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…

  • When Forester Ray Conarro Moved to Mississippi, Good Things Happened.

    By Guest Contributor on August 31, 2023

    Ray Conarro served as the Forest Supervisor for the National Forests in Mississippi from August 1, 1933–June 30, 1940. This photo appeared in his “Recollections.” Imagine how Ray Conarro (1895–1977) felt when his superiors made him the inaugural supervisor of the Homochitto Purchase Unit in Mississippi—for which no land had yet been purchased. His charge…

  • The Bureau of Land Management at Seventy-Five: Who Will Celebrate with Them?

    By Guest Contributor on March 29, 2022

    In 2021, the Bureau of Land Management turned 75 but with little if any fanfare. Historian James R. Skillen, who’s written extensively about the BLM, reflected upon its history. This article appears in the 2021 issue of Forest History Today. July 16, 2021, was the Bureau of Land Management’s seventy-fifth anniversary, but celebration was probably…

  • Black Woman in Green: Excerpts from Gloria Brown’s Memoir

    By Guest Contributor on February 4, 2021

    In 1999, Gloria Brown became the first female African American forest supervisor in the U.S. Forest Service. Gloria cowrote her memoir Black Woman in Green: Gloria Brown and the Unmarked Trail to Forest Service Leadership (Oregon State University Press, 2020) with Donna Sinclair, who shares her reflections on working with Gloria and excerpts from the memoir….

  • Harold E. Smith’s Forest Service Christmas Story

    By Guest Contributor on December 11, 2020

    “Harold E. Smith’s Forest Service Christmas Story” is by USDA Forest Service historian Rachel D. Kline. As we approach the holiday season in the Forest Service during this unprecedented time, history shows us that our curtailed holiday activities during a difficult time are not really that unprecedented after all. In fact, there are reminders of…

  • “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 Monongahela at 100: How Its Signature Event Changed American Forestry

    By Guest Contributor on April 30, 2020

    The Monongahela National Forest was established on April 28, 1920. Historian Char Miller has adapted a chapter from the book America’s Great National Forests, Wilderness & Grasslands, with photographs by Tim Palmer (Rizzoli, 2016), to mark the centennial.  The banner headline on the front page of the Elkins, West Virginia, newspaper for November 8, 1973,…

  • Carl Schenck and His Life in Lindenfels

    By Guest Contributor on March 25, 2020

    Historian Jameson Karns recently interviewed the two remaining “Schenck boys”—the young boys Carl Alwin Schenck taught and mentored in the aftermath of World War II. They have generously provided hours of interviews for FHS, as well as having donated some of Schenck’s lesson plans, correspondence, love letters, and photos. They provided an intimate look into…

  • Dark Days, Then and Now

    By Guest Contributor on January 24, 2019

    In this guest post, renowned fire historian Stephen Pyne reviews the history of wildland fires in the United States and the policies and strategies various agencies continue operating under before offering some recommendations for dealing with the issue. On May 19, 1780, the skies over New England darkened ominously as an immense pall of smoke…

  • The Continuing Odyssey of “The Forest Fire” Painting

    By James Lewis on September 13, 2017

    The saga of how one of the most famous paintings of a forest fire was created and what happened to it resembles at times an international spy thriller. An article in Forest History Today (“Untamed Art,” Fall 2008) by historian Stephen J. Pyne tracked that mystery but had no ending because no one could say…

  • Collaboration, Inclusivity, and Resilience: Three Birthday Wishes for the Forest Service’s Second Century

    By James Lewis on June 30, 2017

    July 1 marks the anniversary of the U.S. Forest Service’s establishment of the National Forest System in 1907—the day the “federal forest reserves” were renamed “national forests.” Historian Char Miller wants to share his birthday wishes for them. Not every anniversary deserves commemoration. Ordinarily, the 110th birthday of anything would not merit much attention, but…

  • Jack Ward Thomas and the Importance of Ethical Leadership

    By Guest Contributor on June 6, 2016

    As the president of the Pinchot Institute for Conservation from 1995 to 2016, Alaric Sample worked closely with the U.S. Forest Service leadership, including Jack Ward Thomas, who served as chief from 1993 to 1996. He offers his reflections on Chief Thomas’ leadership style.  Jack Thomas’ formal chief’s portrait. A political appointee, he admitted he was uncomfortable…

  • Jack Ward Thomas: A Remembrance

    By Guest Contributor on May 31, 2016

    Jack Ward Thomas served as chief from 1993-1996. (FHS Photo) On May 26, 2016, Jack Ward Thomas lost his battle with cancer. Thomas started his U.S. Forest Service career as research wildlife biologist in 1966 and ended it in 1996 after serving for three years as Chief. Historian Char Miller offers this remembrance. Jack Ward Thomas,…

  • In the Wake of the Ottumwa Belle: From Crisis to Conservation

    By Guest Contributor on August 13, 2015

    On the 100th anniversary of the last log raft floated on the Upper Mississippi River, scholar and Aldo Leopold biographer Curt Meine reflects upon conservation efforts over the last century and the challenges that lay ahead. This summer marks an obscure anniversary in the history of conservation. In August 1915 a large raft of white…

  • "Slow Awakening: Ecology’s Role in Shaping Forest Fire Policy"

    By Guest Contributor on October 16, 2014

    In this article-length guest blog post, retired U.S. Forest Service research forester Stephen F. Arno discusses why fire management is impeded today and says we need to look at the history of fire policy in tandem with the development of the science of disturbance ecology to gain a better understanding of the issue.  Numerous books…

  • "The snow leopard and the dawn of wildlife management in India"

    By Guest Contributor on April 3, 2014

    Roger Underwood has kindly shared with us some research he’s recently done on the history of colonial forestry. It comes from his recent book Foresters of the Raj–Stories from Indian and Australian Forests, an anthology of stories dealing with the evolution of forestry in India during the latter half of the 19th century, and the development…

  • "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…

  • The Mattoons and McLeans: Deep Forestry Roots

    By Guest Contributor on December 3, 2013

    We asked Andy Mason of the National Capital chapter of the Society of American Foresters to share with us what he recently learned about a family with deep forestry roots. Shirley Ann Mattoon was there on September 24, 1963, joining the large crowd that welcomed President John F. Kennedy to Milford, Pennsylvania, and Grey Towers…

  • 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…

  • 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…

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