In 1899 the Minnesota Legislature created a nineman State Forestry Board with the sole authority to manage state lands for forestry purposes. The 1910 fire disasters, including the Baudette-Spooner fire that killed 42 people, impelled the Legislature in 1911 to completely revise state forest conservation efforts. The Board centralized the responsibility for both forest management and forest fire control, and created the office of the State Forester. Later, this became the impetus for the development of the Minnesota Forest Service.
The 1911 act that established the Minnesota Forest Service authorized the Forestry Board to appoint as State Forester a technically trained forester, who would have power to appoint an assistant forester and other needed employees...(Laws 1911 Chapter 125 pdf). The first appointment went to William T. Cox. The assistant forester, by law, was to be an honor graduate of a forestry school. The job went to Dillon P. Tierney, a classmate of Cox and a 1906 graduate of the University of Minnesota.
The Forestry Board's annual report states "On May 2, 1911, the Board appointed a State Forester, Mr. William T. Cox. Mr. Cox received his forestry education at the University of Minnesota and had been in the United States Forest Service several years, and for last three years occupied the position of assistant forester. Both Mr. Cox and Mr. Tierney have had several years of experience in woods work, and Mr. Cox's work with the federal government gave him a wide acquaintance with forest conditions throughout the United States and Canada. Both of these officers have been actively occupied in the discharge of their duties, and the Board believes the Forest Service is on a good footing."