Peeling Back The Bark

  • 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 AZCentral.com 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…

  • Spring-cleaner, spare that box of old photos!

    By Guest Contributor on February 16, 2012

    Three cheers for the diligence and hard work of archivists! Without their labor it would be next to impossible to write informed historical narrative. In this blog entry, David Brownstein conducts a conversation with Tom Anderson, Provincial Archives of Alberta, and with Peter Murphy, Forest History Association of Alberta, regarding the Canadian Forest History Preservation…

  • “I Would Have Sold it for a Candy Bar” (Weeks Act Series)

    By Guest Contributor on July 14, 2011

    To help celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Weeks Act, we’ve asked Dr. Bob Healy of Duke University’s Nicholas School for the Environment and co-author of classic book, The Lands Nobody Wanted, to write a series of blog posts about the impact of the law. We invite you to join the conversation and post comments…

  • My Favorite Weeks Act Forests

    By Guest Contributor on May 31, 2011

    To help celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Weeks Act, we’ve asked Dr. Bob Healy of Duke University’s Nicholas School for the Environment to write a series of blog posts in which he’ll reflect on his classic book, The Lands Nobody Wanted, and the eastern national forests. This is the 3rd in the series. Fifty…

  • 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,…

  • The Weeks Act Forests: A Bargain and an Investment

    By Guest Contributor on February 24, 2011

    To help celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Weeks Act, we have asked Dr. Bob Healy of Duke University’s Nicholas School for the Environment to write a series of blog posts in which he’ll reflect on his classic book, The Lands Nobody Wanted, and the future of the eastern national forests. This is part 2…

  • Weeks Act Centennial Series: Revisiting “The Lands Nobody Wanted”

    By Guest Contributor on December 3, 2010

    To help celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Weeks Act in 2011, Peeling Back the Bark has asked Dr. Bob Healy of Duke University’s Nicholas School for the Environment to write a series of blog posts in which he’ll reflect on his classic book, The Lands Nobody Wanted, and the future of the eastern national…

  • 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…

  • Notes from the von Salisch Symposium

    By Guest Contributor on August 6, 2010

    Walter Cook shared with us his notes from a recent trip to Poland to attend a symposium on Heinrich von Salisch. Cook and Doris Wehlau translated the 1902 edition of von Salisch’s book Forest Aesthetics, which is available from the Forest History Society. Heinrich von Salisch was a forester who lived in Postel, a hamlet…

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