History of the United States Forest Service
Starting in 1876, and undergoing a series of name changes, the U.S. Forest Service grew to protect and utilize millions of acres of forest on public land. Gifford Pinchot, an early advocate of scientific forestry, along with President Theodore Roosevelt and conservation organizations, led the effort to manage forest for the public good.
In 1876, Congress created the office of Special Agent in the Department of Agriculture to assess the state of the forests in the United States. Franklin B. Hough was appointed the head of the office. In 1881, the office was expanded into the newly formed Division of Forestry. The Forest Reserve Act of 1891 authorized withdrawing land from the public domain as "forest reserves," managed by the Department of the Interior. In 1901, the Division of Forestry was renamed the Bureau of Forestry. The Transfer Act of 1905 transferred the management of forest reserves from the General Land Office of the Interior Department to the Bureau of Forestry, henceforth known as the US Forest Service.  Gifford Pinchot was the first Chief Forester of the US Forest Service. In 1911, Congress passed the Weeks Act, authorizing the government to purchase private lands for stream-flow protection, and to maintain the lands as national forests. This made it possible for the national forest system to expand into the eastern United States.
Significant federal legislation affecting the Forest Service includes the Weeks Act of 1911, the Multiple Use - Sustained Yield Act of 1960, P.L. 86-517; the Wilderness Act, P.L. 88-577; the National Forest Management Act, P.L. 94-588; the National Environmental Policy Act, P.L. 91-190; the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act, P.L. 95-313; and the Forest and Rangelands Renewable Resources Planning Act, P.L. 95-307.
- 1876 The Office of Special Agent for forest research is created in the Department of Agriculture to assess the state of the forests in the United States.
- 1881 The Office of the Special Agent is expanded into the newly formed Division of Forestry.
- 1891 The Forest Reserve Act of 1891 authorizes withdrawing land from the public domain as "forest reserves," managed by the Department of the Interior.
- 1901 The Division of Forestry is renamed the Bureau of Forestry.
- 1905 The Transfer Act of 1905 transfers the management of forest reserves from the General Land Office (within the Department of the Interior) to the Bureau of Forestry (within the Department of Agriculture). The name of the agency changes to the Forest Service.
- 1905–1945 National forest management focuses on protecting lands against overgrazing, controlling and combating fire, protecting fish and game, and providing public recreation.
- 1910 The Great Fire of 1910
- 1911 The Weeks Act authorized the Secretary of Agriculture to purchase cutover, denuded, and other forested lands for flood and fire control. This new authority led to the expansion of National Forests in the Eastern United States and the protection and restoration of millions of acres of land.
- 1922 The General Land Exchange Act of 1922 authorized the Secretary of Interior to obtain title to privately owned land located within national forest boundaries.
- 1944 The Forest Service begins a campaign stating "Only YOU can prevent forest fires" using a fire-injured bear as a symbol to be careful. Today, Smokey Bear is one of the most widely recognized icons in America.
- 1946–1960 National forests experience increased demand on forest resources, especially timber and recreation.
- 1960–1980 in response to shifting public values, the Forest Service shifts focus to managing land as integrated systems, instead of individual resources.
- 1989 The Chief 's New Perspectives initiative stresses ecosystem management and sustainability and is aimed to place timber management in line with other forest values including biodiversity, water quality, and recreation.
- 2001 The National Fire Plan is created to address the buildup of fuels caused by decades of fire suppression, climate change, and developments adjacent to forests.
List of Forest Service Chiefs
|Forest Service Chief Foresters||Years of Service||Name of Agency||Education|
|a.||Franklin B. Hough[nb 1]||1876–1883||Division of Forestry||Union College, Western Reserve College|
|b.||Nathaniel H. Egleston||1883–1886||Division of Forestry||Yale University, Yale Divinity School|
|c.||Bernhard Eduard Fernow||1886–1898||Division of Forestry||University of Königsberg; Prussian Forest Academy at Münden|
|1||Gifford Pinchot||1898–1901||Division of Forestry||Yale University|
|1901–1905||Bureau of Forestry|
|1905–1910||U.S. Forest Service|
|2||Henry "Harry" Solon Graves||1910–1920||U.S. Forest Service||Yale University|
|3||William B. Greeley||1920 -1928||U.S. Forest Service||University of California & Yale Forestry School|
|4||Robert Y. Stuart||1928–1933||U.S. Forest Service||Dickinson College & Yale Forestry School|
|5||Ferdinand A. Silcox||1933–1939||U.S. Forest Service||College of Charleston & Yale Forestry School|
|6||Earle H. Clapp||1939–1943 (acting)||U.S. Forest Service||University of Michigan|
|7||Lyle F. Watts||1943–1952||U.S. Forest Service||Iowa State College & Forestry School|
|8||Richard E. McArdle||1952–1962||U.S. Forest Service||University of Michigan|
|9||Edward P. Cliff||1962–1972||U.S. Forest Service||Utah State College|
|10||John R. McGuire||1972–1979||U.S. Forest Service||University of Minnesota & Yale Forestry School|
|11||R. Max Peterson||1979–1987||U.S. Forest Service||University of Missouri|
|12||F. Dale Robertson||1987–1993||U.S. Forest Service||University of Arkansas|
|13||Jack Ward Thomas||1993–1996||U.S. Forest Service||Texas A&M University, West Virginia University, University of Massachusetts|
|14||Michael Dombeck||1996–2001||U.S. Forest Service||University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point and the University of Minnesota|
|15||Dale N. Bosworth||2001–2007||U.S. Forest Service||University of Idaho|
|16||Gail Kimbell||2007–2009||U.S. Forest Service||University of Vermont, Oregon State University|
|17||Thomas Tidwell||2009–2017||U.S. Forest Service||Washington State University|
|18||Tony Tooke||2017–2018||U.S. Forest Service||Mississippi State University|
- Dr. Franklin B. Hough was originally given the title of "Forestry Agent" in 1876. In 1881 the title was changed to "Chief". When Pinchot became Chief of the Division, he requested that his title be changed from "Chief" to "Forester". The title "Chief Forester" was adopted in 1935.
- "U.S. Forest Service History Collection". Forest History Society. Retrieved October 19, 2011.
- "History". U.S. Forest Service. Retrieved October 19, 2011.
- "The Big Burn-Transcript". American Experience. PBS. February 3, 2015. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
- Williams, Gerald W. (2000). The USDA Forest Service --- The First Century (PDF). U.S. Department of Agriculture. Retrieved October 19, 2011.
- "United States Forest Service FAQ" (PDF). Retrieved November 30, 2013.
- "Chiefs of the U.S. Forest Service". Forest History Society. Retrieved October 19, 2011.
- "History --- Leadership Time Line". U.S. Forest Service. Retrieved October 19, 2011.
- Egan, Timothy (2009). "The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt & the Fire That Saved America.".
- Hall, William L. (July 1914). "To Remake The Appalachians: A New Order In The Mountains That is Founded On Forestry – What The Government's Appalachian Forests Mean To The People In The Mountains And To The Millions Who Want Recreation". The World's Work: A History of Our Time. XLIV (2): 321–338. Retrieved August 4, 2009.
- Knappen, Theodore M. (May 1922). "Shall Our Forests Be "Developed" Or Renewed?". The World's Work: A History of Our Time. XLIV: 78–88. Retrieved August 4, 2009.
- Bergoffen, William W. (1976). 100 Years of Federal Forestry (PDF). U.S. Department of Agriculture. Retrieved October 19, 2011.
- "Inventory of the Edward Parley Cliff Papers, 1931 – 1985". Forest History Society. Retrieved October 19, 2011.
- "Inventory of the R. Max Peterson Papers, 1970 – 1990". Forest History Society. Retrieved October 19, 2011.