WINSLOW, Ariz. - On July 21, a different kind of Forest Service talk was presented to the Homolovi Archaeology Society of Winslow. Given by Jason McInteer, Zone Archaeologist for the Sitgreaves National Forest near Snowflake, it encompassed information about the impact of politics and major fires, on forest management. A few milestones on our forests are below.
In the years 1879 to 1889, our timber and cattle industry boomed in the West. Much of the resources were depleted at a rate unexpected, which began more debate on preserving resources in the West. Previously, President Lincoln in 1862, had intuited a U.S. Department of Agriculture, but it had little regulatory ability to protect resources. Theodore Roosevelt set up the Department of Forestry in 1901 installing Gifford Pinchot as its first director. This act was an early recognition of the need to "manage" our resources as a way to ensure their continued existence.
World War II intervened and changed some priorities from preservation to harvesting, supporting the need of massive amounts of lumber to sustain the war effort. Here is a classic case where national priorities shift as a result of worldwide influences.
Beginning in the 1960s a population boom in the West put more stress on forest resources, which began a series of initiatives in 1966, 1969, 1979 and 2000. In the 1990s there was much interest and evaluation on types of seeds to use in replanting burned areas. Much of the seed research is ongoing.
As far as forest fires are concerned, the major effort and expense currently, is on fighting the fires that occur. There is a lot of competition for the U.S. Government dollars within the Federal Departments and the Forest Service is not high on the priority list. This results in forest management with less than ideal resources. But then, most federal departments probably would like more financial support, too.