West, A. Joshua
Forests and National Security, British and American Forestry Policy in the Wake of World War I
Environmental History, Vol. 8, #2, April, 2003, pp. 270-293
Am. Soc. for Environmental History and the Forest History Soc.
Durham, NC
Original Date
Relates forest policy to American and British experiences in World War I. It contains these paragraphs which are an excellent summary of the forest policy disputes in the first decades of the 20th century: "The development of U.S. forestry policy during the 1920s was dominated by the conflict between Greeley’s Forest Service and Pinchot’s Society of American Foresters (SAF), with both sides continuously jockeying for congressional backing. Like Graves and Greeley, Pinchot had seized on the war experience to push his agenda. In 1919, immediately after the war, he chaired an SAF Committee for the Application of Forestry, which issued an influential report concluding that 'only federal control of cutting on private land could assure the Nation the supply of forest products it must have to prosper.' Pinchot’s committee justified federal regulation based on the threat of an imminent timber famine in America, a concern that had motivated dynamic federal policy making during the late nineteenth century. While Greeley viewed high market prices of timber as an industrial necessity, Pinchot feared that they signaled an impending crisis that could only be averted by ending destructive harvesting and fire on private lands. "On the whole, Congress and the American public were not entirely convinced by the threat of a timber crisis in the postwar era. and despite his political maneuvering, Pinchot was never able to pass the regulatory legislation he favored. With support from his allies in Congress, he did manage to block early bills orchestrated by the Forest Service, and to some extent, as forestry policy expert Paul Ellefson writes, “the 1920s struggle ... reached a stalemate.' However, Greeley’s ultimate triumph came in persuading congress to avoid the regulatory issue and pass legislation, in the form ot the Clarke-McNar'y Act of 1924, which established a de facto cooperative policy tor fire control. reforestation, education, and land acquisition. This was followed by the McSweeney-McNary Forest Research Act of 1928, which established new research programs at the Forest service and provided for a comprehensive nationwide survey of all forested lands. By the end of the 1920s, Congress had passed legislation that realized the core elements of Greeley’s vision as articulated in his 1914 Forest service report. in the words of historian Michael Williams, the 1920s ended up being 'full of positive. if unspectacular, policies that were eventually to lead to real progress in forest regulation, protection, and use ... [as] Greeley pushed his policies of cooperation and protection.'"