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Pinchot focus areas:

Climate & Energy


 JFK waving to crowd
 President John F. Kennedy dedicating the
Pinchot Institute for Conservation

At the 50th anniversary of its founding, the Pinchot Institute for Conservation fulfills a unique role within the conservation community, one for which it was conceived by the Pinchot family, and established in partnership with the USDA Forest Service at what is now Grey Towers National Historic Site

The idea for the Pinchot Institute first took shape in 1961 when Gifford Bryce Pinchot, the son of Gifford and Cornelia, proposed on behalf of the Pinchot family to donate the Pinchot estate at Grey Towers to the American people to serve as the home of a new center for environmental education and studies in environmental and natural resource policy.  On September 24, 1963, President John F. Kennedy came to Grey Towers to dedicate the Pinchot Institute for Conservation Studies as “a living memorial” to Gifford Pinchot’s “practical idealism” in developing “a professional approach to the management of our nation’s resources.”  In words that ring even more true in our own time, Kennedy asserted that “Today’s conservation movement must embrace disciplines scarcely known to its prophets of the past.”  “Government must provide a national policy framework for this new conservation emphasis,” he noted, “but government at any level needs sound information, objective research, and study...It is this function which the Pinchot Institute can serve most effectively.”

Grey Towers was designated by the US Department of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark in 1966.  First completed in 1886, the building was in need of extensive repair.  Starting in 1980, more than $16 million in federal, state, and private funds were raised to complete a comprehensive restoration of the historic features and the renovation of other areas of the building and estate for “adaptive re-use” as a world-class conference center.  With the completion of the historic restoration in 2001, Grey Towers could take its place once again as an iconic symbol of US conservation history, this time as a Congressionally-designated National Historic Site.  The 2004 Grey Towers National Historic Site Act, in addition to redesignating Grey Towers, gave Congressional recognition to the successful public-private partnership between the Forest Service and the Pinchot Institute (P.L. 108-447).  It further strengthened the cooperation at Grey Towers between the Pinchot Institute, the USDA Forest Service, and since 2006 the Grey Towers Heritage Association, to continue Gifford Pinchot’s legacy of “practical idealism,” and to carry on Pinchot’s philosophy that in order to be effective, natural resource conservation must be not only ecologically sound, but economically viable and socially responsible.

JFK with group
Today the Pinchot Institute is an internationally-recognized nonprofit conservation organization with programs throughout the US and in several countries to carry out in-depth studies on key conservation concerns, develop innovative approaches to advance conservation practice, provide education programs to develop the conservation leaders of tomorrow, and conduct conferences that help shape future conservation policy.  This work is made possible by contributions from private donors through the Pinchot Associates program, through major support from foundations and other organizations committed to environmental and natural resource conservation, and through its ongoing partnership with the USDA Forest Service.  The Pinchot Institute has offices at Grey Towers and in Washington, DC, and continues to work in partnership with the Forest Service at Grey Towers and at other locations across the country on issues involving the National Forests, State & Private Forestry, Research & Development, and International Programs. The Pinchot Institute also works in cooperation with universities, government agencies, and other conservation organizations in the US and abroad to support sound environmental and natural resource policy and address ongoing challenges in environmental sustainability.

Additional resources:

Sample, V. Alaric. The Pinchot Institute at 50: A Brief History [Download pdf]

President John F. Kennedy’s speech at the dedication of Grey Towers in 1963, from the US Forest Service History Collection. [Download pdf]

Pinchot, Peter. "Remarks at the 30th Anniversary of the Pinchot Institute." The Conservation Legacy, 1995. [Download pdf]

Sample, V. Alaric and Char Miller, "A Transformative Place: Grey Towers and the Evolution of American Conservationism." Journal of Forestry, Vol. 103, No. 5, July/August 2005. [Download pdf]

Grey Towers National Historic Site Act (P.L. 108-447) [Download pdf]

Web resources:

The Pinchot Institute for Conservation and Grey Towers  [Forest History Society]

Grey Towers National Historic Site [USDA Forest Service]

Video of President John F. Kennedy's dedication at Grey Towers [click here]

Video Tour of Grey Towers National Historic Site [click here]

Grey Towers National Historic Site Support Our Work Best in America