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History of Hitchcock Woods

Hitchcock Woods, the nation's largest urban forest, is comprised of nearly 2000 acres maintained by the Hitchcock Foundation for the public. Located in downtown Aiken, South Carolina, the woods are part of the original tract of land purchased by Thomas Hitchcock and William C. Whitney. The Hitchcock Foundation, originated by Mr. Hitchcock and his daughter in 1939, was intended to "protect and maintain the woods for the recreational use and enjoyment by the people of Aiken" (Hitchcock Foundation, 1993). Because of Mr. Hitchcock's generous gift, Hitchcock Woods has been a great source of joy for the people of Aiken throughout the years.

Protecting and Maintaining the Woods

In an effort to "protect and maintain the woods," the Hitchcock Foundation has decided that the best method for doing so would be a series of controlled burns within the Hitchcock Woods. It is now clear to most foresters that the total fire suppression policy of the last 50+ years was a bad idea. In fact, it is just this policy which is primarily to blame for the intense wildfires within the United States as of late.

How can prescribed burning help the Hitchcock Woods?

1. Recycle nutrients bound up in forest floor litter, thus helping to prevent more serious fires.
2. Reduce competition, allowing existing trees to grow larger and improve the forest's health.
3. Leave snags that provide nesting spots for woodpeckers and other birds.
4. Sprout seeds of native plants, such as the long-leaf pine.
5. Produce a more diverse mixture of wildlife habitats.

Click here for additional information about Aiken area wildlife.

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last updated on 11/29/00 by Melissa Goldman