Nearly one-quarter of America is covered with forests almost 800 million acres. There are 151 national forests, comprising close to 200 million acres in thirty-nine states and Puerto Rico. These protected lands are administered by the U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the Department of Agriculture. David Clary here examines the history of and controversies surrounding the Forest Services policies for timber management in our national forests. In this first in-depth study of the political, bureaucratic, social, and ideological relationships between the Forest Service and the production of timber, Clary traces the continuity in the agency's outlook from its creation in 1905 through fears of a timber famine to the clear-cutting controversies of the mid 1970s. He shows convincingly that, despite legislative remedies and agency reports, timber production has remained the agency's first priority and that other (multiple uses recreation, watershed protection, wilderness, livestock grazing, and wildlife management were regulated so that they would not interfere with potential timber harvests. Throughout its history, the agency is shown to have been enchanted with the objective of producing timber. Clary's theme, in what he describes as an administrative, political, scientific, and anecdotal history, is that the Forest Service exhibited consistent actions and attitudes over the years and failed to confront realistically changes in the national culture that altered what the American people wanted from the forests and the Forest Service.
David A. Clary, former chief historian of the US Forest Service, is the author or coauthor of several books on American history, including The Place Where Hell Bubbled Up: A History of the First National Park and Adopted Son: Washington, Lafayette, and the Friendship That Saved the Revolution.
This Kansas Open Books title is funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Humanities Open Book Program.