Louisiana Naturalist Carolyn Dormon Left a Forest-sized Legacy

Kisatchie National Forest is one of Louisiana’s most beautiful natural resources; however, it wouldn’t be the forest it is today without the work of conservationist and environmentalist Caroline Dormon.

Dormon was born on July 19, 1888, in rural Bienville Parish, just south of Saline. She and her siblings grew fond of the natural world as they explored the longleaf pine forests of Kisatchie Wold, which was formerly a continuous ridge from the Mississippi River floodplain to the Rio Grande Valley before erosion turned the ridge into a line of hills. After earning her degree from Judson College in Marion, Ala., Dormon briefly became a public school teacher until 1918.

In 1920, Dormon began working for the Louisiana Department of Conservation, coordinating her own program of educational outreach and public relations. Dormon soon became the first female member of the Society of American Foresters, where her years of lobbying yielded the establishment of the 600,000-acre Kisatchie National Forest.

Dormon also became a force for tribal representation, campaigning nationally for recognition and assistance of Native American populations. Spending time with the Choctaw, Koasati and Chitimacha tribes, she worked to promote traditional arts as an economic base, while also reviving public interest in ancient tribal traditions such as basket weaving. She was also known as an accomplished naturalist, publishing six books on Louisiana’s native plants. Having never married, Dormon dedicated her life to preserving Louisiana’s natural beauty and advancing Native Americans. Dormon died in November 1971, and today her family home outside Saline is the Briarwood Nature Preserve. Dormon’s impact on conservation and tribal representation in Louisiana have enshrined her as one of the leading female conservationists of the 20th century.

References and more info: https://64parishes.org/entry/caroline-dormon

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