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gifford pinchot

Silent Cultural Symbols that Speak Volumes

Quietly waiting for you in our national forests and grasslands are what remains of long past civilizations and cultures. Some of these sites still have direct spiritual or cultural meaning to folks today while others are a complete mystery of what once was of a vanished people. Yet, in both cases, the adventurer is reminded of the centuries-old relationship between people and the land.

It’s this relationship between land and people that gives the U.S. Forest Service such pride in knowing that we protect these irreplaceable symbols that ancient peoples left to us. These near mystical treasures can be found from the Olympic National Forest in Washington State to the Dakota Prairie Grasslands of North Dakota to the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest of Virginia.

Conservation versus Preservation?

Have you ever wondered why your favorite National Park is surrounded by a National Forest? Well, it didn’t happen by accident or guesswork. The fact is, it was all started over 100 years ago by two men I like to refer to as the founding fathers of America’s public lands.

Back at the turn of the 20th Century Gifford Pinchot and John Muir had radically contrasting views of how to manage America’s wild lands and they worked tirelessly lobbying Congress and convincing Presidents to agree with them to start protecting open space.

Muir promoted preservation and Pinchot advocated for conservation.

Forest Service Celebrates 150th Birthday of Founder

The life in which US Forest Service founder Gifford Pinchot was born into wasn’t much different than what millions of Downton Abby fans have come to know through that popular PBS period drama:  huge homes, servants and vast expanses of lands where the accoutrements of many in Pinchot’s class.

And, on Aug. 11, 1865, the infant named Gifford, born in Connecticut and raised at the Pinchot family’s ancestral home, Grey Towers, would seem to follow the “normal” trajectory of his highborn status. This he did. But not how many of his contemporaries did. Instead of taking over the family business, Gifford went after another passion and he changed the world.

Latino Youth Conservation Leaders, Forest Service Leaders Share Blissful Experience of Transformational Conservation Successes

(Editor’s note: Luis Cruz is a youth conservation leader with Latino Legacy and PLT GreenSchools!, part of the Houston East End Greenbelt project. These projects are part of an eight-year partnership with the U.S. Forest Service Friends of the National Forests and Grasslands of Texas-Latino Legacy program, which promotes conservation education to diverse audiences in urban schools and communities surrounding national forests. Cruz was part of a group that came to Washington, D.C. to participate in a week-long program designed to connect youth to nature and establish a conservation ethic. The program also develops educational and career pathways in natural resources.)

By Luis Angel Cruz, Senior, Furr High School, GreenSchools! Co-op Green Ambassador Captain and Curriculum Lead, Houston, Texas

Meeting with the Chief and the executive leadership team of the U.S. Forest Service in March was like meeting your all-time favorite super heroes!

We are high school, middle school and college students and educators who are energized and alive with ideas to continue making a difference as part of our working partnership with U.S. Forest Service leaders to promote conservation education to Latino and diverse audiences.

The Greatest Good

I was asked recently what the Forest Service mission meant to me. There are three words that always come to mind any time I think about what we do … the greatest good.

Founder of the Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot said that where conflicting interests must be reconciled, the question shall always be answered from the standpoint of the greatest good of the greatest number in the long run.

Our mission is varied and complex, but the concept of doing our best for the largest amount of people is much simpler. We will always strive to do the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people.

Under Secretary Bonnie Tells World Congress of Scientists Their Work will Light the Way to Better Forest Management

Confronting climate change will be substantially cheaper and easier if we conserve forests, and the key to that is expert knowledge and science, Undersecretary of Natural Resources and the Environment Robert Bonnie told thousands of attendees at the recent 24th World Congress of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“A healthy and prosperous planet depends on the health of our natural resources and, in particular, on the conservation of the world’s forests,” Bonnie told the crowd, which included 2,492 delegates from 100 countries.  “But our success in conserving, managing and restoring our forests depends to a significant degree on a solid foundation of science and research.”

US Forest Service Waives Fees in Support of the Largest, Single-Day Volunteer Effort on Public Lands

As the waning, sweltering summer days transition to the cooler weather of autumn many people take the opportunity to give back by participating in the annual National Public Lands Day.

The Sept. 27 event, in its 21st year, is the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer effort in support of public lands. Last year, more than 175,000 volunteers at 2,237 sites worked hard, collected an estimated 23,000 pounds of invasive plants, planted about 100,000 trees, shrubs and other native plans and removed an estimated 500 tons of trash.

Celebrating Grey Towers' Golden Anniversary

A beautiful, blue stone mansion with its slate roof and turrets, known as Grey Towers, in Milford, Pa. has been a sanctuary for visitors from around the world to learn about conservation and natural resources.

Fifty years ago on Sept. 24, 1963, President John F. Kennedy dedicated the Grey Towers National Historic Site and the Pinchot Institute for Conservation Studies as a “living memorial” to America’s first forester and two-term Pennsylvania governor, Gifford Pinchot.

History and Research Converge in American Chestnut Reintroduction

You may start out wanting to talk to Leila Pinchot about a Forest Service icon, but the great granddaughter of Gifford Pinchot has much more to say about the future of another legend, the American chestnut.

One of the seminal figures in world conservation, Gifford Pinchot founded and served as the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service. The eastern forests we know today are distinctly different than the forests Gifford Pinchot would have known 100 years ago – they are missing the American chestnut, which dominated forests in the eastern United States.

Future Forest Service Leaders Learn About Agency History

Imagine men mounted on horses, armed with rifles and sidearms, patrolling millions of acres of public land. These men were typical U.S. Forest Service rangers over a century ago. This is how the Forest Service first approached forest management.

Forest Service historian Dr. Lincoln Bramwell recently shared the history of the Forest Service to the agency’s Class of 2011 Presidential Management Fellows, a federal government leadership development program.