Some say that the forests of America stand today as silent witness to the effectiveness of Gifford Pinchot's crusade for preservation of our natural resources through managed use. Indeed, the U.S. Forest Service, founded and developed shortly after the turn of the century by Pinchot, endures in modern times as a solution to the crisis that once faced the forests of our nation.
In an era when conservation was new and contrary to generally accepted practice, Pinchot was something of an extremist. The ferocity of his fight for the nation's forest lands and the tenacity of his attachment to his principles evoked the antagonism of the power structure - the exploiters of the nation's wealth.
Pinchot had one crucial ally in his corner: President Theodore Roosevelt. In 1907, Roosevelt designated 16 million acres of new National Forests by proclamation, just minutes before the power to do so was stripped from him by a congressionally mandated amendment to the Agriculture Bill. Pinchot and his field men had worked feverishly within a one-week window of opportunity to gather together all the surveyed land in the states in question and send to Washington the specification and boundary information that President Roosevelt needed to make his last-minute designation. Throughout his life and his career, Pinchot held fast to his notion of the universal interdependence of people and natural resources, and human responsibility for maintaining those resources in good supply and condition. His conservation achievements have helped generations of Americans to live up to that responsibility.
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