Case No. 1

Summary

Trends in Timber Growth

(Photo credit: National Museum
of Forest Service History)

Summary


In 1620, forests covered 46 percent of the total land area of the United States. By 1910, the area of forest land had fallen to an estimated 34 percent of the total land area. In 2012, forest land made up 33 percent of the total land area of the United States. The total forested area of the US has been relatively stable since 1910, although the human population has more than tripled since then. (U.S. Forest Service Resource Facts and Historical Trends, 2014.  FS-1035).

The Conservation Movement, which began in the mid-19th Century, has totally changed how Americans value and manage our nation’s forests and grasslands. Beginning in the late 1800s with Gifford Pinchot and the Homestake Mining Company Timber Case No. 1, professional natural resource management has conserved our precious lands and resources while providing valuable products, services and enjoyment for the citizens of the United States.

Figure 1
National Forest Timber Harvest 1905-2016, MBF*
*One MBF = one thousand board feet
Timber Sale Case No. 1 was a major accomplishment in advancing professional management of all forest lands in the United States. Trained foresters decided what trees could be cut and monitored the cutting operations. Harvesting timber now and in the future, required a contract that specified the type of trees to be cut and the cost of the timber.

In the United States there are 155 National Forests containing 193 million acres or 8% of the country, that are managed for many different uses and values – outdoor recreation, timber, clean air & water, forage for livestock, minerals, wildlife, fish, and wilderness. Figure 1 shows the change in timber harvested (board feet) from National Forests during the first 110 years of the Forest Service. Figure 2 compares timber growth, harvest, and mortality (cubic feet) on National Forests over the past 60-70 years.

Figure 2
Annual Net Growth, Mortality, and Harvest
National Forest Timberlands – 1952-2016
(Forest Service 2017)

References


Clow, Richmond L. 1992. Timber Users, Timber Savers: Homestake Mining Company and the First Regulated Timber Harvest. South Dakota State Historical Society

Clow, Richmond L. 1998. Timber Users, Timber Savers: Homestake Mining Company and The First Regulated Timber Harvest. Forest History Today, Forest History Society, Durham, NC.

Forest Service. 1939. Rocky Mountain Region Bulletin. Volume 22, No. 3. Denver, CO

Forest Service. 2017. Forest Resources of the United States, 2017: A Technical Document Supporting the Forest Service Update of the 2010 RPA Assessment. Washington, DC.

Newport, Carl A. 1956. A History of Black Hills Forestry. South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks. Pierre, SD

Pinchot, Gifford. 1947. Breaking New Ground. Harcourt, Brace and Company, New York, NF. Page 114.

Wilkinson, Charles. 2015. The Greatest Good of the Greatest Number in the Long Run”: TR, Pinchot, and the Origins of Sustainability in America. Volume 26. Colorado Natural Resources, Energy & Environmental Law Review. University of Colorado, Boulder, CO

Williams, Gerald W. and Miller, Char. 2005, Spring/Fall. 2005. At the Creation: The National Forest Commission Of 1896– 97. Forest History Today, Forest History Society, Durham, NC.

Chapters in this Exhibit

Introduction


Case No. 1 was the name given to an 1899 timber sale on U.S. Government land in the Black Hills Forest Reserve in South Dakota.

Forest Reserves


In 1891, the U.S. Congress passed the Forest Reserve Act, which allowed the President to set aside parts of government lands across the western United States as Forest Reserves.

Homestake Mining Company


In 1897, Gifford Pinchot, the Chief of the Division of Forestry under the Department of Agriculture, convinced Homestake to apply to the Secretary of the Interior to purchase timber from the United States.

US Forest Service & Forest Products Industry


The Department of the Interior was responsible for management of the Forest Reserves until 1905 when Congress, supported by President Theodore Roosevelt, transferred the Forest Reserves to the Department of Agriculture’s new U.S. Forest Service.

Harvesting Technology & Science


Since 1900, the methods how trees are cut and the how foresters and other natural resource professionals apply science to manage the forest have changed drastically.

Summary


The total forested area of the US has been relatively stable since 1910, although the human population has more than tripled since then.

Funding for this exhibit is made possible by

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