Archive for December, 2010

Here at PBBWHQ (Peeling Back the Bark World Headquarters), we’re perfectly giddy with the holiday spirit. The lights are up, the tree is lit, and Alvin J. Huss is watching over us.

Alvin reports to Santa on which FHS staffers have been naughty and which have been nice.

We’re so caught up in the season that we thought we’d share our version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” with you. (Some may think we’re inflicting it on you. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder–and this version is a beaut!) So click on the slide show and sing along. In the interest of time and sanity, we’ve cut straight to the twelfth day and started the countdown there. If you want to know more about the individual images, we’ve included the photo ID number for those images that have them in each caption. You can then look them up in our Image Database by jotting down the number, going to the database, and plugging the number into the Quick Search field.

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HAPPY HOLIDAYS from all of us at the Forest History Society!

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Everyone knows Smokey Bear, Woodsy Owl, and maybe even Ranger Rick Raccoon, but there are many other forest and forestry-related fictional characters that long ago fell by the wayside. We here at Peeling Back the Bark would like to shed some light on a few of these forgotten characters, discussing their place in forest history and showcasing them to modern audiences.

Featuring Woody imageOne such forgotten character is Woody, a walking, talking log of wood who first came about through a forest products industry public relations campaign during the early 1940s. The creation of Woody is credited to American Forest Products Industries (AFPI) – an organization created in 1932 as a trade promotion subsidiary of the National Lumber Manufacturers’ Association (in later years AFPI would be renamed the American Forest Institute and would go on to become part of the American Forest & Paper Association in 1992). The main role of AFPI was to fund and distribute research and promotional projects relating to lumber and other wood products industries. In 1941, in response to negative public opinion about forest industries as well as the threat of federal regulation, a formal “Forest Industries Public Relations Program” was launched under the guidance of AFPI’s Public Relations Committee.

One of the first tasks for this new public relations program was to design various forest products advertising campaigns. These ready-made ads were designed for use in newspapers and allowed forest products companies to provide educational messages to their local communities. The first ads began circulating in 1942, carrying messages about the importance of forests as a natural resource. In 1944 a character named “Woody” first appeared in the AFPI advertising campaign. This log of wood with arms and legs proved to be immensely popular, and continued to be added to subsequent editions of AFPI advertisement books.

Introducing Woody advertisement

A 1944 press release from AFPI announced the debut of the Woody character, describing him as “a smiling, animated log.” As part of an industry-wide public information campaign Woody served as a symbol of forest products, good forestry, managed woodlands, tree farming, and more. Because of the time period, many of the Woody ads from this first series included wartime tie-ins.

Woody wartime advertisement

After the war Woody evolved into a figure of forest fire prevention, and later became a symbol of the national Keep Green Movement. (more…)

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To help celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Weeks Act in 2011, Peeling Back the Bark has asked Dr. Bob Healy of Duke University’s Nicholas School for the Environment to write a series of blog posts in which he’ll reflect on his classic book, The Lands Nobody Wanted, and the future of the eastern national forests. We invite you to join the conversation and post comments for Bob to respond to.

In 1977 (thirty-three years ago!) the late forest policy analyst Bill Shands and I did a book for The Conservation Foundation, the Washington, DC–based “think tank” where we both worked. Entitled The Lands Nobody Wanted: Policy for National Forests in the Eastern U.S., it provided nearly 300 pages of history, identification of issues, and a policy framework Land Nobody Wanted cover imagethat our non-partisan conservation organization set out for the 50 national forests, then totaling 24 million acres, in the Northeast, South, and Lake States. Nearly all of these forests got their start with Weeks Act purchases. We called the book “The Lands Nobody Wanted” because so much of this land, particularly before 1950, was considered of little or no economic value. Much of it was abandoned farmland—hilly, infertile, and heavily eroded. We noted that “land abandoned by owners who could not pay the taxes was acquired by the government very cheaply. Local people were desperate for any activity that would pump money into a community, so they welcomed establishment of forests which provided for federal investment in otherwise unused land and generated badly needed jobs. And national forests provided a work place for President Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps.” (p. 16)

By the time we published our book, these forests were very much in demand—for timber supply, for local and national recreation, for wildlife and wilderness. Bill Shands and I analyzed these forces, how they arose over time and where they seemed to be taking the forests. As part of our learning process, we convened meetings of 50 or so diverse stakeholders at four places: Warrenton, VA (national level organization); Uniontown, PA; Atlanta; and Waterville Valley, NH. Participants included national and local timber organizations, environmental groups, local elected officials, and federal and state land managers.

Recently, Steve Anderson asked me to reflect on our work, as part of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Weeks Act. I welcomed the opportunity, in part because of curiosity about the changes that have occurred both in the demands on these forests and the management response. But I was also interested in how well the policy recommendations made toward the end of our book have fared over time. Which were adopted? What were the consequences? Were our recommendations able to accommodate changes in the economic and social context of these national forests?

Bill and I did not state this explicitly in the book, but our “policy planning horizon”—how far in the future we tried to look in making our recommendations—was about 30 years. So reviewing the topics covered in the book 33 years after publication will be a tough test of how well our work has fared. I’d also like to speculate as to the future role of these forests—again with an arbitrary 30-year time horizon—and perhaps comment on policies that might make that role as constructive as possible, both from a resource protection standpoint and from the perspective of human uses.

I will be adding to this blog over the course of the year to come, and I encourage comments, ideas, and reactions from anyone interested in the fascinating and important “Weeks Act” forests, as well as in the National Forests of the East, Midwest and South in general. The Lands Nobody Wanted will be my personal jumping off point, but it needn’t be yours. Any comment on the history, management, context, and (especially) the future of these forests would be most welcome.

But just to kick off this first blog entry in an organized way, let me pose some questions to readers: How has management and use of the forest(s) that you know best changed since 1977?  Are there still nearby communities dependent on National Forest timber?  Or, given the number of mill closures, are there timber-dependent communities at all?  Has your forest been influenced by any new uses, such as snowmobiles, building of rural retirement communities, or the shale gas boom?  You know the territory best, and I hope you will be this blog’s eyes and ears!

About the authors of The Lands Nobody Wanted:
William E. Shands continued to work on forest policy at The Conservation Foundation until his untimely death from cancer in 2004, at age 60. After working on The Lands Nobody Wanted, he produced books and reports on federal lands and their neighbors, Lake States forests, below-cost timber sales, and the effect of climate change on American forests. Bob Healy remained at the Foundation until 1986, writing books on the market for rural land, the California Coastal Commission, and “Competition for Land in the American South.” In 1986 he joined the faculty of Duke University, where he has taught courses on land use, environmental policy, tourism and protected areas, and international environmental management. He served as the Director of Duke’s Center for International Studies and its Center for North American Studies, and helped start the Program in International Development Policy. In 2007, he became Professor Emeritus of Environmental Policy in Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and the Terry Sanford School of Public Policy. He continues to write (most recently Knowledge and Environmental Policy, MIT Press, 2010) and to teach at the Nicholas School. He remains fascinated by forests, and has been a board member of the Forest History Society since 2004.

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