A Tree-Lined MEMORY LANE
On September 10, AMERICAN FORESTS marks 125 years of working on behalf of trees and forests. Our rich history has touched three centuries, beginning in 1875 with a gathering of citizens concerned about the waste of our nation's treasured forests. Throughout the years the organization has counted among its officers and supporters the likes of both Franklin and Teddy Roosevelt and Itzhak Perlman (for 125 such famous names, see www.americanforests.org).
Our work in support of trees and forests includes leadership on forest conservation issues such as the move to set aside national forest and park land, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and urban forestry. Underlying our policy work has been the basic act of tree planting, from our early days, which set the tradition of planting a tree for every groundbreaking, memorial, or celebration, to our present Global ReLeaf education and action campaign. We're proud this seminal objective is still at the forefront of our efforts, not only because tree planting is a simple yet significant environmental action, but because planting puts the people in forest conservation. In the following pages we present a timeline of our accomplishments and a look at the issues of our past and future.
When physician and horticulturist John Aston Warder and like-minded individuals met in Chicago in 1875 and founded AMERICAN FORESTS (then called the American Forestry Association), it was for the purpose of protecting "the existing forests of the country from unnecessary waste and abuse" and "for the propagation and planting of useful trees." New science has changed the specifics, but these objectives still hold as we develop a new ethic for forest conservation in the 21st century. Put simply, AMERICAN FORESTS is about people, policy, and planting.
With so little being done for trees nationally in the 19th century, AMERICAN FORESTS initially focused on changing public policy. After gathering information on the state of the nation's forest resource, we focused our advocacy on a comprehensive plan for forest protection and management. An 1897 study we persuaded the Secretary of the Interior to commission from the National Academy of Sciences pointed out the need to create and manage forest reserves. This led to passage of the Forest Reserve Act, the beginning of the national forest system. State forests and agencies followed.
At the second American Forest Congress in January 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt hosted conferees at a White House reception. A report in our magazine, then called Forestry and Irrigation, described the goal as: "to stimulate and unite all efforts to perpetuate the forest as a permanent resource of the nation." The US Forest Service was launched just one month later. (AMERICAN FORESTS has been a sponsor of subsequent Congresses, including the most recent, Seventh American Forest Congress, held in 1996.) Among the resolutions adopted by the 1905 Congress was having California convey Yosemite Park for national park status and acquiring Calavaras Grove of Big Trees.
AMERICAN FORESTS advocated for the protection and creation of national parks, including Grand Canyon and Everglades, and defended these lands from threats to their integrity. A January 1921 editorial warned that national parks "set aside as permanent recreation grounds for the people of the entire country" were being threatened by "commercial invasions" from two sources. First, a provision in the Federal Water Power Act allowed the issuance of licenses to build and operate dams and reservoirs in national parks and monuments on the same basis as those in the national forests. The second threat was irrigation interests.
"... the greatest value of the National Parks lies in the very fact that they are consecrated to recreational, esthetic, and scientific ends to the exclusion of those commercial activities which elsewhere rule supreme" the editorial warned. "If the camels' nose of business is ever allowed to enter, no matter in what guise, it is only a question of time when this distinction will disappear."
NEW NATIONAL FORESTS
Our efforts on public policy had lofty legislative goals and led to the passage of the Weeks Bill in 1911, which allowed for new federal reserve set-asides for the purpose of protecting watersheds. This early recognition of the ecological values of forests later evolved into a great appreciation of the need for ecosystem protection and management. The 1924 passage of the Clarke-McNary Act directly led to the creation of national forests in the East and partnerships between federal and state forestry agencies to replant and restore these and other damaged public lands.
In the late 1920s and early '30s forest fire created an economic disaster for the South, which accounted for 80 percent of the fires reported nationwide. Some were set by arsonist cattlemen "greening up" the woods for their livestock, some by careless producers of naval stores, and some by rural folk burning to kill brush, chiggers, ticks, and snakes. AMERICAN FORESTS initiated the Southern Forestry Educational Project to educate rural people, chiefly through the Dixie Crusaders, young foresters who carried a fire prevention message to 3 million people in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina. Movie showings and lectures were held in schoolhouses, churches, sawmill settlements, and turpentine camps.
In the 1990s, AMERICAN FORESTS found itself in the forefront of defending the science behind prescribed burns. Prescribed burns are again "under fire" in the wake of May's ill-fated Los Alamos burn and this summer's severe fire season.
DIGGING OUT OF THE DEPRESSION
As he accepted the Democratic Party's nomination for the presidency in 1932, Franklin Roosevelt envisioned reforestation as a way to help solve the massive unemployment gripping the country. AMERICAN FORESTS had supported a similar program under Roosevelt when he was governor of New York, so when Congress in 1932 passed an act making $300 million available to states to relieve unemployment hardships, magazine editor Ovid Butler acted. He wrote the governors of the 48 states, urging them to include forest work in these emergency relief programs; Roosevelt promptly sent Butler a letter praising his efforts.
In an August 1932 editorial, Butler argued "almost everywhere throughout the country's forest domain there is work waiting to be done," including fire breaks, forest roads and trails, planting and establishing forest nurseries, controlling forest insects and diseases, slowing soil erosion, and planting to beautify forest areas along highways.
"Instead of men crowding the bread lines, accepting charity, suffering mentally and physically in idleness which often leads to crime, subsistence work camps in the forests care for them in a way that reconstructs not only the bodies and minds of the men but the land in which they and their dependents must live," Butler wrote.
Soon after his inauguration Roosevelt established the Civilian Conservation Corps, known as the CCC. An account of the first camp, in George Washington National Forest in Virginia, was published in the June 1933 American Forests and followed by monthly articles detailing the CCC's work. From 1933 to 1939 CCCers planted 538 million trees.
In the 1960s, '70s, and '80s, forest issues heated up with extreme polarization. AMERICAN FORESTS weighed in on the issues of old-growth forests, below-cost timber sales, public lands privatization and others, acting as a bridge builder to forge rational public policy based on the best science available. We formalized our long history of forest policy work in 1991 by creating the Forest Policy Center program area at AMERICAN FORESTS. The issues of ecosystem management, forest health, and wildfire dominated the work of the Center in its first few years.
Who decides what's best for the national forests? Depends on who you ask, but AMERICAN FORESTS is at the forefront of those advocating that local communities deserve a voice in making those decisions.
Our Forest Policy Center's focus on community-based ecosystem management helps people understand and strengthen the links between healthy forests and healthy communities. From hosting listening sessions and field tours to coordinating workshops and issuing reports, AMERICAN FORESTS has committed itself to fostering citizen-based stewardship forestry.
The future of forest conservation lies in bringing urban and rural people together to understand and invest in the values of their forests. Based on our National Policy Agenda for Ecosystem Restoration and Maintenance, we will develop projects with local partners that promote knowledge sharing, on-the-ground restoration work, and a market-based "greencollar workforce,"
TREES CLOSE TO HOME
At the 1905 American Forest Congress, AMERICAN FORESTS urged "tree-planting and the preservation of shade trees along public highways throughout America." While urban forestry has existed in the national conscience for only about 30 years, AMERICAN FORESTS began sowing those seeds more than a century ago. In the article "The Making of a Town Forest" (July 1930 magazine), G.H. Collingwood praises the benefits of forests in the city--a campaign AMERICAN FORESTS still wages today: "With cities realizing that their ultimate limit of population is fixed by the amount of available water, it is no wonder that modern America is turning to town forests to protect the municipal water supply. Statistical records of the accomplishments of the forest in arresting the flow of water are not many, but there is no disputing the function of the trees."
Whether obtained to protect clean water or to care for abandoned land, a town forest can offer "splendid recreational possibilities," the article says. It cites Chicago's Cook County Forest Preserve, where, "Realizing that public property needs protective care, vandalism even within the Chicago Preserve grows less each year. It might follow that vandalism in other communities would grow less under such influences."
Through our 20-year partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, our urban forestry program has helped people appreciate and invest in the ecological, economic, and social values of urban forests and natural resources. These forests provide billions of dollars of value and contribute significantly to the quality of city life. Research information and success stories are shared biennially at AMERICAN FOREST' National Urban Forest Conference, instituted in 1982 to promote the financial, social, and aesthetic value of city trees.
A GRAND VIEW
A ride with AMERICAN FORESTS' early ecotourism program, Trail Riders, was sure to cure almost any citified ailment. In the February 1933 program announcement, participants were promised they would "spend days in the saddle, evenings around dreamy campfires, and nights in restful sleep on beds of fir boughs. They will be far removed from the `madding crowd,' where trails are the only highways and remote ranger stations and miners' cabins the only habitation."
The rides lived up to their promise. Widely popular, they continued until the mid-1980s. (For more on these backcountry adventures, see the Summer 2000 issue.)
Another effort to get people to appreciate the natural world around them combined awe with conservation effort. A 1940 call to protect the giants of the tree world prompted AMERICAN FORESTS to urge citizens to seek out and find national "champions." We've maintained the National Register of Big Trees, with the help of The Davey Tree Expert Company, ever since.
The most recent Register, published this past spring, spotlighted 826 species of native and naturalized trees. Of those, four trees--a giant sequoia, Rocky Mountain juniper, western juniper, and white oak--have maintained their crowns since the Register's inception.
Trees went high-tech in the 1990s as AMERICAN FORESTS' Urban Forest Center debuted its CITYgreen software for measuring and assessing the value of a region's canopy cover, including tracking tree loss over time. When an AMERICAN FORESTS analysis showed the Atlanta areas heavy tree cover declined more than 25 percent from 1974 to 1996, it brought tree loss to the forefront of the sprawl issue. Analyses of Austin, Milwaukee, Baltimore, and Dade County (around Miami) showed similar trends.
In 1997, AMERICAN FORESTS recommended cities strive for an overall tree canopy coverage average of about 40 percent. That figure would allow cities to realize millions of dollars in cost savings for stormwater, air pollution controls, and energy use. The ecosystem analyses have since expanded to look at regions--the Chesapeake Bay watershed, Puget Sound, and the Denver/Front Range area.
A recurring theme has been the idea of planting trees as commemorations or memorials. In 1917, a red oak sapling was planted near George Washington's tomb at Mt. Vernon "to perpetuate patriotism, and as a mark of veneration for the Father of his country," according to a story in the February issue of American Forestry. In 1923, AMERICAN FORESTS championed the idea of planting white birch to honor the mothers of the nation.
"And it is the hope of this Association that this custom shall increase in practice until not only each State and each important city, but every town and hamlet shall have its white birch--chosen, planted and dedicated in tribute to the purest sentiment known to the questing heart of man--his love and reverence for motherhood," the magazine said.
By 1933 trees had been planted in Washington to honor the mothers of presidents, mothers of the nation, and the mother of the Unknown Soldier buried at Arlington Cemetery. The shovel used was sent all over the country for tree- planting ceremonies. It was used this past summer at the French Embassy to plant a tree on behalf of soldiers who participated in D-Day.
THINK GLOBALLY, PLANT LOCALLY
AMERICAN FORESTS' Global ReLeaf program, an education and action campaign, was launched in 1988 to focus on tree planting for environmental restoration. Among its most notable programs: Global ReLeaf Forests, which restores damaged ecosystems through the planting of native species. The program, funded by contributions from individuals and corporations, provides cost-share grants to community groups.
By year's end, 15 million Global ReLeaf trees will have been planted in the U.S. and around the world. The first trees planted in Michigan in 1990 provided forested habitat for the endangered Kirtland's warbler; the most recent, in the Russian Far East, expand habitat for the endangered Siberian tiger (see page 38). The international arm of Global ReLeaf Forests brings the merits of tree planting overseas. Today AMERICAN FORESTS counts 25 countries among its international tree-planting partners.
Global ReLeaf Fund does for urban forests what Global ReLeaf Forests does for rural ones. Projects include trees planted in New York, Chicago, and Seattle. And our Historic Trees are the progeny of trees connected with famous places and individuals and documented by AMERICAN FORESTS since the beginning of the 20th century. These trees connect people with history in a unique way. This past spring, the PBS documentary "Silent Witnesses: America's Historic Trees" related U.S. history through the stories of more than 20 of our Historic trees.
THE VOICE OF FOREST CONSERVATION
AMERICAN FOREESTS' now 106-year-old magazine has been more than just a regular call to action. It has also showcased some of the conservation movement's preeminent writers. Among them: Aldo Leopold, who penned these words for "The Last Stand of the Wilderness" in the October 1925 issue:
"... Since the pilgrims landed, the supply of wilderness has always been unlimited. Now, of a sudden, the end is in sight. The really wild places within reach of the centers of population are going or gone. As a nation, however, we are so accustomed to a plentiful supply that we are unconscious of what the disappeance of wild places would mean, just as we are unconscious of what the disappearance of winds or sunsets would mean. The opportunity to disappear into the tall uncut has existed so long that we unconsciously assume it, like the wind and sunset, to be one of the fixed facts of Nature..."
More than ever, people are getting their information online, and AMERICAN FORESTS entered the Internet age with its first website in 1996. Our efforts have expanded greatly since then, offering a wealth of ways our members and supporters can connect with us and affect our programs at www.americanforests.org.
Those options include: planting trees online, counting trees you have planted at home toward our goal of 20 million new trees for the new millennium, asking questions of our "tree doctor" online, reading excerpts from our magazine, and subscribing to an online newsletter.
We are setting a course for the 21st century that pioneers e-advocacy (to add yet another term to an already overcrowded lexicon).
So what does the future hold for AMERICAN FORESTS' third century of influence? The answer lies deep in the wilderness forest and in the one right outside your door.
People, planting, and policy will remain our focus, and while the conservation issues and ways to engage the public may change, we will never waver from our original goals of the protection of forests from waste and abuse and the planting of trees.
125 YEARS OF CONSERVATION LEADERSHIP
AMERICAN FORESTS founded in Chicago by group of concerned citizens, led by John Aston Warder, Cincinnati physician.
First American Forest Congress organized by AMERICAN FORESTS. First tree-planting project conducted in Eden Park, Cincinnati.
AMERICAN FORESTS appoints special committee to advance observance of Arbor Day. (Founder J. Sterling Morton serves as AMERICAN FORESTS president from 1893-1896).
After years of drafting bills defeated in Congress, AMERICAN FORESTS succeeds in getting a bill passed that gives the president power to set aside Forest Reserves. President Harrison immediately proclaims 13 million acres as forest reserves; President Cleveland adds 5 million soon after.
American Forests magazine debuts.
AMERICAN FORESTS persuades Secretary of Interior to commission report from National Academy of Sciences on need for agency to manage forest reserves. Interior deemed unable to protect lands from fire or theft. Congress passes Forest Reserve Act.
President Theodore Roosevelt addresses American Forest Congress and holds a White House reception for delegates; resolution passes that all federal government work on forests be under USDA. Congress passes legislation one month later. AMERICAN FORESTS supports creation of national parks, including purchase of Calavaras Grove of Big Trees in California and conveyance of Yosemite to federal government from California.
AMERICAN FORESTS succeeds in passage of Weeks Bill in Congress that allows for acquisition of forest reserves to protect watersheds.
AMERICAN FORESTS strongly supports creation of Grand Canyon National Park.
Policy issues include national forests m the East; wildlife protection in Alaska, recreation resource survey; establishment of migratory bird refuges; creation of Appalachia National Park, national capital parks, and national arboretum; and improvement of Yellowstone elk habitat. AMERICAN FORESTS continues to oppose bills in Congress that fail to protect parks from "irrigation, reservoirs, power projects or other industrial use."
AMERICAN FORESTS launches memorial tree-planting campaigns. First Lady Mrs. Warren G. Harding plants first memorial tree in Washington, DC.
AMERICAN FORESTS donates first living Christmas tree to the nation; secures passage of Clarke-McNary Act to allow cooperation in reforestation and forest management between federal agencies and states. Leads to creation of national forests in the East and state forest nurseries to ensure sufficient seedlings for reforestation.
AMERICAN FORESTS creates the Dixie Crusaders to educate people in the Southeast about the causes and dangers of wildfire. Between 1928 and 1931 AMERICAN FORESTS raised $26O,000 to educate 3 million people.
AMERICAN FORESTS conducts aggressive congressional information campaigns on creation and protection of national parks in Florida Everglades, Grand Tetons, Olympic Mountains, and against tunneling under the Rocky Mountains to divert the Colorado River for irrigation.
AMERICAN FORESTS works with Franklin D. Roosevelt to create Civilian Conservation Corps. AMERICAN FORESTS debuts ecotourism program Trail Riders of the Wilderness.
American Forests magazine publishes first of many articles by Aldo Leopold.
National Register of Big Trees established.
Wildfire protection campaigns conducted nationally by AMERICAN FORESTS.
AMERICAN FORESTS celebrates 100 years.
AMERICAN FORESTS fights against privatization of federal public lands.
AMERICAN FORESTS launches urban forestry program and convenes National Urban Forest Conference in Cincinnati, 100 years after first American Forest Congress there.
AMERICAN FORESTS debuts Famous & Historic Trees program.
AMERICAN FORESTS launches Global ReLeaf campaign aimed at tree planting for
First Global ReLeaf Forest established in Au Sable, Michigan--23,000 jack pine to provide forest habitat for endangered Kirtland's warbler. Christopher Reeve stars in Global ReLeaf PSAs on The Discovery Channel.
Forest Policy Center created. Cool Communities program promotes tree planting for energy conservation. Global ReLeaf awarded President's Citation for Innovation.
Global ReLeaf International launched. AMERICAN FORESTS reps march in Russia's first peacetime May Day parade.
Forest health initiative launched; AMERICAN FORESTS develops Geographic Information Systems capability to map and measure city tree cover. One millionth Global ReLeaf Forest tree planted in Hawaii.
Urban ecosystem analysis of five cities shows spiraling tree cover. The Famous & Historic Trees program promotes Living Classrooms of trees and educational materials. Tree-planting partnership with retailer Eddie Bauer announced.
AMERICAN FORESTS cosponsors the Seventh American Forest Congress. World Wide Web site launches.
40 percent overall canopy coverage goal announced for cities.
Global ReLeaf Forests announces 1 million-tree goals for Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound. Forest Policy Center gives national policy voice to community-based ecosystem management.
Global ReLeaf Forests plants 10 millionth tree. AMERICAN FORESTS partners with White House to donate Millennium Groves to each state and territory. 5-point plan for tree-smart development announced at National Urban Forest Conference. Forest Policy Center develops National Policy Agenda for Ecosystem Restoration and Maintenance for the 21st century.
125th anniversary of AMERICAN FORESTS.…
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: A Tree-Lined MEMORY LANE. Contributors: Not available. Magazine title: American Forests. Volume: 106. Issue: 3 Publication date: Autumn 2000. Page number: 25. © 1999 American Forests. COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group.
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