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U.S. Forest Service History Books

The Forest History Society has long had an interest in documenting the history of the U.S. Forest Service, the federal agency with responsibility for managing the largest number of forested acres in the United States. In addition to maintaining the U.S. Forest Service Headquarters History Collection, FHS has also published numerous materials documenting the history of the agency.

Order Online or print an order form [PDF].


The Greatest Good book cover

The Forest Service and The Greatest Good: A Centennial History

by James G. Lewis

The Forest Service and the Greatest Good: A Centennial History traces the agency's development from its beginnings as a one-man research outfit to today's broad-based operation of over 30,000 employees overseeing 191 million acres of public land. Richly illustrated, The Forest Service and the Greatest Good provides an entertaining and informative account of the Forest Service's first one hundred years as it enters a new century of service.

Order the Book and DVD Together and Save!

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The Greatest Good film

The Greatest Good: A Forest Service Centennial Film

The Greatest Good tells the story of the U.S. Forest Service and the public lands the agency manages. Produced by the U.S. Forest Service and distributed by the Forest History Society, the film weaves historic footage and still photographs with interviews with historians, timber industry and environmental leaders, and Forest Service employees to illuminate the past one hundred years of accomplishments and controversies experienced while managing 191 million acres of America's land. Throughout the film, the question is asked: what is the greatest good?

Narrated by Charles Osgood, the two-hour film is part of a 3-disc DVD set.

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The Greatest Good soundtrack

The Soundtrack to the Documentary "The Greatest Good"

"This Project is dedicated to all the foresters, past and present, for their heroic work in protecting and preserving our National Forests." - Lance Bendiksen, composer and producer.

About the composer:
Brooklyn-born producer and musician Lance Bendiksen's career began on the stage. As the son of a rehearsal pianist mother and an off-Broadway singer father, he easily adapted to the troubador lifestyle. Prior to his role as independent producer, he had performed in over 3000 shows and released four of his own records. Beginning in 1993, as Staff Producer/Studio Manager of Colorado's Avalanche Recording, he worked in conjunction with KBCO to produce studio performances such as Sarah McLachlan and The Cowboy Junkies, while also overseeing numerous recordings for MTV and over two hundred local, regional and national projects.

Lance Bendiksen

In 1996, he created his own company, Bendiksen Productions, as an independent resource for television, radio and film which he expanded in 2001 to include original music production and artist development. In addition to a combined forty years of industry experience in music production, management and publicity, Bendiksen and his staff utilize a large talent pool of A-list session players, engineers and music business professionals. He has been honored with a 2000 Silver Telly (PBS production - There Was A Time), a 1997 Emmy for Best Theme Music (PBS production - Lifewise), an Aurora, and many Colorado Broadcasting Awards.

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Songs on the CD:
1. Grey Towers; 2. Smoke Chaser; 3. Boundary Boys; 4. Learning the Land; 5. Teddy Roosevelt; 6. Pinchot's Theme; 7. Forest Fires; 8. Rangers; 9. Rangers - Solo; 10. Bridges; 11. Cut and Run; 12. Leopold's Theme; 13. Moving West; 14. A Wolf's Story; 15. The Wilderness; 16. For the Greatest Number; 17. In the Long Run; 18. The Funeral; 19. Mann Gulch; 20. The Forest Service Family; 21. Young Pinchot; 22. Elers Koch; 23. White Hats; 24. The Greatest Good; 25. A President's March; 26. The Founding; 27. Reserves.


Forest Management For All book cover

Forest Management for All: State and Private Forestry
in the U.S. Forest Service

by Lincoln Bramwell

Forest Service historian Lincoln Bramwell engagingly captures the branch's history, demonstrating why, time and again, State and Private Forestry was able to overcome numerous challenges to its purpose—and at times its existence—to become the federal leader in providing and coordinating technical and financial assistance to landowners and resource managers. In doing so, says Bramwell, State and Private Forestry became indispensable to "the Forest Service's mission to focus the nation on the value of forest conservation."

Published by the Forest History Society, 2013.  |   i + 103 pp. Illustrations, notes, index.

ISBN softcover (978-0-89030-077-0) : $10.95    |    Order Online


Proceedings of the U.S. Forest Service Centennial Congress: A Collective Commitment to Conservation
(Edited by Steven Anderson)

Convened in January 2005, the U.S. Forest Service Centennial Congress was more than a birthday celebration for America's oldest federal land management agency. It was an occasion to reflect on its past as a starting point for discussing the agency's future. Delegates from industry, the environmental and academic communities, all sorts of user groups, and the agency's partners in government at every level gathered to discuss what that future might hold and what their own stake in it might be. The proceedings demonstrate that there is a wealth of opinion about what the Forest Service should do with the public's land and how it should do it - and even some question of whether the Forest Service should do it. They also make clear that the public's commitment to conservation which led to the agency's creation in 1905 is alive and welll and will help guide the Forest Service as it embarks on its second century.

Steve Anderson is president of the Forest History Society.
ISBN softcover (0-89030-067-1): $24.95
Published in Durham, N.C., by the Forest History Society, 2006; xviii + 494 pp., 59 photos.

CD : Free with $5.00 shipping and handling
Contains the full proceedings from the Congress plus a bonus photo gallery, the full text of the 1905 Proceedings of the American Forest Congress, and the trailer from The Greatest Good: A Forest Service Centennial Film.

To order, contact the Forest History Society at 919-682-9319 or order online.


The Chiefs Remember cover

The Chiefs Remember: The Forest Service 1952 - 2001

by Harold K. Steen

Excerpts from interviews with Forest Service chiefs whose tenures span fifty years. It was a half-century of rapid change and increasing controversy, marked by words that still clang with contention: wilderness, civil rights, public participation, clearcutting, ecosystem management, spotted owl, environmentalist, timber salvage.

ISBN hardcover (0890300640): $29.00 / ISBN softcover (0890300631): $20.00
Published by the Forest History Society, 2005. 156 pp. Ill., index.

Previews of Table of Contents and Introduction.

To order, contact the Forest History Society at 919-682-9319 or order online.


Jack Ward Thomas book cover

Jack Ward Thomas: The Journals of a Forest Service Chief

edited by Harold K. Steen

Forest Service chief during the early years of the Clinton administration, Thomas kept journals of his thoughts and daily experiences. The issues Thomas dealt with lie at the heart of recent Forest Service policy and controversy, starting with President Clinton's Timber Summit in Portland, Oregon, dealing with the spotted owl issue, and the 1994 loss of fourteen firefighters in the Storm King Mountain fire in Colorado.

Softcover: $30.00
Published by the Forest History Society, 2004. 417 pp. Ill., index.

To order, contact the Forest History Society at 919-682-9319 or order online.


US Forest Service: A History book cover

The U.S. Forest Service: A History

by Harold K. Steen

With a new preface by the author, this edition of the classic history (originally published in 1976) provides a broad perspective on the Service's administrative and policy controversies and successes. Steen updates the book with discussions of the spotted owl issue; wilderness and roadless areas; new research on habitat, biodiversity, and fire prevention; below-cost timber sales; and workplace diversity in a male-oriented field.

ISBN hardcover (9780295983738): $40.00 / ISBN softcover (9780295984025) : $25.00
Published by the Forest History Society, 2004. xix + 145 pp.

To order, contact the Forest History Society at 919-682-9319 or order online.


Diaries of Gifford Pinchot cover

The Conservation Diaries of Gifford Pinchot

edited by Harold K. Steen

Diary entries of conservationist and forester Gifford Pinchot (1865-1946), describing his work as the first chief of the United States Forest Service, his relationship with President Teddy Roosevelt, his influence on forest policies and politics, and his interaction with prominent contemporaries such as botanist Charles Sargent, preservationist John Muir, and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted.

ISBN hardcover (9780890300596): $29.00
Published by the Forest History Society, 2001. 230 pp. Ill., names index.

To order, contact the Forest History Society at 919-682-9319 or order online.


Forest Service Research book cover

Forest Service Research: Finding Answers to Conservation's Questions

by Harold K. Steen

Traces the early years of U.S. Forest Service research efforts, how the program strove for independence, the expansion of research efforts, and how the research has related to the environment.

ISBN softcover (9780890300565) : $10.95
Published by the Forest History Society, 1998. v + 102 pp. Ill., bibliography, index.

To order, contact the Forest History Society at 919-682-9319 or order online.


View From the Top book cover

View From the Top: Forest Service Research

by R. Keith Arnold, Murlyn B. Dickerman, and Robert E. Buckman

View From the Top features oral history interviews with three former U.S. Forest Service deputy chiefs of research regarding fire prevention, forest experiment stations, forestry research, international forestry, the Society of American Foresters, the International Society of Tropical Foresters, and the International Union of Forestry Research Organizations.

ISBN softcover (9780890300497) : $13.00
Published by the Forest History Society, 1994. xiv + 365 pp.

To order, contact the Forest History Society at 919-682-9319 or order online.