A Conspiracy of Optimism: Management of the National Forests since World War Two

By Paul W. Hirt | Go to book overview

9
"Operation Multiple Use" and the Continued Disjunction of Planning and Funding

In the 1950s, the Forest Service learned that pursuit of its management goals, especially in the budget process, could be enhanced by developing long-range plans. The Timber Resources Review had been successful in getting increased funds for timber sales and roads. Operation Outdoors led to a tripling of recreation funds between fiscal years 1957 and 1959. But what about wildlife? water? grazing? What about underemphasized aspects of the timber program, such as reforestation and stand improvement? What about neglected resource protection activities, such as watershed rehabilitation and soil erosion control? The Forest Service decided in the late 1950s that it was time to develop a comprehensive, integrated, long-range management program for all resources and activities. This had never been done before. The need was manifest, the potential benefits obvious, and the time ripe.

Between 1956 and 1959 the Forest Service collected data from its line officers in the field on resource production potential, management needs, and budget estimates for fully integrated multiple use management. In submitting to Congress the resultant Operation Multiple Use (also called the "1959 Program for the National Forests"), Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Ervin Peterson characterized it as the "first . . . fully coordinated, comprehensive program for the entire national forest system." Chief Richard McArdle explained that the program was keyed to the appropriations structure as well as to the work loads of the rangers at the lowest levels of the agency. "It is the first time that we have ever had anything which was coordinated and integrated clear across the board."1 The program included

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