of varying ecosystems, the Siuslaw National Forest is situated along the Pacific Coast in Oregon. The territory is home to countless varieties of wildlife, as well as a mixture of different species of trees and plants.
Eric was so enchanted with the area at the time of his first visit that, years later, he went on to name his own property after the Oregon forest. While Siuslaw, meaning “land of the far away river,” originally referred to the Columbia River in Oregon, Eric’s Siuslaw Tree Farm refers to the Hudson River in New York.
It was in 1959 that Eric assumed ownership and management of Lange’s Groveside Resort & Motel in Acra, Greene County, NY. The area, located in the town of Cairo, had originally been farmland in the 1800’s, but was returned to natural forestland over time. The parents of Loretta, Eric’s late wife, acquired the property in 1946 and later handed it down to the Rasmussen couple. The resort’s property included 150 acres of forest, field, ponds and streams which Eric cultivated into the Siuslaw Tree Farm. The property is comprised of mainly red oak tree stands, though it is interspersed with some white oaks. The land is also home to an abundant amount of wildlife.
Eric has made the Siuslaw Tree Farm available to numerous resort visitors and countless other guests to explore, hike, bird watch, hunt or just observe and learn from. In addition, Eric’s Siuslaw Tree Farm has been visited by over 10,000 sixth grade students from Greene County through Environmental Awareness Days, which have been held there every year since 1970. These thousands of mostly eleven, twelve, and thirteen year old kids have learned about forests, wildlife, water quality and many other topics in a wonderful outdoor setting. Some of these youths have gone on to enter various fields related to forestry and conservation as a result of this initial exposure.
Eric has been repeatedly recognized for his commitment to educating others through Siuslaw Tree Farm. Eric received the 1999 NYS Tree Farmer of the Year Award. The annual award is presented to a forest landowner who practices sustainable forest management and who goes above and beyond to educate others about good forestry practices. More recently, Eric was presented with the 2006 Forester of the Year Award. On February 1, 2007, the New York Society of American Foresters honored Eric with the award, which is given to a person who has demonstrated sustained and exemplary service to the forestry community.
Perhaps Eric’s most generous act is his recent gift of his beloved Siuslaw Tree Farm to the Agroforestry Resource Center (ARC), an education and research facility run by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Greene County. The ARC is one of two agroforestry centers in the U.S. It is Eric’s desire to ensure that Siuslaw will be forever available to those who wish to learn about the importance of forests and forest management, as well as sustainable practices. As such, Eric and his family donated the entire property to the ARC, with the exception of the 5 acres where he continues to live.
Eric’s current memberships include the Society of American Foresters and the Catskill Forest Association. In addition, he is chairman of the Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District. Eric is also on the Advisory Committee for the ARC, whose mission is to “sustain the ecological, aesthetic and economic values of forested lands through education”. This is the exact same mission that Eric has always shared. In addition, Eric has been a member of NYFOA since the 1960’s, when he attended the first meeting at Bray Hall.
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