“Use of the National Forests of the West for Public Recreation”

E.A. Sherman’s July 1916, publication in the Proceedings of the Society of American Foresters, advocated that the Forest Service sanction the “non-use” of recreation as the “highest use” of certain forest lands. Sherman foresaw a time when recreational planning would be of utmost importance to his agency’s lands program.

Sherman wrote, “The rallying cry of ‘use,’ as later modified by the slogan that each tract of land within the National Forests should be put to its highest use, is being further modified, until we are beginning to realize that in some instances the highest use may include what many practical men would consider nonuse As Rock Creek Park is being put to its highest use at the present time, while maintained as a place for the benefit and enjoyment of all the people of Washington [D.C.], as it stands a perpetual invitation to enjoy God’s sunlight and fresh air and nature’s abundant beauties, so for a number of years it has been dawning upon us that many areas within the National Forests will similarly, in the fullness of time, be put to their ‘highest use’.”

“[F]orest officers in that district [of the Oregon National Forest] found that the greatest value of these areas consisted in the benefit which might be derived from them by the people of the City of Portland and other residents of Oregon, and, in fact, people from every State in the Union, in connection with the enjoyment of the public highway. This self-evident truth, which before the construction of the road would have been scouted as a visionary dream, was immediately recognized by every one. It resulted in the Secretary of Agriculture formally proclaiming 13,873 acres as the Columbia Gorge Park Division of the Oregon National Forest, classifying it as chiefly valuable for public recreation and use in connection with the use of the scenic highway, and solemnly dedicating it to that purpose.”

“The construction of a reservoir in the high Sierras has put a new lake on the map. Huntington Lake, in the Sierra National Forest, is an artificial lake resulting from a dam constructed by a hydro-electric power company, and is only one of many such monuments which give the lie to the charge that you can not secure development of water power under Government regulation.”

“So far as the Branch of Lands [of the Forest Service] is concerned, I believe that in the future the recreational use and development will be our most important line of work.”


Sherman, E.A. July 1916. “Use of the National Forests of the West for Public Recreation,” in Proceedings of the Society of the American Foresters, vol. XI (3): 293-296.