Carl E. Garrison III receives College of Natural Resources and Environment's alumni achievement award
Carl E. Garrison III, a 1978 forestry alumnus who served as Virginia’s state forester for 10 years, has received the Alumni Award of Achievement from Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources and Environment.
“The Alumni Award of Achievement was created by the college in 2012 to bring special recognition for career and lifetime achievements of college alumni,” said Dean Paul Winistorfer. “There is a time and a place to recognize those individuals who have made a significant and lasting contribution during their career. This award is reserved for career achievements that stand out among many.”
“Carl Garrison has distinguished himself for his character and contributions to forestry in the commonwealth over many years,” Winistorfer continued. “We are proud to call him an alumnus of this college, but more so proud for Carl himself by the example he has set within the forestry community. He is widely respected and loved by many for his selfless leadership, congenial personality, open and transparent leadership, and career-long efforts to better forestry in Virginia.”
Garrison joined the Virginia Department of Forestry in 1980 and spent a total of 25 years with the agency. He left in 1995 to open and operate his own business, Garrison Forestry Services Inc., for eight years, then returned in 2002 to the position of regional forester. Garrison was appointed Virginia’s state forester by Gov. Mark Warner in 2004 and retired earlier this year.
As state forester, Garrison was responsible for ensuring the productive health of Virginia’s 15.8 million acres of forestland as well as protecting citizens from wildfires. He oversaw 21 state forests and tree nurseries producing more than 25 million tree seedlings annually. Virginia’s forestlands provide the basis for more than 144,000 forest industry jobs and more than $27.5 billion in annual benefits to the commonwealth.
Garrison quickly became a national leader in the integration of forestry and technology. He and his team at the Virginia Department of Forestry developed innovative enterprise software known as IFRIS (Integrated Forest Resource Information System), a program modified and used by the U.S. Forest Service and a number of states. IFRIS is still the standard by which other forestry management programs are judged.
He also modernized Virginia’s wildland firefighting capabilities, revamped outreach and educational efforts to landowners and students, and led the way for renewable and sustainable forest products, including biomass energy.
Garrison shared his vision across the region, serving as chairman of the Southern Group of State Foresters and taking leadership roles with the National Association of State Foresters and the Society of American Foresters. He is both a registered forester and a certified forester, highly coveted certifications held by less than 10 percent of those in the profession.
His achievements are especially remarkable because they occurred during a time of major economic setbacks, when his departmental budget was slashed by nearly 29 percent. Almost 20 percent of his staff was eliminated during that time.
“I sought win-win ways to partner with other organizations,” Garrison said. “For instance, when our staff water quality researcher moved on, we supported the Virginia Tech Water Resources Research Center to do research on water issues of critical importance to us.”
Garrison describes himself as a “guy who spent his free time in the woods” growing up in the Richmond suburbs. He received the College of Natural Resources and Environment’s Outstanding Alumnus Award in 2006 and the 2010 Sustained Excellence Award from the American Tree Farm System.
“I’m honored to be recognized by the college that I regard so highly,” Garrison said. “It’s tremendous to be recognized by these friends and peers whose support has helped to make my state career as successful as it was. I’m very grateful.”
Garrison and his wife, Sheila, live in Louisa County, and have a grown son. Garrison, an avid outdoorsman and waterfowl hunter, says he’s enjoying life, family, and relaxing.