NWF organized and led the four-member team of independent SmartWood auditors who spent a week assessing the forest’s management activities through site visits, consultation with stakeholders familiar with the Park's forest management programs, and review of management plans and maps. The Scientific Forest Management Area had to meet more than 50 rigorous SmartWood program criteria, which are used to certify forests that are managed for long-term ecological, social, and economic health. For example, forest managers must show that they protect streams and wetlands and conserve fragile or uncommon wildlife, including endangered species, when undertaking management activities. The certified forest acreage comprises just 14% of the Park’s overall size of 204,733 acres.
The Park itself was created in 1955 and Governor Percival Baxter claimed the Scientific Forest Management Area as a place “that will be available for both recreation and scientific forest management" and should be “a showplace for those interested in forestry...an example and inspiration to others."