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WEB - Celebrating 100 years of service

by: CENTRAL OREGONIAN - forest service

To celebrate their 100th year of managing our forests, the Forest Service has planned an array of events and activities right here in Central Oregon, as well as across the United States.
   Some of the special celebration events will include a picnic, as well as field trips into the Ochoco National Forest. There will be documentaries shown and the local "Riders in the Dirt Band" will be performing at the High Desert Museum, as well as at the Smithsonian Institution's Folklife Festival.
   To kick off the celebration for the Ochoco National Forest, the A.R. Bowman Museum has a large display of Forest Service tools, equipment, photographs and more. The museum has also dedicated its annual Crook County Historical Society calendar to the Forest Service Centennial.
   "At the start of January we had almost nothing and we started to panic. Then the objects started to come in," said Gordon Gillespie, museum director.
   Gillespie, along with Terri Holtzapple a Forest Service archaeologist, gathered and then carefully displayed the items.
   "We'll have this exhibit for at least a year, unless we can talk people into letting us have it for longer," said Gillespie. "It has been a pretty good partnership with the Forest Service. We have items from the Ochoco National Forest and items from the High Desert Museum and some private donations also."
   The U.S. Forest Service was created on Feb. 1, 1905, after the forest reserves were transferred to the Department of Agriculture (USDA) from the General Land Office in the Department of Interior. More than 63 million acres and 500 employees became part of the Transfer Act when they were moved to the USDA. These employees were trained foresters who were ready to begin managing America's forests. Originally it was called the Agriculture's Bureau of Forestry. Then on July 1, 1905 the name was changed to the Forest Service.
   "Gifford Pinchot, the Chief Forester, almost single handedly created the National Forests. Not totally, but he was the primary moving force," said Larry Timchak, Ochoco National Forest Supervisor. In March 1907, the Fulton Amendment proposed to prohibit President Theodore Roosevelt from creating any more forest reserves in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado. This amendment was meant to take away the President's power and give Congress the authority to establish reserves. Before this bill could be signed into law, President Roosevelt and Pinchot came up with a plan to add new forest reserves. Pinchot, along with Pinchot's assistant Arthur C. Ringland, drew, with a blue pencil, many new forest reserves on maps. Each time a map had a new forest reserve drawn onto it the President would sign the paper to establish another forest reserve. In just two days, March 1 and March 2, Roosevelt established 17 new or combined forest reserves. The new reserves contained more than 16 million acres in the six Western States. They came to be known as the "Midnight Reserves".
   "Without Gifford and his relationship with Teddy Roosevelt there would not have been a successful transfer of the Forest Service from the Interior of Agriculture," said Paul Claeyssens, the Heritage Program manager and forest archaeologist for the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests.
   Since that time, 100 years ago, the Forest Service has grown tremendously and has seen a variety of changes. The Forest Service now manages more than 193 million acres and employs more than 35,000 people.
   The Fulton Amendment, which also changed the name of the "forest reserves" to the "national forests," went into effect on March 7, 1907.
   "The first Rangers and Supervisors really had their hands full. They had these forests that didn't have boundaries marked. They didn't have offices, they didn't have roads. They were just trying to get the forest established with ranger stations, communication lines, roads and trails, and getting the boundaries marked. The first rangers came here right after the sheep and cattle war and there were 340,000 sheep and 30,000 head of cattle in the Ochoco Forest, so they were playing peace makers for a while," said Timchak. "The first couple of decades the rangers were just out there trying to get their arms around the forests." Editor's note: Another story will be in Tuesday's issue.