Peeling Back The Bark

  • Remembering Estella Leopold
    and Her Defense of the Eocene

    By Guest Contributor on March 1, 2024

    Environmental historian Char Miller has shared his reflections on the conservation work of Estella Bergere Leopold, the prominent paleoecologist and conservationist, who died on February 25, 2024, at age 97. Some 34 million years ago, a butterfly died. It was a nymphalid, today the largest family of butterflies (and perhaps then, too). Paleontologists do not…

  • “We Were in Love with the Forest”: Protecting Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve

    By Guest Contributor on November 12, 2020

    This blog post by Ellen Sharp and Will Wright is a working version of an article to be published in the Spring/Fall 2020 issue of our magazine Forest History Today. We are making it available beforehand because of the time sensitivity of the conservation issue it discusses. You can download a draft version of this…

  • The Forest Service Faces a Century-old Call for Equality

    By James Lewis on May 7, 2018

    The following opinion piece by FHS historian James Lewis was originally published by High Country News on April 30, 2018, and is republished here in its entirety. The third applicant was “no gentleman,” the U.S. Forest Service ranger wrote to his boss, but would still make a first-class fire lookout on the remote Klamath National…

  • “New Faces, Same Old Values”: Revisiting a History of Attitudes Towards Women in the Forest Service

    By James Lewis on March 9, 2018

    In light of the recent news about the systemic and system-wide problem of sexual harassment and misconduct throughout the U.S. Forest Service, and other federal land management agencies, it is useful to have some historical perspective. In short, this is not a recent problem. The following excerpt from my book The Greatest Good and the…

  • A Blogpost Unlike Any Other: The Eisenhower Tree, The Masters, and Forest History

    By James Lewis on April 6, 2017

    As the Master’s Tournament gets underway at Augusta National Golf Club this week, one of the icons of the course again will not be there. The famed Eisenhower Tree suffered extensive damage from an ice storm in the winter of 2014 and was removed shortly thereafter. Approximately 65 feet high and 90 years old when…

  • "Bartram’s Boxes Remix" Art Show Opening in May 2014

    By Guest Contributor on February 11, 2014

    We’ve asked Karen Schoenewaldt, Registrar at The Center for Art in Wood, to share with us the exciting work going between the Center and Bartram’s Gardens following a storm that took down many trees at the Gardens. The resulting art exhibition will be touring for the next two years and the Center is soliciting ideas…

  • Stephen J. Pyne: "After The Fire" (op-ed)

    By Guest Contributor on July 9, 2013

    The following post comes to us courtesy of Stephen J. Pyne, an environmental historian who has written extensively about the history of fire and fire policy and is the author of the FHS Issues Series book America’s Fires. This posting originally appeared on the website on July 5. It was written after the Yarnell Fire…

  • Mason County Forest Festival Rolls On

    By Eben Lehman on May 31, 2013

    A parade, a pageant, and Paul Bunyan. These may not be the first three things that come to mind when you think about fire prevention, but residents of Mason County, Washington, back in 1945 had their own unique ideas. To help combat the destructive wildfires in the region — while also promoting the importance of…

  • New Documentary Film on the Life and Legacy of Gifford Pinchot

    By Guest Contributor on February 28, 2013

    We’ve asked Leila Pinchot, a Research Fellow at the Pinchot Institute for Conservation (PIC) and a descendant of Gifford Pinchot, to share her thoughts as the premiere date of a new film about Gifford Pinchot approaches.  Starting in March, keep your eyes peeled for Seeking the Greatest Good: The Conservation Legacy of Gifford Pinchot on…

  • Smokey, Walk Away from the Walk of Fame!

    By James Lewis on October 15, 2012

    Once again, the American voters have gotten it wrong. Once again, they failed to elect Smokey Bear to the Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame in this year’s voting, which closed at the end of September. The iconic bear is just that—ICONIC. He defines the word. His picture could be in the dictionary beside the word to…

  • Why we need Obama's Veterans Conservation Corps (op-ed)

    By James Lewis on March 8, 2012

    The following is an op-ed piece written by FHS staff historian James G. Lewis that appeared in the Asheville Citizen-Times on February 19, 2012. In his State of the Union address last month and again at a recent press event, President Obama touted the idea of “a new conservation program that would help put veterans…

  • Forest History Today issue on the Weeks Act now available

    By James Lewis on March 1, 2012

    The new issue of Forest History Today is now available. It’s all about the Weeks Act, which turns 101 years old today. Forest History Society members have received a copy as a benefit of their membership. If you’re not a member but would like to purchase a copy, contact Andrea by email or by calling…

  • Placing the "Jesus statue in Montana" controversy in a forest history context

    By James Lewis on February 2, 2012

    Over the past several months, U.S. Forest Service officials have become ensnared in controversy over an unusual topic—a mountaintop statue of Jesus Christ on the Flathead National Forest. After some initial hesitation, the Forest Service announced on Tuesday that the nearly 60-year-old statue would remain for another ten years. This was met by an immediate lawsuit…

  • Smokey Bear’s Fire Prevention All-Stars

    By James Lewis on July 12, 2011

    Tonight’s MLB All-Star game in fire-prone Arizona reminds us that Smokey Bear had his own All-Star team back in the 1980s (back when the Pittsburgh Pirates used to have winning seasons). During spring training, Smokey—a Hall of Fame-caliber manager if ever there was one—would pose with players from teams for his own trading cards. Some…

  • Have a Wildfire? Call a Historian

    By James Lewis on June 27, 2011

    In her article, “Fire Alarm: Historians, and Thorstein Veblen, to the Rescue,” Patricia Limerick asked why is it that, when a wildfire breaks out, no one calls a historian? After all, she writes, “what is needed are the ‘skills, talents, and approaches’ of historians and the long perspective that history offers.” Here at PBB HQ,…

  • Reigniting the Green Fire: Aldo Leopold Story Comes to Life

    By Guest Contributor on April 15, 2011

    Curt Meine reflects on the long journey that brought about the making of the new documentary film Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time. Curt worked with Steve Dunsky, Ann Dunsky, and Dave Steinke–the folks who brought you The Greatest Good documentary–on this project. After five years of talking, imagining, brain-storming,…

  • March 1, 1911: Weeks Act Signed into Law

    By Eben Lehman on March 1, 2011

    March 1, 2011, marks the centennial of the Weeks Act—the “organic act” of the eastern national forests. The law has been one of the most successful pieces of conservation legislation in U.S. history. The Weeks Act permitted the federal government to purchase private land in order to protect the headwaters of rivers and watersheds in…

  • Houston, We Have Moon Trees

    By Eben Lehman on February 17, 2011

    Forty years ago last week, Apollo 14 returned from its nine-day journey to the moon and splashed down safely in the Pacific Ocean. The three-man crew consisted of Commander Alan Shepard, Command Module Pilot Stuart Roosa, and Lunar Module Pilot Edgar Mitchell. The Apollo 14 mission was the third successful moon landing, and is mostly…

  • Guest lecturer Nancy Langston on precaution and environmental health

    By Guest Contributor on November 9, 2010

    We’ve asked this year’s Lynn W. Day lecturer Nancy Langston to discuss an aspect of her latest book, Toxic Bodies: Hormone Disruptors and the Legacy of DES (Yale University Press, 2010) as a prelude to her lecture on Nov. 11. Her current research on Lake Superior extends this interest in environmental health to the health…

  • National Forest Products Week: October 17-23, 2010

    By Eben Lehman on October 19, 2010

    This week marks the 50th anniversary of National Forest Products Week, a designation created to recognize the importance of forest products to America’s growth and economic development, as well as the forest industry’s contributions to improved forest management and forest utilization. This annual observance dates back to September 13, 1960, when Congress passed a joint…

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