Don Girton, retired from the USFS after 27 years and in 1987 returned to his home turf in Campbell County, KY where he developed Tug Fork Tree Farm, specializing in Christmas tree production and mixed hardwood forest. The property is as beautiful as a national park only smaller scale!
In the early 1990's he began discussing the idea of launching an association of Kentucky woodland owners with fellow foresters and private landowners around the state. Those conversations evolved into Kentucky Woodland Owners Association (KWOA). In 1994 KWOA was incorporated as a 501 (c)6 with Don as the registered agent. In 1998 The Kentucky Woodland Owners Foundation (KWOF) was incorporated as a 501 (c)3 with Don as registered agent. Both organizations based at Don's home.
Don served as newsletter editor from 1993-Winter 2005/6. As recently as 2018 he was actively commenting on our initiatives to develop our mission statement and related materials. Don was dedicated to bringing people together in appreciation of the natural world and recognizing our role as stewards of these resources.
Don was not one to grab the spotlight and basically asked that no memorial service be held when he died July 30. Even so tributes have poured in. Author Steve Flairty wrote "Kentucky by Heart: NKY conservationist Don Girton left lasting legacy as a friend of the natural world" in the Northern KY Tribune; it is a beautiful expression of the deep appreciation so many of us have for Don's contributions; read the article at nkytribune.com/2023/08/kentucky-by-heart-nky-conservationist-don-girton-left-lasting-legacy-as-a-friend-of-the-natural-world/. Also watch for the Fall issue of the newsletter for more about Don's career and contributions. KWOA and KWOF are proud to carry on his legacy as we work together toward the mission of bringing people and sustainable forestry together.