The National Forests of the Northern Region
Living Legacy—


At the September 1989 celebration in Helena of the 100th Anniversary of the admission of Montana, Washington, North Dakota, and South Dakota to the Union, President George Bush said that once "where man sought the treasure that lay beneath the Earth. And today it's the land itself we treasure—a living legacy we must preserve and pass along." The national forests of the USDA Forest Service Northern Region are a living legacy of the American people.

We have attempted to distill the essential elements of the "history as it happened" in the Northern Region and to present an informative, readable, accurate, and interesting story of the people and events. This history should help foster a better understanding among foresters of their work and mission. Hopefully, the interested public and diverse users of national forest resources will more fully comprehend the work of the Forest Service and its living legacy that is encompassed by the national forests of the Northern Region.

This history begins with the inception of the Forest Service's operations in the Northern Region. It then traces the social and economic development of the States most directly associated with the Northern Region and examines the historical changes that have occurred during the eight decades of direct Forest Service administration, from 1908 to 1988. The authors have concentrated on the changing aspects of resource management by the Forest Service.

The authors also sought to provide some insight into the hearts and minds of those who have managed the forests and, to some extent, to explain the needs and perceptions of those who use the Northern Region's forest resources. Region 1 provides a particularly vital and vivid historical model, representing changing needs and uses and the response by a large Federal agency whose charge from the start has been to conserve and manage forest resources for present and future generations.The trust and responsibility for the management of those lands has been well placed. The foresters of the Northern Region have energetically and zealously sought to administer those lands to best serve the largest number of people in the wise use of those resources—not an easy task. Thus, the history here necessarily contains discussions that are controversial, but the reader should find the story informative and certainly interesting.

Although this history was completed under a USDA Forest History Unit contract that provided general guidelines as to the structure and length of the book, the authors were allowed to research and write the history as they determined it to be based on their research into archival, documentary, and secondary sources. They also benefited from numerous interviews, critiques of the Northern Region Retirees History Advisory Committee, and many letters and notes received from retired forestry personnel. This work is firmly based on documentary and primary sources, but the authors accept responsibility for those errors that may occur and for any omissions and perceived misconstructions. Four of the authors are historians, and one is a professor of forest science. All are published scholars and have previous experience in writing forest, timber, and regional history. Dr. Larry Burt, now head of the Division of Business and Social Sciences at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, began the project as a professor of history at Northern Montana in Havre, Montana. He authored Tribalism in Crisis: Federal Indian Policy, 1953-1961, Montana history, and was Assistant Director of the American West Center. Robert D. Baker, professor of forest science at Texas A&M University, specializes in forest inventories, sampling, and aerial and satellite remote sensing as they relate especially to tax and management initiatives. He is coauthor of Timeless Heritage: A History of the Forest Service in the Southwest and, with Dr. Robert S. Maxwell, coauthor of Sawdust Empire. Dr. Robert S. Maxwell, professor emeritus at Stephen F. Austin State University, specializes in the history of the timber industry and forestry. He is coauthor of Timeless Heritage and This Well-Wooded Land, among other publications. Victor H. Treat is associate professor of history at Texas A&M University; he specializes in regional and natural history. He also is a coauthor of Timeless Heritage. Henry C. Dethloff specializes in business and economic history. He is a coauthor of Timeless Heritage, A History of American Business, Americans and Free Enterprise, and other publications.

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Last Updated: 10-Sep-2008