Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - 17

ChAptEr 2

A History of Conservation in the United States

FOrESt MAnAGEMEnt
Probably the earliest recorded timber shortage occurred in China about 5,000
years ago. The Egyptians experienced a shortage of timber about 4,000 years ago.
The Romans had to import wood from their conquered lands before the birth
of Christ. By AD 1000, central Europeans were running out of wood, and strict
regulations were needed to preserve timber.
In 1626, Plymouth Colony passed America's first ordinance controlling the
sale of timber. By 1650, several of the colonies had passed laws against burning
of the forests. These attempts, however, were the exception and not the rule in
our early history. More often than not, our forests were seen as endless, as a gift
from God for us to exploit.
In the late 1700s and early 1800s, the U.S. forest preservation effort centered
on saving live oaks for use in building ships. In fact, the efforts were for military purposes and not for forest conservation. With the advent of ironclad ships
during the Civil War, that interest ended. Even though a tree species was being
protected, forest conservation was not the motive. It had been merely an attempt
to prevent the live oaks from being cut for nonmilitary uses.
The forests of the United States produced about a billion board feet of lumber in 1840. That grew to 35 billion board feet in 1869 and 46 billion board feet
in 1906. During the period of settlement of this country, land grants were made
to individuals and companies. Forests were harvested to pay for other enterprises,
or they were simply cleared and burned to make way for farming. Forest use for
developing our nation was essential, but such wasteful exploitation was certainly
a great tragedy.
The American Forestry Association was organized in 1875 to promote
timber culture and forestry. A year later, a forestry agent was appointed to the
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The forestry office became
the Division of Forestry of the USDA in 1881.
A decade later, in 1891, Congress authorized the creation of forest reserves
from public-owned land. By 1900, 33 million acres of forest reserves had been
set aside in the western states. These areas were controlled under the Department
of the Interior.
Gifford Pinchot became head of the USDA's Forestry Division in 1898.
Under his leadership, and with President Theodore Roosevelt's backing, the
Division of Forestry was upgraded to bureau status and became the United
States Forest Service in 1905. Also in 1905, the forest reserves were transferred
from the Department of Interior to Pinchot's control in the Forest Service.
The reserves were renamed national forests at that time. Pinchot is generally
considered one of the leading influences in the development of our system of
national forests. Together, Pinchot and Roosevelt greatly expanded the national
forest system. The United States Forest Service's national forest system covered
182 million acres in 1983. During the administration of President Ronald
Reagan, large parcels of national forestland were sold to private landowners.
In 2006 and again in 2007, President George W. Bush proposed selling over
300,000 acres of national forest. Extreme pressure from environmental groups
prevented most of the sales.
The Weeks Law of 1911 gave the president authority to purchase forestlands
for river watershed protection. This officially linked forestry with soil and water
conservation as well as navigable waterway transportation and flood control.
Certainly, this connection was far-reaching in its effects. Also under this legislation, forest fire prevention and control measures were authorized.

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp

Contents
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - Cover1
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - Cover2
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - i
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - ii
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - iii
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - iv
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - v
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - Contents
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - vii
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - viii
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - ix
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - x
Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - xi
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Managing Our Natural Resources, 6e, Camp - Cover4
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