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  • Writer's pictureMaryland Forests

Did you know that forestry can be a family affair?

Updated: Aug 2, 2023


Meet Arthur & Rachel Egolf

 

The Egolf’s story is a family affair. The husband and wife duo are both Maryland licensed professional foresters. Arthur has a Master’s degree in forestry and has spent his career running his logging operation, Egolf Forest Harvesting, from sun up to sun down. Rachel has utilized her forestry degree in serving in various roles in the public and private sectors. The couple agrees that their main job has been raising their two sons, Teddy and Cole. Instilling an understanding of the outdoors and how our natural resources are so intertwined has been a priority for Rachel and Arthur.


As Rachel simply puts it, “We’re foresters.” Her interest in forestry goes back to her school days in Somerset County and some inspiring biology and environmental resource teachers. “I really loved anything to do with the Bay,” Egolf says. Noting that forests are the highest and best use for protecting the bay.


Rachel’s wooded path continued in her youth when she signed up for the Natural Resources Career Camp offered by Maryland Forestry Foundation. “I just love the sounds and the feeling of being out in the woods,” she adds. From there, it was on to Virginia Tech for a forestry degree before she came back to Maryland and worked for the Maryland Forest Service as a forester on the Eastern Shore.

While Rachel was receiving a Bay-inspired education on the Shore, Arthur was growing up in a subdivision with no background in forestry. He went off to college to become a wildlife biologist. “That’s what I thought I was going to be, but I just love the woods,” he adds. However, the forest was in his genes earlier than he realizes, with firewood being his first entrepreneurial venture in the woods from junior high into high school. Through his logging operation, Arthur’s timber harvests are providing habitat improvement for many species of wildlife.


The married couple, reside in Delaware with their two boys. Rachel and Arthur will occasionally ride by a stand of trees and realize it’s a forest that Rachel planted 20 years ago that he’s now thinning. It’s that cycle of forest management that the Egolfs want to continue for many generations.


“The very first tract I ever worked on when I came over to Delaware, we own it now,” says Arthur. That same tract was also son Cole’s first work site as part of a work-study for high school. Even though it’s been a grind, “I just love what I do. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” he says.


Arthur’s logging years began back when he was set up with repossessed equipment from Chesapeake Forestry and they financed him. “That’s something that’ll never happen again,” he points out, citing the tougher times nowadays for logging companies to get started. There aren’t any mills anywhere that will finance loggers, with liability concerns probably being the biggest reason, he says.


The biggest hurdle to the profession in his eyes is land ownership and the fact that it’s not all managed for timber. Clearing of land for solar is another concern of the Egolfs, with the loss of wildlife habitat and natural resources, versus their tried and true practice of thinning and managing the forest as a renewable, regenerative resource. With all those things cited, it all comes down to markets and economic opportunities. “We’ve got a fraction of the markets we used to have,” says Arthur. Arthur and Rachel are extremely proud of the role they played in getting Southern Coastal Forest Products, a pole and post mill located in Eden Maryland, up and running. They are also excited to see how emerging carbon markets will benefit landowners and if they keep forests productive.


With challenges and opportunities on the horizon, you can’t keep the Egolf family out of the woods, they admit that tree talk is a common conversation in their house.


Woodland stewards, advocates, and recreation enthusiasts, those traits are strongly instilled in sons Teddy and Cole also. Both boys hunt and can operate chainsaws. Wood grain runs so deep in the family’s DNA that their oldest son Cole drove a skidder to high school on “Drive Anything But A Car Day” to showcase and educate others on timber harvesting and the equipment that’s a part of it. Cole will be going to Del Tech this fall and starting in diesel mechanics, with an eye toward coming back and working for his dad. Teddy being only 15, he’s itching to drive and operate all the equipment.


Arthur and Rachel own and actively manage timberland. They have engaged their sons in the landholdings, noting that if logging isn’t a good fit for either son, there’ll be a steady income coming off the land for both boys if they manage it right. “That’s what I’m trying to instill in them,” Arthur says.


The family pitched in as a whole on the planting side of things for Sussex County, Delaware on a pine harvest and hardwood restoration project. Considering there were 300 ball & burlap trees to get in the ground — just about the largest planting stock possible — Rachel still recalls how helpful the boys were in those efforts. Between helping run the tractor and unloading the trucks, it was all Egolf hands on deck.


Most important to Rachel is taking the boys to properties they work with and having them spend time and get to know the property and the people. Even more personally rewarding, doing some planting reinforcement on their property with her sons, but most of all, planting trees for significant events in their son’s lives. “It’s really cool to see how they’ve grown and how the trees have grown,” she says.


It’s not just her children Rachel is interested in passing on a sense of stewardship to. From teaching Envirothon to working with the Future Farmers of America forestry program, there are avenues to spread the message and she has covered a lot of ground. Rachel cites the book “Leave No Child Inside” by Richard Louv as a big influence on her approach.


Whether involved in outreach and education or forest management and sustainable harvesting, there is no shortage of passion for the forest in the Egolf family tree. “Get kids outside into the woods and they’ll understand it,” says Arthur.


 







Photo Credit: EDWIN REMSBERG PHOTOGRAPHS

Written By: Francis Smith, Natural Resource Planner- Maryland Forest Service

Project Support: Maryland DNR as part of the Delmarva Woodland Stewards Grant, the Maryland Department of Commerce, and the Rural Maryland Council.



 

LINKS TO LEARN MORE:

Richard Louv- "Last Child in the Woods"

Natural Resource Career Camp

Egolf Brothers- "Two of a Kind" from Timber Harvesting Magazine

Maryland's Forests- Great for the Environment and the Economy

Why Join MFA?


 


The above photographs provided by the Egolf family demonstrate their connection to the land.

 

Click here to learn more about MFA's Faces of Forestry project.

If you are interested in becoming one of our "faces," contact Beth Hill at 410-463-1755

 

 



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