Born: August 10, 1877 in Delancy, New York, a son of Homer R. Pettis and Margaret Davidson

Died: January 29, 1927, buried in St. John's in the Wilderness Cemetery

Married: Maude Eunice Otis November 2, 1904 in Lake Clear Junction

Children: Elizabeth Otis married George M. Saunders

Clifford Robert Pettis came to be known as the "Father of Reforestation" in New York State and Superintendent of State Forests (1910- 1927).

Adirondack Record - Elizabethtown Post, February 3, 1927


Famed Forester Buried In Preserve He Founded—Died Saturday At Albany

Death ended the career of a famous conservationist, Clifford R. Pettis, superintendent of state forests, late Saturday night at his home in Albany, in the fifty-third year of his age. The Adirondack forest preserve which he was largely instrumental in founding and developing is the setting for his final resting place. For 27 years he was a national authority on reforestation. Mr. Pettis originated the first system, of forest nursery practice and he was the author of the "Bulletin of Forest Nursery Practice," which was later adopted as the handbook of the United Stales Forest Service. He also developed the largest single nursery of tree seedlings in the world, that at Saratoga Springs and he was in close touch with two other state nurseries nearly as large.

He was responsible for the state law which made possible the distribution of seedlings at bare cost throughout the state. He also was the originator of the state's forest fire control system.

Mr. Pettis was buried in the cemetery of Saint John in the Wilderness at Paul Smiths Wednesday afternoon by the Masonic lodge of Paul Smiths. Funeral service took place at the home in Albany Tuesday afternoon at 3 o'clock and the body was taken to Paul Smiths in the evening.

He entered the employ of New York State in 1902 as assistant to Colonel William F. Fox who was then head of the Forest, Fish and Game Commission. Mr. Pettis' first outstanding service was establishment of the first forest tree nursery in the Adirondacks at Wawbeek, on the Upper Saranac. Larger nurseries were established latter, at Saranac Inn, Lake Clear Junction and Salamanca. In 1908, appreciating the importance of reforestation of state and private lands, Mr. Pettis advocated a bill in the legislature which provided for distribution of nursery stock to private owners at a price not to exceed the cost of production. This law has been the stimulus for the planting of millions of trees, and has given immense impetus to the forestry movement. At the beginning of this work less than 25,000 trees were planted annually. In eighteen years the number has increased to more than 20,000,000.

His fight against the invasion of the gypsy moth was the first sucessful one in the history of this state. One of the first professional foresters to be graduated from the School of Forestry at Cornell University, Mr. Pettis conceived and carried out most of the great conservation movements which made the work, of the state outstanding in this respect, and was regarded as one of the foremost authorities on forest nursery practice in America.

The state's expenditure of $ 1,000,000 a year for acquisition of new lands was made under his guidance and every site was passed upon by him before its purchase.

Mr. Pettis had been ill for about two months and within the last two weeks his condition became alarming. Late Saturday night he had a sinking spell from which he did not rally. Death was due to uremic poisoning. His wife and daughter survive.


2012-06-19 17:02:19   Isn't there a Pettis Memorial Forest between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid? —MaryHotaling

2012-06-19 18:39:30   Yes - The Forest was named for Clifford R. Pettis —StephanieRybicki