Herman Baggenstoss, conservationist, was a native of Grundy County, the son of Swiss settlers who founded the Dutch-Maid Bakery in Tracy City in 1903. An alumnus of the University of the South, Baggenstoss served as superintendent of the Civilian Conservation Corps Grundy Camp P-62 at Tracy City in the 1930s, taking part in the establishment of Grundy State Forest, Grundy Lakes, and the Fiery Gizzard Creek hiking trail.
One of the founders of the Tennessee Federation of Sportsmen in 1934, Baggenstoss became its executive secretary in 1936 and began the bulletin “Turkey Feathers, Boar Bristles and Fish Fins.” Renamed Tennessee Wildlife magazine in 1937, the publication became The Tennessee Conservationist in 1939. In 1939 Baggenstoss was also instrumental in the creation of the Conservation Commission to advise the Tennessee Department of Conservation. In 1940 he resigned from the Federation and served in the Seabees during World War II.
In 1946 Baggenstoss was a founding member of the Tennessee Conservation League. Continuing his work in forestry, Baggenstoss and his wife Mary Elizabeth also purchased the Grundy County Herald, which they published for twenty years. Baggenstoss became nationally known for his environmental advocacy and served as president of the American Forest Association, Forest Farmers Association, “Keep Tennessee Green,” and Tennessee Outdoor Writers Association. Baggenstoss was appointed to the first state Board of Reclamation, overseeing the renewal of strip mine sites. He also served on the first Tennessee Forestry Commission.
Baggenstoss is credited as the driving force for the establishment of the South Cumberland State Recreation Area, which includes Grundy Forest, Fiery Gizzard, Stone Door, and Savage Gulf in Grundy County and Natural Bridge and Buggy Top Cave in Franklin County. His work received many awards, including those from the National Conservation Resource Society, Soil Conservation Society of America, and U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, for his role in the establishment of the U.S. Forest Service research lab at Sewanee. His dedication continued through the weeks prior to his death in 1992, as he opposed chip mills on the Tennessee River.