This past Friday, I came together with family and dear friends and colleagues to celebrate the life of my dad, David Bischel, who passed away on April 25, 2019. My dad approached life with humility and a sense of humor, always full of funny stories about his adventures in the woods. His character and values shined through in his interactions with others. He deeply valued his friendships, which he kept for his entire life. His friend and colleague Chris Nance remembered my dad saying, “Foresters manage their lands like their friendships — for centuries at a time.”
In college, my dad pursued his love of the outdoors, graduating with a B.S. in Renewable Natural Resources with an emphasis in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology from the University of California, Davis. He was a member of the Theta Chi Fraternity and a tight end for the UC Davis Aggies football team for four years. He fostered his lifelong passion for forestry and Cal Bears football at the University of California, Berkeley, where he obtained a second B.S. in Forestry and Conservation.
My dad was a true steward of forestry and conservation with a 44-year career dedicated to forest management and sustainability. He was forestry manager for Southern Pacific Land Company’s 220,000-acre Mt. Shasta District, a job that brought he and my mom to Mt. Shasta where I was born. We later moved to Auburn, where he worked for a biofuels energy facility. For 22 years he served as the president and chief executive officer of the California Forestry Association (CalForests). He was highly respected by his peers and considered a gentle giant of the forestry industry by many. He served in a leadership capacity with many professional and community organizations including Chairman of the National Forest Industry Associations Council, President of the California Licensed Foresters Association, and Chairman of the Northern California Society of American Foresters. He also served as Chairman of the National Council of Forestry Association Executives and the Executive Officer of the California State Board of Forestry’s Professional Foresters Licensing Program. He was most recently a member of the Board of Directors of the California Fire Safe Council and the Pacific Watershed Lands Stewardship Council, and a member of the National Forest Industry Labor-Management Committee’s Board of Trustees.
My dad was recognized through many awards and honors. Perhaps his greatest honor, however, was the impact he left on our forests. Mark Rentz, President and Founder of Integrated Natural Resources Management, stated, “As a fellow foresters we always understood that what we contributed to making our forests healthy and sustainable would long outlive us. This is Dave’s legacy.”
His full obituary is available here. A tribute from the California Fire Safe Council is available here. The California State Assembly closed with a tribute to my dad on April 29, 2019. District 5 Assemblyman Frank Bigelow and District 1 Assemblyman Brian Dahle spoke on his behalf.