Peeling Back The Bark

  • President bans Christmas tree from White House!

    By James Lewis on December 1, 2019

    (First published in 2008, this blog posted was updated in 2012 and, after finding the letters to his sisters on the Theodore Roosevelt Center’s website, again in 2016 and 2019.)

    Around the internet, there are innumerable articles about how Theodore …

  • “Madam Secretary” and the Gifford Pinchot Connection

    By James Lewis on November 21, 2019

    I’d never seen the TV series Madam Secretary until this week. Now in its sixth season, former secretary of State Elizabeth McCord is president of the United States. The character’s concern about climate change makes it unsurprising to see landscape …

  • 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 …

  • Honoring America’s First Forester on His 150th Birthday

    By James Lewis on August 11, 2015

    The following is an op-ed piece by FHS staff historian James G. Lewis that appeared in the Asheville Citizen-Times on August 9, 2015, in honor of Gifford Pinchot’s 150th birthday on August 11. 

    Born just after the guns of the …

  • 7/31/1865: Austin Cary, the Father of Southern Forestry, Born

    By James Lewis on July 31, 2015

    Austin Cary, one of the great unsung heroes of American forestry, was born this date in 1865 in East Machias, Maine. A Yankee through and through, he found professional success in the South, eventually becoming known as the "Father of …

  • "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

  • Schenck Documentary Now In Production!

    By James Lewis on August 14, 2014

    What began as a millionaire’s dream, a genius’s vision, and a forester’s labor is now being captured in a Forest History Society documentary film. This spring the Forest History Society joined forces with Bonesteel Films to produce First in Forestry

  • 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, …

  • "The Day JFK Was Here": Pinchot Institute Dedicated 9/24/1963

    By James Lewis on September 13, 2013

    By Dan Dwyer, Port Jervis Union-Gazette¹

    MILFORD, Penn., Sept. 24—

    The helicopter landed exactly on time. It was 1 p.m.

    The door opened and became a ramp and this man came out.

    It was the start of a hectic 70-minute …

  • Gifford Pinchot’s "Ten Commandments"

    By James Lewis on July 16, 2013

    A short time ago, my co-blogger Eben received a query from someone asking for "GP’s 10 commandments." He had not heard of this and passed the query along to me. "GP" is Gifford Pinchot, and as you probably know, he …

  • 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 …

  • What’s On Your Forest History Vacation Bucketlist?

    By James Lewis on September 11, 2012

    I’ve just returned from Connecticut, where I spent time at Yale University conducting research in the Yale Forest School papers and also visited Simsbury, birthplace of Gifford Pinchot, to see the world premiere of the new film, Seeking the Greatest

  • "On April 5, 1895, I passed the Statue of Liberty…"

    By James Lewis on April 5, 2012

    On this date in 1895, Carl Schenck arrived from Germany to the United States to replace Gifford Pinchot as forester at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. Three days after arriving in New York, Schenck met with Pinchot, then …

  • Teddy Roosevelt, “Uncle Remus,” and Supporting the Weeks Act

    By James Lewis on October 8, 2010

    One hundred years ago today, on October 8, 1910, former president Theodore Roosevelt addressed the Southern Conservation Congress in Atlanta, Georgia. Roosevelt was just one of many speakers during the two-day meeting called to "discuss the problems of utilizing to …

  • February 18, 1909: North American Conservation Conference is held

    By James Lewis on February 18, 2010

    In one of his last acts as president, Theodore Roosevelt convened the North American Conservation Conference on this date 101 years ago. This event might ring a bell for faithful followers of the blog. The conference and its legacy were …

  • Gifford Pinchot and the Search for "Permanent Peace"

    By James Lewis on January 11, 2010

    The following is an op-ed piece that appeared in the Raleigh News and Observer on January 3, 2010. It was co-authored by FHS staff historian James G. Lewis and FHS member and professor of environmental history Char Miller.

    Getting together…
  • April 15, 1920: Greeley Named Forest Service Chief

    By James Lewis on April 15, 2009

    When William B. Greeley was appointed as the third chief of the U.S. Forest Service on April 15, 1920, he was already embroiled in a fight over the future of American forestry and private forests. Greeley’s lengthy and distinguished Forest …

  • February 22, 1897: Cleveland Celebrates Washington by Foreshadowing Roosevelt

    By James Lewis on February 22, 2009

    On this day in 1897, President Grover Cleveland signed an executive order creating the Washington Birthday Reserves.  He proclaimed 13 new or expanded forest reserves in the western United States, totaling some 21 million acres; it brought the total acreage …

  • Who should the president appoint to his cabinet?

    By James Lewis on January 16, 2009

    As President-elect Barack Obama’s cabinet nominees are being finalized with little controversy, we here at Peeling Back the Bark can’t help but think back one hundred years ago and wonder what might have happened if, as newspapers speculated, Gifford Pinchot …

  • November 30, 1900: Society of American Foresters Founded

    By Amanda T. Ross on November 30, 2008

    On this day in history, leading conservationist Gifford Pinchot and six other foresters founded the Society of American Foresters in Washington, D.C.  In its 108-year history, the Society has grown to become the largest professional organization for foresters in the …

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