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Carol Forrest, IECA Director, Dies During Expedition

Carol Forrest, an expert in erosion control and related issues, was killed in a helicopter crash off the coast of Oregon.

It is a wonder that Carol Forrest, International Erosion Control Association Board Director, ever found time to sleep. Reading through the titles she held, committees she was a part of, articles and manuals she authored (she contributed articles on erosion control to Landscape Architect and Specifier News during its early years of publication) is truly remarkable. Her colleagues describe her as a mentor and a luminary in her field. In addition to her seemingly endless list of professional endeavors, Carol was also a mother of two, a wife, licensed helicopter pilot and scuba diver.

Tragically, on August 13, Carol's life ended when the helicopter she was reportedly co-piloting crashed off the coast of northern Oregon in heavy morning fog. Pilot Petor Friedrick Simpson and cameraman Michael Todd Lilburn, both from San Diego, were also killed. The trio was part of the "Flight of Discovery" project, retracing and photographing the route of the Lewis and Clark expedition across the American Northwest.

Carol was the logistics director for the Flight of Discovery. Her husband, Michael Harding, is the expedition leader. Four year ago Michael became inspired to follow the explorer's trail. His goal was to draw attention to long-term environmental changes in the western United States, such as degraded water quality in many of the region's rivers. Along the way, the group planned to meet with students, teachers, Native Americans and Lewis and Clark enthusiasts.

"Carol was so excited about this project," said Tammy Blackburn, San Diego State University (SDSU) alumni association associate director. Blackburn recently discussed the project with Carol and her husband a few weeks ago following an event for the university.

Carol was also a volunteer for CPESC, Inc., serving as chair of the Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control Council and to her alma mater SDSU, where she earned two civil engineering degrees and helped develop a state-of-the-art soil erosion research laboratory.

"Carol was an amazing volunteer and a strong board member who inspired so many people with her generosity," said Jim Herrick, SDSU alumni association executive director.

In addition to being an instructor for the IECA, Carol donated a tremendous amount of time to the association, most recently serving as technical vice president on the board of directors and as a member of the professional development committee.

"I know that I am not the only one who looked to her as a mentor," said Sandy Mathews of the IECA Western Chapter. "She was a support as I fledged as a professional in this field and she remained my sounding board for ideas and initiatives and was a model for my professional development."

An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the crash, although it is suspected that bad weather was a contributing factor.

To view comments left by Carol's friends and colleagues at the IECA, visit

Sources: The San Diego Union-Tribune,, SDS Universe

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June 18, 2019, 6:39 pm PDT

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