The Founding of the National Forests

This week, we’re returning to Chronicling America to highlight a 1907 front page article from the National Tribune of Washington, D.C., reporting the creation and extension of the U.S. National Forest system.

It is interesting to note the environmental consciousness expressed in this piece.  Cautionary lessons drawn from the deforestation of the Old World are cited, and “avaricious and unscrupulous timber grabbers” are railed against.  The story editorializes in favor of government intervention, not only to protect the woodlands and waterways of the West, but also to insure that all the Forests’ resources–including agricultural land, grazing and mineral rights–are fairly allocated and utilized in a wise way.  In the first decade of the 20th Century, the concepts of environmental protection and economic development often went hand-in-hand.

Map showing initial boundaries of Oregon's National Forests, from the National Tribune, March 14, 1907

Of course, Oregon receives a good deal of coverage in this article, as our state boasted no less than eight of the new National Forests: Ashland, Cascade, Coquille, Imnaha, Siskiyou, Tillamook, Umpqua and Wenaha.  The topography and resource profile of each of these Forests at the time of their founding is described in good detail.  The article is also well-illustrated with etchings of the U.S. Forest Service badge, a ranger’s cabin, and a man at work marking timber for cutting.

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