“Environmental Legacies: Land-Clearing, Forest Use, and Conservation in Northern New England, 1820-1920″

February 26th, 2011 by Kelly

First Annual Stanley Russell Howe Lecture: “Environmental Legacies: Land-Clearing, Forest Use, and Conservation in Northern New England, 1820-1920″ by Dr. Richard W. Judd, Col. James C. McBride Professor of History at the University of Maine. Presented in honor of the Society’s longtime Executive Director, and in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the “Weeks Act” (the 1911 Federal law that allowed for lands in the eastern U.S. to be acquired and maintained as national forests), this lecture will be presented by Dr. Richard Judd, an expert in the field of U.S. environmental history, particularly in New England. Dr. Judd received his Ph.D from the University of California Irvine in 1979 and first came to the University of Maine in 1980 as a postdoctoral fellow. He returned to California in 1981 and worked for the next three years as assistant/associate editor for the Journal of Forest History (later merged with Environmental History). Since rejoining the History Department in 1984, he has taught a series of courses concentrating in nineteenth and twentieth century America, including urban history, economic/industrial history, environmental history, and Maine history. At the graduate level, he leads seminars in U.S. history since 1865 and in U.S. environmental history. He also edits the Maine Historical Society’s quarterly journal, Maine History, and in conjunction with its publication offers a graduate practicum in editing and producing an historical journal. Mason House exhibit hall, 2:00 PM

Bethel Historical Society

The Weeks Act and New Hampshire: A Centennial Retrospective

February 26th, 2011 by Kelly

Op-Ed by Char Miller
The Weeks Act and New Hampshire: A Centennial Retrospective

Dear Colleagues: The Weeks Act, named for its floor manager Rep. John Weeks (R-MA), and which President William Howard Taft signed into law on March 1, 1911, gave the federal government the authority to create national forests across the east, changing the face of New England through the establishment of the White and Green Mountains national forests. It is thus one of the nation’s most important pieces of environmental legislation. But almost no knows anything about it. Below please find my 648-word op-ed that explores the Act’s enduring significance; if you accept it, and if possible, it would be great if the piece could run close to March 1, the initiative’s official centennial.

I have written extensively on the history of the USDA Forest Service and am author of Gifford Pinchot and the Making of Modern Environmentalism and Ground Work: Conservation in American Culture. Naturally enough, I hope you will find this commentary of interest to your readers. Best wishes, Char

char miller, director
w.m. keck professor of environmental analysis
environmental analysis program
pomona college
185 e. sixth street
claremont ca 91711
909-607-8343
char.miller@pomona.edu
********************************************
The Weeks Act, which President William Howard Taft signed into law on March 1, 1911, authorized the federal government to create national forests across the east. It thus changed the face of New Hampshire, making it one of the most significant pieces of environmental legislation in American history.

Yet few Americans have ever heard of the bill, or know of its impact on their lives, which is why its centennial gives us a golden opportunity to learn about its transformative power and enduring significance in this era of climate change.

Start with the Weeks Act’s most obvious impact: its appropriations helped purchase the White Mountains National Forest (1918) in New Hampshire (and later Vermont’s Green Mountain National Forest in 1932). For the many folks who hunt, hike, fish and camp on these treasured public lands, the Act is of inescapable value.

It is of national significance, too, for when it authorized the federal government to purchase private land for eastern national forests it did so in the context of cooperative relations between Washington and the states. The bill’s title makes this clear: “AN ACT to enable any State to cooperate with any other State or States, or with the United States, for the protection of the watersheds of navigable streams, and to appoint a commission for the acquisition of lands for the purpose of conserving the navigability of navigable rivers.” This insistence on intergovernmental collaboration is one of the Weeks Act’s groundbreaking qualities.

Another key feature is embodied in the arcane phrase, “the navigability of navigable waters.” It allowed the Forest Service to target high-country watersheds of rivers crossing state boundaries, cleverly linking watershed protection to the “Commerce Clause” of the U. S. Constitution. That clause granted the federal government the responsibility to regulate interstate commerce, and through the Weeks Act this authority was extended to interstate streamflow.

Those who pushed for the Weeks Act, named for its savvy congressional floor manager, John W. Weeks (R-MA), could not know that it would have such far-reaching consequences. All they had wanted was some form of federal protection for the Appalachian Mountains. Late nineteenth-century New England activists were deeply worried about deforestation’s impact on rampaging floodwaters and damaging fires, notably along the upper reaches of the Merrimack and Connecticut watersheds. Southern conservationists were equally concerned that heavy logging was intensifying flood damage in their region. Independently, these groups lobbied for national forests like those that already existed in the west.

But because the federal government owned almost no land in the east, the only way it could manage forests there was if it bought them. Whether it had this constitutional right however was hotly debated, and that’s one reason why the Weeks Act, an early version of which was introduced in 1900, took so long to become law.

These maneuverings would not have succeeded without the broad coalition of local interests demanding the Weeks Act’s passage. Its key northern proponents were the Appalachian Mountain Club and the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. In the south, the Appalachian National Forest Association led the way. Without their collective and persistent lobbying, we would not have protected upwards of 26 million acres throughout the east. New Hampshire’s major watersheds would be less green, its vistas less stunning, and its economy less vibrant.

By forging public-private partnerships and empowering grassroots activism, the Weeks Act coalitions responded creatively to what they perceived as their generation’s greatest environmental challenge. We must do the same as if we expect to build a more sustainable society on this warming planet.

We might also adopt Teddy Roosevelt’s charge, delivered while stumping for the Weeks Act in 1910: “I ask you to profit from the mistakes made elsewhere…and so handle [natural resources] that you leave your land as a heritage to your children, increased and not impaired in permanent value.”

Our obligation is no less pressing or solemn.

–30–
Char Miller directs the Environmental Analysis Program at Pomona College in Claremont CA, and is author of Gifford Pinchot and the Making of Modern Environmentalism and Ground Work: Conservation in American Culture.

How the Weeks Act Changed the Country (even California)

February 26th, 2011 by Kelly

Click here for full article

Wild by Law- Char Miller on the Weeks Act

February 26th, 2011 by Kelly

Due to the 100th anniversary of the Weeks Act, stories such as this in the Republican American are floating around the New England press.

Char Miller contributes Weeks Act Forest Planning[1] essay called “Wild by Law.” Longer than a blog post, but well worth the read, and a gentle reminder that public lands ideas, ideals and controversy are not just a western concern.

112th Congress 1st Session H. RES. 84

February 17th, 2011 by Kelly

112th Congress 1st Session H. RES. 84

Free Program Wednesday 16 February 2011 at 7 PM

February 17th, 2011 by Kelly

Free Program Wednesday 16 February 2011 at 7 PM at the Rocks Estate in Bethlehem
The Weeks Act and the Creation of the White Mountain National Forest

The White Mountains have played a key role in the conservation history of the United States—yet that role has often been overlooked. The rugged beauty of the White Mountains inspired the passage of the Weeks Act in 1911. This law gave the federal government—for the first time–the resources to buy land for the purpose of protecting the headwaters of navigable rivers. During the past century, 52 national forests were created containing 25 million acres in 26 eastern states. Without the Weeks Act, we would not have the White Mountain National Forest today.

Join Forest Historian David Govatski for a presentation celebrating the legacy of the Weeks Act a hundred years after its passage. Learn about Lancaster native John Wingate Weeks who sponsored what has been called “one of the most important forest conservation bills in US history”. See historic photos of the early days of the White Mountain National Forest including forest fires and extensive logging that led to the passage of the Weeks Act by Congress on February 15, 1911.

This free program is part of the Bretzfelder Lecture Series and will be held at the Rocks Estate on 4 Christmas Tree Lane in Bethlehem on Wednesday 16 February 2011 starting at 7 PM.

www.WeeksLegacy.org Goes Live!

February 10th, 2011 by Alice

The Weeks Act Centennial celebrates 100 years since the conservation vision of John Weeks that led to the establishment of the eastern national forests.

A diverse group of individuals and organizations have combined efforts to create an official website to promote information, events, and other opportunities related to the 2011 celebration of the Weeks Act centennial.  In addition to providing an overview of all of the events and educational opportunities related to the centennial celebration, www.WeeksLegacy.org is a treasure trove of information about the history of the Act, cultural arts unique to the region, and multi-media presentations.

Not only is this a great site to visit to get information, it’s interactive!  Share stories about your forest experiences and read those shared by other visitors on the Memories page.  Has your family grown tired of your annual recounting of Uncle Bob climbing that tree in record speed when he heard a bull frog for the first time?  Tell it here!  You’ve got a whole new audience!  Bookmark www.WeeksLegacy.org and return to visit it often for updates, new tales, and to keep track of upcoming events.

www.WeeksLegacy.org is part of a coordinated New Hampshire effort celebrating the Weeks Act Centennial and honoring the tradition of conservation and partnerships exemplified by the act, which created Eastern National Forests.  Celebrating the Weeks Act and the creation of Eastern National Forests provides an opportunity to promote increased awareness of sustainable forestry, land stewardship and citizen-based conservation.

 

Protecting the Forest: The Weeks Act of 1911 Exhibition Tour

February 9th, 2011 by Kelly

Listed below are the dates and locations of the:

Protecting the Forest: The Weeks Act of 1911 Exhibition Tour

Plymouth State University, Silver Center, March 3 – April 11, 2010

 

The Balsams Grand Resort, Dixville Notch, NH, May 24-28, 2010

 

Mountain Grand View Resort and Spa, Whitefield, NH, June 1-2, 2010

 

Weeks State Park, Lancaster, NH, June 23 – September 6, 2010

 

The Highland Center, Crawford Notch, September 2010 – January 3, 2011

 

St. Kieran Art Center, Berlin, NH, January 16 – March 27, 2011

 

National Forest Service, Campton, NH, Campton, NH April-May, 2011

 

Mt Washington Observatory Weather Discovery Center, North Conway, NH Memorial Day – Labor Day, 2011

 

Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, Concord, NH, September – October, 2011

Brown Bag Lunch and Book Signing 2/9

February 4th, 2011 by Kelly

Brown Bag Lunch and Book Signing 2/9

The Lamson Learning Commons welcomes PSU Professor Emeritus of History, John Allen, for a book event and brown bag luncheon at the library on Wednesday February 9. Dr. Allen will speak on his most recent contribution to the history of skiing, FIS 100 Years of International Skiing, 1910-2010. Winner of the ULLr Award from the International Skiing History Association, the book chronicles and analyzes how the International Ski Federation has managed modern skiing on the world stage. Superbly illustrated, this beautifully produced oversized book contains a century’s worth of mostly color images.

The book event will begin at Noon on the Main Level of the Lamson Learning Commons. Copies of Dr. Allen’s book will be available for purchase and signing. Bring your lunch! Dessert and beverages will be provided.
The Lamson Learning Commons welcomes PSU Professor Emeritus of History, John Allen, for a book event and brown bag luncheon at the library on Wednesday February 9. Dr. Allen will speak on his most recent contribution to the history of skiing, FIS 100 Years of International Skiing, 1910-2010. Winner of the ULLr Award from the International Skiing History Association, the book chronicles and analyzes how the International Ski Federation has managed modern skiing on the world stage. Superbly illustrated, this beautifully produced oversized book contains a century’s worth of mostly color images.

The book event will begin at Noon on the Main Level of the Lamson Learning Commons. Copies of Dr. Allen’s book will be available for purchase and signing. Bring your lunch! Dessert and beverages will be provided.

The Weeks Act and the Creation of the White Mountain National Forest

February 4th, 2011 by Kelly

The Weeks Act and the Creation of the White Mountain National Forest
by
David Govatski
Wednesday February 16, 2011 at 7 PM
Bretzfelder Park Lecture Series
The Rocks Estate in Bethlehem, New Hampshire

The White Mountains have played a key role in the conservation history of the United States—yet that role has often been overlooked. The rugged beauty of the White Mountains inspired the passage of the Weeks Act in 1911. This law gave the federal government — for the first time–the resources to buy land for the purpose of protecting the headwater forests of navigable rivers. During the past century, 52 national forests were created which contain over 25 million acres in 26 eastern states. Without the Weeks Act, we would not have the White Mountain National Forest today.

Join Forest Historian David Govatski for a presentation celebrating the legacy of the Weeks Act a hundred years after its passage. Learn about Lancaster native John Wingate Weeks who sponsored what has been called “one of the most important forest conservation bills in US history”. See historic photos of the early days of the White Mountain National Forest including forest fires and extensive logging that led to the passage of the Weeks Act by Congress on February 15, 1911 and signed by President Taft on March 1, 1911.

The Rocks Estate is managed by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. For more information on the Rocks Estate including directions go to: http://www.therocks.org/