9/13/17 – The “10 a.m. Policy”: The U.S. Forest Service and Wildfire Suppression

In last week’s blog, I wrote about the history of lookouts (LO) as the early indicators of the agency’s aggressive fire suppression policy. This week, I explain how the LOs comprised but one element in the U.S. Forest Service’s policy of total fire suppression that culminated in overgrown forests – tinderboxes – primed to burn… Read the Rest »

9/7/17 – The Lookouts: Sentinels of the Woodland Empire

The Lookout Way above the forests, that are in my care, Watching for the curling smoke – looking everywhere, Tied onto the world below by a telephone, High, and sometimes lonesome – living here alone, Snow peaks on the skyline, woods and rocky ground, The green of Alpine meadows circle me around, Waves of mountain… Read the Rest »

2/22/17 – “Let’s Go for a Drive”

During recent public history project research, I stumbled across an article and photographs by Otto M. Jones published in the Idaho Daily Statesman in 1919. The article described the “arduous task” of travelling “steep winding grades that are not inducive [sic] of much speed or tempered with any degree of safety or security.”[1] The accompanying… Read the Rest »

5/27/15 – 100 Years of Town Forests

This year, Vermont is celebrating 100 years of town forests. Town forests are just that – tracts of forest managed by the town, something that sounds so simple that it’s easy to forget their significance. I have fond memories of tromping through our town forest growing up in Ferrisburgh; it is on Shellhouse Mountain, a… Read the Rest »

11/5/14 – State Lands for Schools

Part of the allure of the archives is that you never know what you might uncover. Not too long ago, SHRA researchers stumbled across a January 1941 letter from Idaho State Forester Franklin Girard. While the letter was of little consequence, Girard’s evocative letterhead pitted contrasting images of lush forests against fire riddled stumps. Even… Read the Rest »

10/8/14 – Gila Wilderness

On October 2, 1922, Aldo Leopold penned a plea for the preservation of a wilderness area in New Mexico. As a U.S. Forest Service employee stationed in the Land of Enchantment, Leopold lamented the loss of areas fit for wilderness designation that recently had been lost to the rise of automobiles. In his plea, he… Read the Rest »

10/6/14 – Current Troubles with Wilderness

As we honor the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Wilderness Act, it is easy to celebrate the habitats, wild places, and recreational opportunities that it has protected. But it is also important to consider all sides of wilderness and wilderness conservation. In his well-known 1995 essay “The Trouble with Wilderness,” William Cronon tackles the idea… Read the Rest »

9/26/14 – Wilderness Cartoon, 1962-1963

  This cartoon,[i] originally printed in the Washington Daily News, was reprinted in the winter of 1962-63 in Living Wilderness, the publication of the Wilderness Society. As conservationists fought to pass the Wilderness Act, the issue of wilderness and wilderness conservation became part of mainstream conversations and media coverage. When Congress passed the law in… Read the Rest »

9/26/14 – Wilderness Areas, 1964-2014

When Congress first created the National Wilderness Preservation System in September 1964, (1) they protected nine million acres of National Forest. On this 1964 map, which was published in the Wilderness Society’s magazine The Living Wilderness, stars represent those first federally designated wilderness areas. The other icons denote potential wilderness areas, foreshadowing the tremendous growth… Read the Rest »

9/12/14 – From Clearcuts to Ecosystem Management: The Forest Service and the Environmental Movement

Editor’s note: This is the fourth installment in a blog series on the history of the national forests by SHRA environmental analyst/researcher Naomi Heindel. Links to the previous blogs in the series are here, here, and here. This installment examines the rise of the environmental movement, the Forest Service’s continued reliance on clearcutting, and the… Read the Rest »

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