PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — What’s in a name? If the name is Gifford Pinchot, it means a life dedicated to conservation and a storied legacy to live up to.
Many associate the name with the Gifford Pinchot National Forest — is one of the oldest national forests in the United States. It encompasses more than 1 million acres of natural beauty in Washington state and includes Mount Saint Helens and Mount Adams.
Gifford Pinchot was the first head of the U.S. Forest Service and the 28th governor of Pennsylvania.
His grandson, Gifford Pinchot III, lives in the Seattle area. He founded Pinchot University — the first school in America to offer an MBA in sustainable business. It has since merged with Presidio Graduate School.
Pinchot is a sought-after consultant and is identified with “intrapreneurship” — a concept that allows employees to act like entrepreneurs within corporations. His clients include half of America’s Fortune 100, including Apple and Google.
He believes good business and sustainability should go hand-in-hand with addressing climate change.
“There is no business on a dead planet,” he said.
Like his grandfather before him, Pinchot believes future generations rich and poor deserve access to the grandeur of nature. Conservation is a family business.
“And that has always moved me and it’s moved my children and so forth,” Pinchot said. “I view being in nature as one of the really important things that keep me going in life.”
Pinchot differs from his grandfather in one important regard.
“For example, he was very much for putting out forest fires as soon as they started and we now know that forest fires are inevitable,” he said. “And some of these fires, we should let them burn so that we don’t have catastrophic fires later.”
Gifford Pinchot died in 1946 but his mission and memory live on in a national forest and a grandson who bears his name.