Documenting the American South

The Digital Blue Ridge Parkway

Oral History Interview with Dan Pittillo, February 24, 2004

Transcript (19 p.) PDF
Complete Audio File (MP3 format / ca. 129 MB, 01:10:35) MP3
Abstract In this interview at Western Carolina University's Hunter Library, Dan Pittillo discusses his training in botany and his work as an ecologist while working for the National Park Service's Blue Ridge Parkway.

Pittillo describes growing up in Hendersonville, N. C. following the Great Depression, his early interest in botany, and his educational path leading to the completion of his doctorate from the University of Georgia in 1966. He discusses meeting his wife at the University of Georgia, her educational background, and their family life in the late 1960s. Also discussed is Pittillo's involvement in the field of ecology during the mid-1960s.

The remainder of the interview details Pittillo's involvement in the Blue Ridge Parkway project and his concern for ecological issues in the parkway's planning and management. Pittillo discusses Western Carolina University's Biology Department and Panthertown; his involvement in planning of the Georgia Extension; the Pisgah area and the endangerment of its oak forest; and his thoughts regarding the Blue Ridge Parkway's long range development and management plan. Pittillo's opinions regarding the Blue Ridge Parkway as a narrow road compared to larger parks within the National Park Service system are also represented. Discussion also includes protection and management of the Blue Ridge Parkway to enhance the traveler's experience; the importance of educating visitors driving the Blue Ridge Parkway; and the role of park rangers in this visitor education process. Pittillo ends the interview by describing the importance of local interpreters of plant life and wildlife for creating visual meaning for parkway visitors; and discusses why some interpretive programs have not been successful.
Date February 24, 2004
Interviewee Pittillo, J. Daniel
Interviewee occupation Botonist
Interviewee DOB October 25, 1938
Interviewer Coyle, Philip E.
Subject Forest conservation
Parkway planning