Did you know that the black wrapper under a Reese's peanut butter cup started out as a pine tree?
Meet Anthony DiPaolo, District Forester with Pixelle Specialty Solutions, a specialty paper manufacturer headquartered in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania
Anthony DiPaolo has spent his whole life in Maryland forests and he wouldn’t have it any other way. Whether it’s the hills of Western Maryland or the low-lying Eastern Shore, his woodland workplace is his natural habitat.
Despite growing up in Silver Spring and his father being an architect for Marriott as well as the U.S. State Department, DiPaolo still found his way to the woods. Time spent hunting with his godfather sparked an early interest in being a wildlife biologist before he discovered forestry.
Other than attending Virginia Tech, the self-described “Maryland guy” has always called the state his home, with a natural resources and forestry career that has taken him from Carroll County to Allegany County to Worcester County on the Lower Shore. HIs love of the forest and outdoors made this path “a natural draw” and DiPaolo knew from a young age that he wanted to be in the natural resources field.
He landed his first gig with the National Park Service in D.C., where he was able to get an early introduction to trees with a tree species survey project. From there, DiPaolo went to work with Carroll County Parks & Rec. as a ranger at Piney Run, a job with an education and outreach role he enjoyed immensely. He found his true calling in forestry in 1986 when he joined the Maryland Forest Service.
Starting in Allegany County before becoming Project Manager on the lower Shore, DiPaolo loved the role of foresters as managers and stewards of the land to “improve, protect and preserve it.” DiPaolo realized early on that forestry professionals couldn’t solely spend their time “in the woods talking to trees,” that people and the community are the most important part of natural resources management.
Though he appreciated his prior work as a ranger to teach about natural resources and why to conserve forests, it was the more hands-on work of forestry and working with landowners that he truly enjoyed with the MD Forest Service. “Most will do the right thing,” DiPaolo says when discussing all the good property owners he encountered. After some folks wondered if he and his fellow forestry professionals rode a horse while on the job, he knew that the public perception of foresters needed to be better informed. DiPaolo’s duty, in his mind, was and still is “to help nature along to benefit society and serve humanity better.”
Forest management for creating wildlife habitat, restoration of Atlantic white cedar in Worcester County, and timber stand improvements to encourage tree regeneration were all part of DiPaolo’s work. From seedling to sapling to a mature overstory tree, the cycle of renewal and regeneration within a forest stand as part of timber management and harvesting is something DiPaolo has grown very familiar with over these many years.
The way he sees it, the most obvious difference between harvesting timber or logging versus development is that “trees grow back.” A new forest stand will take hold as the forest floor full of seeds will sprout again whereas concrete and pavement is permanent. “Why destroy something we love?” he’d often wonder when hearing the anti-environment stereotype sometimes applied to foresters.
Doing right by the land and preserving natural systems are what inspires DiPaolo’s current board position with the Lower Shore Land Trust. The Trust assists private landowners through easements to protect and preserve their land in perpetuity, and has over 21,000 acres protected to this point. He points out that a land trust is “a great tool to keep rural rural and sustain working landscapes” that benefit us all.
“It’s a good feeling to see a stand I planted,” DiPaolo says when talking about a sustainable forest and renewable living systems. An example of that regeneration he points out is a forest stand on Snow Hill Road he saw harvested decades ago. Loggers are part of that sustainable solution, and if anyone knows it’s Anthony DiPaolo. After leaving the Forest Service, he went to work for Cropper Brothers Lumber Company for 17 years, eventually joining Glatfelter in 2013 at their Delmar, Maryland location which became Pixelle Specialty Solutions in 2018.
“Loggers love the forest,” says DiPaolo. He points out that regardless of some not having formal education, they “know how to get things done and are some of the smartest people” he’s encountered. “They do the job right,” he says, pointing out the deep family ties in a lot of logging companies that take pride in their work. The industry is a “3-legged stool” according to DiPaolo —landowner, logger and buyer — each is as important as the other and forestry needs all three to continue to exist and benefit the state’s residents and its land for generations to come.
Anthony DiPaolo visiting an active logging job. Shown discussing the harvest plan for the forest thinning with Phil MacDonald Jr. from Timber Harvest Inc.
Photo Credit: EDWIN REMSBERG PHOTOGRAPHS
Project Support: RURAL MARYLAND COUNCIL
Want to learn more about Tony ? He sat down for an interview with Candra Burns from the Talking Forests Podcast. CLICK HERE to listen to Episode 66- Maryland Forests Association Faces of Forestry: Tony from Pixelle and find out what makes Tony #forestproud!
LINKS TO LEARN MORE:
Pixelle Specialty Solutions
Pixelle Mill Tour Videos
Lower Shore Land Trust
Forever Maryland Foundation