THE EASTERN FORESTS
History has not dealt kindly with the eastern forests of the United States. Much of what Alexis de Tocqueville once called in the 1820's a "sea of leaves" has been replaced by farms, cities, and broad highways. There are still forests in the East162.4 million acres of forested landsbut major parts of what was once a vast empire of hardwood forest are gone forever. Of the remaining forests, only 8.49 million acres are today in National Forests. A similar situation exists with rangeland in the Eastern Region. With 1.8 million acres of rangeland in the Region, mostly in Missouri, only about 65,000 acres are on National Forests. While National Forest lands represent such a small part of the land in the Eastern Region, they are the largest blocks of singly owned and managed land in the East. 
In 1907, a special report by the Secretary of Agriculture on the eastern forests raised concerns about the problems of the eastern forests. At that time, the eastern forests had been largely cut-over, there were terrible forest fires, and there had been serious floods on rivers in New England, the Ohio Valley and elsewhere. 
Fire in the Eastern Forests
Fire on the North American continent is an ancient phenomenon. In the original forest wilderness, fire probably followed weather cycles, with great conflagrations in drought periods. There is evidence in the form of scars on great trees in California of prehistoric fires in the years 1245, 1441, 1580, and 1797; in Colorado in the years 1676, 1707, 1722, 1753, and 1781; and in the region south of Mount Katahdin, Maine, evidence has been found of an extensive fire in 1795. There are records by early New Englanders of "dark days" caused by heavy smoke due to extensive fires on May 12, 1706, and May 19, 1780. A number of 18th century explorers mention forest fires in their travel accounts of the continent, often speaking of them as "Acts of God" which regularly occurred during dry seasons. Lightning surely caused some fires, just as we can safely surmise that Indians occasionally set fires either accidentally or to drive game or fight enemies. 
Natural fire played an important role in creating and sustaining the American landscape. Certain species of trees such as the Pacific Coast chaparral require periodic burns to remove competing timber species. Certain species of hardwoods can only reproduce successfully in conditions like those created in the years after a forest fire. It is also true that the great prairies of Illinois were in constant competition with the timber surrounding it. Ecologists believe that "only prairie fires and the resulting herds of buffalo can explain the perpetuation of the vast prairies. But these fires in the wilderness state of the continent occurred at long intervals and were part of the natural cycle of the land." 
When early settlers came to the East, their first job had to be the clearing of land. Dense virgin forests were the greatest obstacle to the establishment of a farming economy. With only primitive tools, the process of girdling, felling, and sawing trees was long, slow, and hard work. Since there was an ample supply of wood for building and fuel, most of the felled trees were simply set afire. Amidst the burned stumps corn could be planted. "It was all a part of the job of taming the wilderness and 'burning the woods' that easily became a part of the pioneer psychology."  As a tradition, the idea of using fire as a good way to clear farm land remained a difficult one to dispel from the American mind.
It was not until the settlers were pushing westward to the treeless prairies that Americans began to realize how spoiled they had been in terms of a timber supply and how carefully they should guard their wood resources. In this same period, 1850-1890, communities in the East and Great Lakes regions were made painfully aware of the destruction to life and property caused by fire. The Peshtigo Fire mentioned earlier burned 1,280,000 acres and caused 1,500 deaths. Another million acres burned in Michigan in 1881. Two huge fires in 1894 near Hinckley, Minnesota, and Phillips, Wisconsin claimed 431 lives and destroyed much forest land.
An understanding of the forests as an endangered resource had begun to emerge and was reflected in the 1873 Timber Culture Act, but this had no effect on preventing or controlling fires in the East. In Wisconsin alone, during the 1880's, 2,500 separate fires burned an average of 500,000 acres each year.  What was needed was an education policy and a federal agency to manage the publicly owned land.
Not until 1897, when Congress provided for the administration of the Forest Reserves, was any serious effort made to control forest fires as a part of forest land management. When Pinchot was pushing for the addition of more land to the National Forest Reserves, he also recommended "exerting every effort to gain the good will of those living on or near the Reserves, for their help would be essential in fighting and preventing forest fires."  Those who were Forest Service permittees in grazing, timber, or power were obligated to fight fires without compensation whenever their permit area was threatened. In fact, officials often listed fire protection as a major justification for issuing permits.  In the early publications by the fledgling Forest Service, fire protection was pointed to as the first duty of the agency. 
In 1910, a series of disastrous fires claimed the lives of 78 fire fighters and burned more than $25 million in timber on National Forest lands alone.  It was for the fiscal year 1911 that Congress first appropriated money directly related to forest fire control  "For fighting forest fires and for other unforeseen emergencies, $135,000." This amount was increased to $150,000 the next year  of which $70,000 was made "immediately available," and an additional $1 million was provided "for fighting and preventing forest fires in cases of extraordinary emergency." These "extraordinary emergency" appropriations were a direct result of the 1910 great fires. 
Concerns over flooding, erosion, and forest fires led Congress in 1911 to pass the Weeks Act. This law had a profound effect on the history of Region 9 and the Forest Service. The Weeks Act had many advocates and rose from a need obvious to many individuals and groups in the East. Its author, U.S. Representative John Weeks, told the Forest Society in 1915, "It was not passed by one man or any half dozen men." But a large part of the initial impetus for passage seems to have come as a result of what had happened in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. In the late 1880's, devastating fires swept through the Zealand Valley at the headwaters of the Pemigewasset River. About the same time, the Crawford Notch area was clearcut without replanting, resulting in terrible erosion. In 1889, the New Hampshire Forestry Commission issued a warning that deforestation was having a disastrous economic effect on the 1,100 summer inns and hotels of the White Mountains, a $5 million annual industry. Newspapers in New York City and Boston, home cities of many of the seasonal visitors to the White Mountains, began to call on New Hampshire to do something to save its forests.
In 1896, serious flooding on the lower Merrimack River was made worse by excessive tree cutting on the headwaters of the Merrimack and Pemigewasset Rivers in the White Mountains. The flooding caused the closing of the Amoskeag Cotton Mills in Manchester, the largest cotton mill in the nation. Some 6,000 workers had to be laid off. But this was an era of laissez faire and politicians and the public were reluctant to interfere in what was considered inviolable private property.
Often in situations like this, what is needed is an intellectual shock or a publicity effort to goad politicians and the public to action, even when there is a recognized need. In the White Mountains situation, it took the writings of an Episcopal Minister named John E. Johnson to bring matters to a head. In a 1900 pamphlet which today seems heavy-handed, Reverend Johnson passed over dry statistics about deforestation and put things in very human terms. He gave the public a villain, the New Hampshire Land Company, one of the leading timber companies in New England. He accused the Company of a policy of "refrigeration," that is, of driving the native New Englanders off the land by the simple method of starving them out. Johnson charged that by controlling the local logging industry and refusing to sell wooded land to local farmers who derived a significant part of their income from logging, the Company was reducing their incomes and chances for employment to the point where they could no longer survive on the land and had to sell out to the Company. As it tightened its control over the forests, the Company, according to Johnson, refused to sell land for inns and resorts, thus crippling the important tourist and resort industry. Johnson charged that the Company had sold the whole town of North Woodstock to a pulp mill "as though they (the people) were so many serfs or slaves and went with the land as a matter of courselike a Southern plantation before the war . . ." 
Reverend Johnson's attack was clearly in the tradition of the writers of the day who were known as "muck-rakers," and like much of this sensational and reform oriented writing, it was quite effective. The Governor of New Hampshire, responding to the outcry, urged the legislature to buy the White Mountains and make it a public park, but still the general public was not ready to act. Wider support was needed. This came from an article in The New England Homesteads an agricultural magazine read throughout New England. The article featured three photographs of dilapidated wood slab houses at Thornton Gore, where about 30 hill families lived trying to scratch out a living from the rocky land and forests. The families were all that remained of a village that had once been reasonably prosperous. The New Hampshire Land Company was buying out the landowners one by one, and soon there would be nothing but a ghost town at Thornton Gore. The Homestead article said that what was happening at Thornton Gore illustrated the "refrigeration" policy of the New Hampshire Land Company. The article proposed the formation of a White Mountains Forestry Association to do something about the situation. It asked its readers to write in immediately to support the idea.  Letters poured in from all over New England. In January and February of 1901, meetings were held in Concord, New Hampshire, between Reverend Johnson and other state and New England leaders to form the proposed organization. Their work resulted in the Society For the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, first headed by Frank Rollins, Governor of New Hampshire. The Society is still active and recently celebrated its 75th anniversary.
One of the first acts of the new Society was to hire a forester, Philip Ayres. Ayres was not a trained forester but rather a historian, organizer, and public speaker. Ayres spent his first year fact finding in the White Mountains. He was appalled by what he sawloggers cutting the spruce trees, some of them 200 years old, and leaving them on the ground so larger trees could be rolled over them to the logging roads and rail sidings. Ayres took pictures of one 240-year-old tree which had been felled for this purpose and showed them to women's clubs, Grange Halls, and teachers' meetings throughout New England. Ayres also talked with the managers of the timber companies. He found that while they regretted the wasteful practices, they were convinced they had to continue them in order to show a profit in their highly competitive industry. Ayres concluded that the only solution was state or federal action.
Since New Hampshire had a small tax base and could obviously not afford the cost of saving the White Mountains forests, the Society turned to Congress in 1903 for help. Meanwhile, Ayres kept a careful journal of the damage done by forest fires in the statetowns encircled by fire, mills closed, and smoke and ash covering wide areas. In June, Senator Jacob H. Gallinger of New Hampshire introduced a bill in Congress to purchase a Forest Reserve in the White Mountains.
The Congressional reaction to Gallinger's Bill was negative. In the House of Representatives, Speaker Joseph Cannon denounced the bill, saying "not one cent for scenery."  Western senators and representatives, smarting under the creation of Forest Reserves and parks in their states which they believed impeded economic development, followed Cannon in opposing the idea of creating a Forest Reserve in New Hampshire. They were joined by eastern senators and representatives who were strongly dedicated to the principles of free enterprise. They believed that it was unconstitutional for the federal government to purchase land from private owners for the purpose of creating a Forest Reserve and protecting natural scenery. Many of them were equally opposed to the government interfering with business, in this case the logging industry in New Hampshire.
The attitudes in Congress, while they may seem hopelessly reactionary and outdated today, were not far from the political consensus of the day. They may not have represented the true opinions of the general public, but this was not an era in which true public opinions counted for much, and matters were decided by politics. Business and banking interests had a strong voice in Congress, especially in the Senate, and the political reforms of the Progressive Movement, which eventually democratized the system considerably, were still a few years in the future. The Conservation Movement was already under way and indeed was behind ideas such as the New Hampshire Forest Reserve, but it was not yet strong enough among the general public and certainly not in Congress to gain passage of the measure.
The Gallinger Bill languished in Congress for three years. Finally, in 1906, Senator Frank B. Brandegee of Massachusetts worked a deal with southern senators who wanted a Forest Reserve in the Appalachians, to gain passage of a modest measure to fund a survey of the eastern mountain forest areas. During these years, Philip Ayres lobbied tirelessly in New England and throughout the nation. He gained endorsements from governors, women's organizations, conservation groups, and civic clubs. The reform-minded press, especially Colliers Magazine a leading publisher of muck raker literature, took up the cause. Colliers, blamed Speaker Cannon for defeating the Forest Reserve bills in one Congressional hearing after another.
In New Hampshire, public sentiment was clearly on the rise. It was stimulated not only by the publicity and the activities of the Society For the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, but by the worsening threat to the forests. Logging crept higher and higher in the White Mountains, forest fires and flooding continued, and Ayres saw to it that the public was made increasingly aware of these developments. In 1909, when 11,500 acres of timber land in the Crawford's Notch area went on sale, New Hampshire citizens began a fund raising campaign to buy it and make a State Forest Reserve.
Speaker Cannon, perhaps feeling some political heat, made a concessionary move. He appointed to the House Committee on Agriculture Rep. John Weeks, a Boston banker serving his second term in Congress. Weeks was not pleased with the appointment and complained to Cannon that he expected to be put on the Banking or Finance Committees and had few farmers in his district. Cannon's answer was that he wanted someone with a good head for fiscal responsibility on the Agriculture Committee. Weeks, who was born in Lancaster, New Hampshire, and summered each year with his family at their home on Mt. Prospect, then told Cannon that he had a deep interest in Forest Reserves including the White Mountains. Cannon, who probably knew this already, told Weeks that if he could come up with a forest bill acceptable to a businessman, he would support it as Speaker. In the Congress of that day, those words from Cannon were tantamount to passage of a bill. 
The following year, 1908, Weeks introduced a bill which did not mention the White Mountains or the Appalachians. It authorized Congress to appropriate money to purchase Forest Reserves for "the conservation land improvement of the navigability of a river." Later, Weeks explained this stratagem: "It was a slender thread but it was sufficient, and no constitutional lawyer has been able to upset the theory on which the bill was framed." By that he meant that although it might be constitutionally questionable for the federal government to purchase private land for the protection of scenery or even forests, it was more acceptable to do it for the protection of the navigability of streams, which Congress had traditionally done as an implied power under the Interstate Commerce clause of the Constitution. 
Filibusters from opponents of the Weeks Bill and delays in various committees kept the bill from coming to a final vote until June 24, 1910. Speaker Cannon kept his word and cast one of the last seven votes when it appeared the bill might not pass. When the measure went on to the Senate, it was approved by a vote of 57 to 9 with few changes. President William Howard Taft signed the Weeks Act into law on March 1, 1911.
The Weeks Act did not halt the assault of the "lumber barons" on New England forests, but it opened a way for the creation of 48 National Forests across the nation, among them the White Mountain National Forest. No single law has been more important in the return of the forests to the eastern United States.  In effect, the Weeks Act was the authority for the creation of the National Forests of the Eastern Region. Until this time, National Forests had been made out of lands over which the federal government already had controlusually public domain, exchange lands, or Indian lands. The Weeks Act allowed the purchase of the forest lands of the East, which had been cut-over, either by lumber companies or farmers. The intent was to protect the headwaters of streams from further denuding, to improve the navigability of streams, and to begin the process of reforestation. It was obviously a job for the Forest Service. 
Fire Protection Under the Weeks Act
Enough public consciousness had been raised regarding the consequences of forest fires that by 1911 individuals and states were ready to admit that the job of preventing and controlling forest fires called for specialized training and federal control. The Weeks Act set up a fund of $200,000 to be used as matching funds for states having forest protective agencies. 
Protection agencies had appeared in many states by this time. In the beginning, these agencies were primarily fire departments. They required spark arresters and other safeguards on logging equipment. Mainly they engaged in fire patrol and suppression. The Weeks Law enabled these state agencies to apply for funds up to $10,000 each to be used for fire patrolmen salaries. The individual states were required to match the federal funds with their own. New Hampshire applied first and received $7,200. Soon agreements were made with Minnesota for $10,000; New Jersey, $1,000; Wisconsin, $5,000; Maine, $10,000; and Vermont, $2,000. Within eight years, 23 states were cooperating with the federal government under Section 2 of the Weeks Law.  One effect of the federal aid was that the states began to cooperate with one another on fire problems as well as insect control and forest diseases. By the late 1920's, the Forest Service had come to view the efforts of the state agencies as complementary to their own. 
The National Forest Reservation Commission
The Weeks Act also created the National Forest Reservation Commission (NFRC), consisting of the Secretaries of Agriculture, Interior, and War, plus two senators and two congressmen. A Forest Service officer served as secretary. The function of the Commission was to purchase the kinds of land authorized under the Weeks Act. The Forest Service was to search for the lands eligible for purchase and the Geological Survey examined the tracts to determine if they came properly under the Weeks Act requirement to protect navigation. 
Chief Forester Henry S. Graves of the Forest Service assigned 35 men to conduct the field work searching for the lands to be purchased. William Hall of the Forest Service supervised the search. In the first few years, there was much confusion about the amount of money available to be spent and some attempts by landowners to take advantage of the situation by charging exorbitant prices. Nonetheless, at the end of the first two years, over 700,000 acres had been purchased at an average price of less than five dollars per acre. In 50 years of operation, the National Forest Reservation Commission purchased about 20 million acres, nearly all of it in the East. 
The procedures for acquisition of lands under the Weeks Act began when the individual field men were assigned areas or states to survey. Often they worked with state conservation or forestry departments or other federal agencies, specifically the Bureau of Indian Affairs or the Bureau of Land Management. Occasionally, state or Congressional political figures and state university faculty members became involved in the acquisition process because they hoped that ownership of cut-over and denuded areas by the federal government would lead a revitalization of the depressed economies in such areas. 
When the purchase agents had selected an area which met the requirements of the Weeks Act, they organized it into a purchase unit. They then set out to negotiate purchase agreements with as many landowners as possible, strictly on a willing-seller basis. In the early purchase units much of the land was bought from lumber companies. In later purchases intermediary land agents and companies played important roles. Often a piece of land passed from the original owner to an intermediary and then was sold to the government as part of a package deal. Even so, Supervisor Hall and his purchase agents made a great effort to see that fair prices were paid and that no one profiteered.
When the purchase unit was ready, it was submitted to the National Forest Reservation Commission to be approved for purchase. The function of the Commission was to determine whether the proposed purchase unit qualified under the Weeks Act and whether there was enough money available from the funds provided by Congress to make the purchase. 
The purchase of land was such a complicated process that virtually every National Forest had one non-Forest Service person who made a living by short cutting the process. The procedures were that a proposal was made and then an appraisal to determine the price range to be paid. Next the proposal had to be approved by the Supervisor's Office, then the Regional Office, and then the Washington Office. Finally it reached the NFRC where final authorization would be made. Then the titles had to be cleared by lawyers and Forest Service title experts. The whole process could take years. Meanwhile, landowners who had offered to sell their lands were waiting for their money.
At this point the private land jobbers entered the picture. They would buy the land involved in a proposal at less than what the government would eventually pay for it. For example, the agreed upon price might be $3.00 per acre and the jobber might pay $1.75 plus paying the back taxes. The landowner was willing to sell because he received his money immediately and did not have to wait for months and even years. Often the profit made by the jobber was only twenty-five cents an acre, so no one was getting rich on this. But with tens of thousands of acres being purchased, a jobber could make a living. 
As the purchase units and National Forests were being formed, the Forest Service began the process of organizing to administer and manage the eastern National Forests. Often several purchase units were put together to make one National Forest. In 1914 the Eastern National Forest District was established as a regional agency to administer the purchase units and the new National Forests. The Headquarters of the District was set up in Washington, D.C. The first National Forest established under the Weeks Act was the White Mountain followed by the Allegheny National Forest. During the 1920's, several other purchase units were acquired which would later be included in National Forests. 
In 1924, Congress passed the Clarke-McNary Act, which ranks with the Weeks Act in importance to forest policy for the Eastern Region. Much of the impetus for passage of the bill came from Chief Forester Greeley and the Forest Service. The conduit for Congressional action was Senator Charles E. McNary of Oregon, who introduced a bill in the Senate on December 15, 1923: "to provide for the protection of forest lands, for the reforestation of denuded areas, for the extension of National Forests and for other purposes."  The bill was immediately sent to the Select Committee on Reforestation, which was appointed for the purpose of studying this bill and chaired by McNary. The Select Committee toured 14 states and held 24 public hearings before voting unanimously in favor of the bill.  Greeley later admitted that he had packed many of the public hearings with witnesses who would testify that forest fire was the greatest single threat facing forest land owners. 
On January 7, 1924, Representative John D. Clarke of New York, the House conduit for the reforestation bill, introduced a bill in the House identical to McNary's. There were nine important sections of the Act. Sections 1 and 2 authorized the Secretary of Agriculture and therefore the Forest Service to "devise and recommend an adequate system of forest protection and fire prevention in the several states . . ." and to extend financial help "if there is cooperation." This was a broadening of Section 2 of the Weeks Act, which had provided some fire programs but which had apparently been less than effective since there were still 50,000 forest fires annually over 8 million acres. 
Section 3 provided for an extensive study of the tax laws of the states with a view to revisions which would allow private owners of denuded lands to replant without having their taxes raised. Section 4 provided for cooperation between the federal government and the states for furnishing seeds and plants for reforestation of state, federal, and private forests. Section 5 authorized cooperative programs with states or "other suitable agencies" to assist the owners of farms in "establishing, improving, and renewing woodlots, shelter belts, windbreaks, and other valuable forest growth and in growing and renewing useful timber crops." This section, together with Section 4, was the beginning of the work of the Forest Service in what is known as "State and Private Forestry."
Section 6 amended the Weeks Act to authorize the purchase of "such forested, cut-over, or denuded land within the watersheds of navigable streams as . . . may be necessary to the regulation of the flow of navigable streams or for the production of timber. . ." Into this simple statement are tucked vast new powers for the Forest Service. Instead of limiting the purchase of land to the headwaters of navigable streams, the law would now read "watersheds," a vastly broader definition. Furthermore, and probably even more important, the new law could be read to authorize the purchase of land "for the production of timber" with no limit at all on where it could be purchased.
Section 7 authorized the acceptance of land donated to the federal government for the creation of National Forests by states or private owners. Section 8 set up the National Forest Reservation Commission to supervise the acquisition of forest lands by the federal government. Section 9 authorized the President to establish as National Forests lands within the boundaries of government reservations which were not already set aside for such purposes as Parks, Indian reservations, and mineral reserves. 
When the Clarke-McNary Bill came to the floor of the House for debate, there was little opposition. The bill passed Congress with few changes and was signed into law by President Calvin J. Coolidge on June 7, 1924. For all of its importance to the national Conservation Movement and to the Forest Service, it was a remarkably short and simply written law. Unlike many other acts of Congress, it did not attempt to tell the government agencies involved how to execute it. The shape and form of whole new programs were left completely to administrative determinations by the Forest Service. The language of the law was vague, but it imparted broad powers and placed few limits on them. This was probably as the Forest Service wanted it, and the members of Congress, although many of them may not have fully understood what they were doing, acted in good faith in the laudable cause of forest conservation.
The Clarke-McNary Act opened a whole new world for the Forest Service in the East. The purchase of land was no longer restricted to lands within the headwaters of major streams or which affected navigation of streams. Now the Forest Service could buy any lands which were once in timber or which could be used to produce timber. With this vastly larger target, the Service now set out through the purchase unit procedure to create a comprehensive National Forest System in the Region. The passage of the Woodruff-McNary Act in 1923 greatly facilitated the process by providing a series of yearly appropriations of up to $8 million per year to carry out the provisions of the Weeks Act as amended. 
Since the amount of money available to purchase land under the Weeks Act was limited and in some years severely curtailed, a way was found to exchange lands of equal value outside the National Forests for lands within. Such exchanges were authorized under the Land Acquisition Act of 1925, and the exchanges were used increasingly in the years that followed, especially after World War II, when the acquisitions of the National Forest Reservation Commission were far greater than the funds Congress had allocated. 
Fire Protection Under the Clarke-McNary Act
In 1924, the Clarke-McNary Act extended the federal support of the Weeks Law programs to private efforts and increased the money to $2.5 million.  The hope behind this Bill was that if cooperation was encouraged between the federal, state, and private sectors of forestry, fire risks would be reduced, prompting timber owners to be less hasty to cut and therefore be less destructive in their methods of cutting.
In the early years of fire fighting, methods and equipment were very crude compared to today's standards. In the late 1920's on the Chippewa Forest, when a fire was reported, the Supervisor Howard Hopkins started hand-cranking an old Ford flat-bottomed or stake road truck that was used only for that purpose every two or three weeks. After great effort the truck would start and the exhausted Hopkins would drive to the corner saloon-pool hall, dash in, and obtain all available men (usually 90% Indian) for a fire crew. 
Nevertheless, even in these early years, the Forest Service's fire prevention policies, of the 1920's, did much to save American forests. Still, the damage from indiscriminate logging and fires could never be undone. A moving passage from James B. Trefethen's Crusade for Wildlife expresses a natural reaction to what had happened:
Tragic as these consequences were, they were not necessarily permanent. It now became the job of the Forest Service, all the state forest agencies, various local governments, interstate agencies, private lumber companies and landowners, and indeed every visitor to the forests of the land to help to eradicate the damage of past forest fires and prevent and control future ones.
There are certain inherent problems in managing the Eastern Region National Forests caused by the fact that they are not solid blocks of government-owned land as are many of the western National Forests. Because they were acquired by purchase, usually after someone other than the government had owned and used them, the National Forests of the Eastern Region are a patchwork of public and private ownership. In the Wayne National Forest, the government owns only about 20% of the land within the boundaries. Generally, government ownership is less than half.
The fragmentation of control has created special problems for the Eastern Region National Forests. Maintenance of boundary lines, settling boundary claims, rights-of-way questions, wildlife control, and general forest management are made more difficult by the fragmentation. Even so, the National Forests of the Eastern Region provide the public with a nondeclining source of wood and wood products, grazing, wildlife habitat, wilderness, diverse recreational opportunities, preservation of special features and natural areas, watershed protection, mining opportunities, and a number of other uses. In these capacities, the National Forests of the Eastern Region have become a vital part of the economy of the northeastern quadrant of the United States. At the same time they are the guardians of the natural environment against further encroachments by the rapidly growing urban population of the region. 
Last Updated: 28-Jan-2008