History of Watershed Management in the US Forest Service: 1897–2005

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Legal statutes and scientific research have been essential to the Forest Service mission for the past 100 years. Congressional direction for administration of the forest reserves, now called national forests, began in 1897 with passage of the Organic Administration Act. One of the defined purposes for which federal forest lands were set aside from settlement was “securing favorable conditions of water flow.” Since then, more than 25 other federal statutes have further defined watershed management on these lands. The Research branch began watershed experiments in 1910 and did most of the watershed work by the Forest Service until the 1970s. Contributions of key individuals, the Civilian Conservation Corps, the barometer watershed program of the 1960s, and other programs in the National Forest System and the State and Private Forestry branches are examined.

Keywords: barometer watersheds; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; history; natural resource management; natural resources; research watersheds; watershed management

Document Type: Regular Article

Affiliations: National Water Rights and Program Leader USDA Forest Service, WFW 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Mail Stop 1121 Washington DC 20250-1121, Email: sglasser@fs.fed.us

Publication date: July 1, 2005

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.
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