Olustee Experimental Forest

Measuring gum yield, Olustee, 1933.

The Olustee Experimental Forest was established in 1931, created from close to 3,500 acres of land on the Osceola National Forest near Lake City, Florida.

Early research on the Olustee forest focused on gum naval stores. Naval stores refers to products extracted from raw pine gum taken from living pine trees. These products included turpentine, rosin, pine oils, and various materials used in the building of wooden ships. Early gum production was an inefficient process, as the techniques used for extraction destroyed millions of small trees each year before they reached logging size.

Naval stores practices drastically changed over the decades following the establishment of Olustee. The research done at Olustee helped to develop new tools and new methods of extraction that left the trees usable for other resources, with no loss in gum production.

The Research Work Unit at Olustee was closed in 1996, but the Southern Research Station in Asheville, NC continues to maintain the Olustee for long-term experiments, and as a source of genetic material for other research.

Microchipping to measure gum yield potential of young slash pine at Olustee, 1960.

Additional Resources:

USFS Naval Stores Album online image gallery.

Inventory of the Pictorial Album of the Naval Stores Industry, FHS Archives.