Posts Tagged ‘National Park Service’

We recently received an advanced copy of the new Ken Burns film, The National Parks – America’s Best Idea, which begins airing on PBS starting Sunday, September 27.  You can see images from the FHS Archives in the first three episodes and our name in the credits.  (By the way, if you can’t get to your TV when those air, the PBS website will be streaming the video of each episode after it airs.)

As we watched here at the Peeling Back the Bark World Headquarters for our images to appear in the film, we got to talking about other films in which our moving footage and still images have appeared.  Of course, tops on the list is The Greatest Good: A Forest Service Centennial Film.  (Normally, I’d say, Buy the book – don’t wait for the movie. But in this case, I say, Buy them both and now!)  Footage from the two films we’ve produced, Up in Flames and Timber on the Move, has appeared in a number of documentaries and television shows over the years.  Our images have appeared in films as varied as Hank Williams: Honky Tonk Blues to Fungi: Pennsylvania’s Hidden Treasures.  Below the photos that we think appear in The National Parks is a partial list of video projects with images or footage from our archive.

The other thing we discussed is how FHS expertise has been used in productions.  Sometimes it’s in a very hands-on manner, as with The Greatest Good.  That was fun because two of us were involved in reviewing the script and rough cuts of the film, and we were listed individually by name in the final credits.  Other times, we’ve been asked to do research that finds its way into scripts.  The latter is true for an upcoming History Channel show, America: the Story of US.  You can see the results of that in the spring.

Here are just a few of our images to look for in the Ken Burns film.




Sheep grazing

And here’s a list of some of the other productions in which our archival material has appeared:

– On PBS, from the American Masters series – Hank Williams: Honky Tonk Blues.  Hank briefly worked as a logger.

Firestorm: The Fire Suppression Paradox, follows a firecrew from Ontario who joined with firefighters from the U.S. and other jurisdictions to fight a fire in the Bitterroot Valley, Montana, in the summer of 2000.

Chief Mountain Hotshots: Firefighters of the Blackfeet Nation tells the history of one of the most respected Hotshot crews in the country.

The Forest Where We Live – The Series (Louisiana Public Broadcasting)

The Ultimate 10 Dangerous Jobs (“Ultimate 10” series on TLC) – has footage of smokejumping from Up in Flames.

Fungi: Pennsylvania’s Hidden Treasures is an award-winning full-length documentary produced by the State of Pennsylvania’s DCNR’s Wild Resource Conservation Program and Commonwealth Media.

The Lord God Bird documentary film is about the ivory-billed woodpecker.

– The History Channel Toolbox Series – the episode on Mechanic’s Tools and Chainsaws.

– The History Channel series Modern Marvels – “Logging Technology” episode has footage from Timber on the Move.

– And for the upcoming 12-hour series on the History Channel, America: The Story of US, we conducted research and provided background material on 19th-century log drives in the upper Midwest.

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In 1964, Congress created the Public Land Law Review Commission “to explore how to simplify public land laws and make administering them more effective.”  Now, forty-five years later, the General Accounting Office has released a report on the pros and cons of moving the Forest Service from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of the Interior.  (The full report and a condensed version are available online.)

The reorganization discussion pops up about once a decade.  The four most recent explorations of how to reconcile the management of federal lands between the two Cabinet-level departments all resulted in recommendations that were never acted on.  (Materials related to these and other earlier efforts are listed under “Reorganization” on our U.S. Forest Service History hub.)

The latest exploration, the GAO report released last month, offers no recommendations but sheds light on the problems and benefits of moving the Forest Service to Interior.  If anything, the emphasis on the lack of short-term gains led me to infer this report as a tacit endorsement of not reorganizing but rather for the four major land management agencies (the Forest Service under USDA and the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Fish and Wildlife Service in Interior) to simply work harder at cooperating and coordinating their efforts.

Congress asked the GAO to look into the matter because “the emergence of new challenges for both the Forest Service and Interior during a time of severe budgetary constraint, as well as the growing need for agencies to collaborate on large-scale natural resource problems, has revived interest in the potential for improving federal land management and program efficiency and effectiveness.”  They were asked specifically “to describe (1) how federal land management
would potentially be affected by moving the Forest Service into Interior and (2) what factors should be considered if Congress and the administration were to decide to move the Forest Service into Interior and what management practices could facilitate such a move.”

The report explores the cultural, organizational, and legal factors the government would need to consider if the move were made.  One concern is the impact the move might have on the Forest Service’s role in state and private land management — a mission focus the agency shares with USDA but doesn’t have in common with Interior.  (See pages 16-19 of the full report for more.)  Not surprisingly, Interior Department reviewers of the report observed “that a move would not necessarily diminish the Forest Service’s role in state and private forestry or cause the Forest Service to modify its current role.”  The Forest Service and various stakeholders disagree with that sentiment.  All reviewers from both departments agreed, however, that the Forest Service mission aligns well with the Bureau of Land Management’s multiple-use mission and a move to Interior could “increase the overall effectiveness of some of the agencies’ programs and policies.”  The obstacles for moving are many but not are insurmountable.  Yet the report’s focus on the expected limited short-term benefits makes them seem insurmountable.

It would, perhaps, have been more fruitful if in asking for this investigation Congress had not limited the GAO to the one question of moving the Forest Service to Interior.  It should have given the GAO the authority to look at the entire issue: what would be involved in moving some agencies or responsibilities to Agriculture under the Forest Service; moving some but not all of the Forest Service’s responsibilities (like grazing) to Interior; or if the two departments were combined.  Looking at only one question leaves the other ones to go begging.

In my opinion, by limiting the investigation, the GAO virtually assured that no new models or proposals could emerge.  Furthermore, this limited focus meant that the report would almost immediately begin gathering dust instead of beginning a much-needed conversation about how to manage public and private lands in the 21st century and beyond.

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Veterans Day poster

Since 1919, Americans have honored their servicemen and women on November 11.  Originally established as Armistice Day, President Woodrow Wilson declared a day of remembrance on the anniversary of the cessation of hostilities between the Allies and Germany. In so doing, Wilson exalted the “heroism of those who died in the country’s service” in World War I.  In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower extended this homage to American veterans of all wars.  Thus, on Veterans Day, Americans pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of the nation’s men and women in uniform.

In recent conflicts, more than 30,000 returning troops have been wounded, many severely.  These United States soldiers and their families face medical, psychological, and economic challenges as a result of the injuries and traumas endured.  They also contend with readjustment issues as the soldiers transition to civilian life.

Through a recently established partnership with the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), the National Park Service will provide enhanced programs and services for injured military members.  In addition to identifying a variety of activities and locations for WWP programs, the National Park Service will provide information on employment opportunities for veterans and their families.

“The words of Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address . . . remind all of us ‘to care for him who shall have borne the battle,'” remarked National Park Service Director Mary A. Bomar.  “National parks are places of refuge and inspiration.  I am thrilled that this partnership will allow more veterans to be rejuvenated by the serenity, beauty, and recreational opportunities found in parks.”

The first collaborative project took place in October 2008.  Twelve returned soldiers and five staff and counselors traveled to Acadia National Park in Maine.  For four days, the group engaged in outdoor activities to build trust and to regain a sense of self-confidence.

“We take our young men and women who think their life is over and we show them life doesn’t stop at the hospital,” WWP national service director John Roberts explained to The Ellsworth American.

In 2002, a group of veterans responded to news coverage of the first wounded service members returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq by founding the Wounded Warrior Project.  WWP began delivering backpacks with essential care and comfort items to veterans at military trauma centers.  The organization expanded its program to include wilderness trips for veterans after they have left the hospital.  Now, with the new partnership between WWP and the National Park Service, discharged veterans will bike, hike, kayak, and rock climb in America’s national parks to continue rehabilitation and to build life skills they can take back to their home communities.

For more information, please visit:

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Today marks the 150th birthday of Theodore Roosevelt.  Considered one of our greatest presidents, it’s not for nothing that he’s on Mount Rushmore and still widely admired around the world.  He packed a lot of living into his sixty years.  An avid outdoorsman and naturalist, you can add cowboy, cattle rancher, sheriff, big-game hunter, war hero, conservationist, author, explorer, reformer, and Progressive — to name a few — to his list of jobs and accomplishments.  He’s known as the “Rough Rider” or the “Trustbuster,” but don’t call him “Teddy” — he didn’t like the name.

We celebrate Roosevelt here at FHS because of his importance to many areas of forest and conservation history.  He first published as a naturalist while still in college; most of his publications in the field still hold up well.  He was a co-founder of the Boone and Crockett Club, which fought to protect big-game habitats beginning in the 1890s.  While governor of New York (1898-1900), he pushed for scientific forest management of the Adirondack Forest Preserve and “also stressed the need for more qualified game wardens and enforcement of game laws, the importance of controlling forest fires, and, true to his ornithological interests, protection of song birds in the state.”*  And as U.S. president (1901-09), he built a solid foundation for the conservation and preservation of natural resources, adding millions of acres to the National Forest System, and establishing or expanding numerous national parks and monuments.  He also created the wildlife refuge system.  In sum, Theodore Roosevelt’s significance in American conservation history cannot be overstated.

Sketch of Theodore Roosevelt, by Rudy Wendelin

This sketch by Rudy Wendelin is from the FHS U.S. Forest Service History collection.

Celebrations will take place today at six different national parks or national historic sites that bear Roosevelt’s name or likeness: his birthplace in Manhattan; his home on Long Island, Sagamore Hill; the site of his inauguration in Buffalo, N.Y.; Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the Badlands of North Dakota, where he had his cattle ranch; Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota; and Theodore Roosevelt Island in Washington, D.C.  The National Park Service will be commemorating his life and accomplishments throughout the coming year at these sites as well as at the parks and the eighteen national monuments he created.  Celebrations will also be held at units of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service, founded by Roosevelt in 1903 and 1905 respectively.width="134"

In the upcoming issue of Forest History Today, the Biographical Portrait column examines Roosevelt’s place in forest and conservation history.  You can also learn a bit about his thinking on conservation policies by reading another article on TR from a past issue of FHT featured in a previous posting.  (Yes, he’s THAT important!)

* Brown, David P. “The Conservationist: T. Roosevelt/Pataki Article.” http://www.trthegreatnewyorker.com/Naturalist/nc-c.htm

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