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Forest Service Region 5

Between the years 2004 - 2009 the United States Forest Service Region 5 retirees’ oral history committee, with financial and logistical support from the Regional Forester, conducted interviews with Forest Service retirees. The resulting oral histories thematically addressed key themes—Forest Careers, Community, Timber Management, Changing Workforce, Fire Control, and Public Relations—that have helped shape the region’s and nation’s Forest Service in the latter half of the twentieth-century. Completion of the project was overseen by the oral history committee who in turn utilized members of the region’s past workforce as interviewers to conduct and record over 150 oral interviews. Completed interviews were then professionally transcribed and lightly edited. As a means to provide accessibility to the interviews the committee entered into a collaborative agreement with the University of California at Berkeley’s Regional Oral History Office (ROHO) to publish two volumes of edited oral history from the project—The Lure of the Forest: Oral Histories from the National Forests In California (2005) and The Unmarked Trail: Managing National Forests in a Turbulent Era (2009). Under the agreement ROHO Associate Director Victor W. Geraci, PhD selected interview segments, lightly edited them, and provided advice on the historical narrative to help contextualize the interview clips based upon the selected themes. The resulting manuscript narratives reflect the individual and collective memory of how the Service navigated dramatic policy, personnel, scientific, legal, legislative and budgetary changes to arrive at a modern version of Gifford Pinchot’s maxim of “wise use.”  The agreement also provided for the web-page mounting of many of the complete interviewee transcripts.

Interviews

Project Resources

Publications

The Lure of the Forest: Oral Histories from the National Forests In California (2005)

Book cover image for The Lure of the ForestIn preparation for the Forest Service’s one-hundredth anniversary, Region Five retirees, with financial and logistical support from the Regional Forester, established an oral history committee to interview over fifty retirees and publish the edited portions of the interviews as part of a collaborative agreement with the University of California at Berkeley’s Regional Oral History Office (ROHO). Victor W. Geraci, PhD,  ROHO Associate Director, then selected interview segments and lightly edited them for publication and prepared contextual narrative. 

The selected interview clips provide the narrative for the common recurring themes that reflected how past employees remembered their service to the forest and the struggles they faced in the course of their careers. In the first part, “The Lure of the Forest,” we listen to stories that detail why both men and women joined the Forest Service and what motivated young people to dedicate their lives to stewardship of our forest resources. Part two, “Called to Service,” lays out how these Forest Service veterans recall multitasking, job mobility, promotion, and the transition from jack-of-all-trades positions to a more specialized profession. In part three, “Managing Multi-Headed Dragons,” participants speak about their experiences and philosophy of protection and conservation of our forest resources from fire. Their story continues in part four, “The Forest Community: Everyday Life In the Service,” as “old-timers” describe their social history and their sense of the loss of a forest community. In part five, “Memorable Events and People - Remembering the Good Times,” the narrative briefly turns to the heartwarming stories that naturally radiate from oral histories. 

Book cover for The Unmarked TrailThe Unmarked Trail: Managing National Forests in a Turbulent Era (2009)

As a continuation of the 2004 oral history project the USDA Forest Service Region 5 retirees’ oral history committee, with financial and logistical support from the Regional Forester, conducted interviews for publication of a second volume of edited interviews. The committee extended its collaborative agreement with the University of California at Berkeley’s Regional Oral History Office (ROHO) and again Victor W. Geraci, PhD, ROHO Associate Director, selected interview segments, lightly edited them for publication, and researched and suggested contextual narrative.

In the first section, “Timber,” foresters reflect upon the shift from an era when timber was king and necessary for the benefit of the national economy to an era driven by an environmental focus that resulted in reduced budgets and new legal and legislative restrictions.  The second section of the book, “Changing Workforce,” showcases narrative stories that reflect upon the changing employment demographics as specialization of job descriptions, civil rights concerns, affirmative action, and a consent decree ushered in new professions, people of color, and women to the Service. Section three, “Firescope,” concentrates on the development of Region 5s cutting-edge approach to increase effectiveness of firefighting policies and procedures. The resulting Firescope program became a model for local, state, national and international approaches to all large-scale human disasters. In the final section, “Communications,” narrators describe how the Forest Service utilized Public Relations to protect the Service’s public image in an era of challenges by environmentalists who portrayed the Service as destroyers of the very natural resources that they were sworn to protect.

Bibliography

Image of movie poster: Help Woodsy Spread the WordBeck, Leigh. An Interview with Leigh Beck. Edited by Jacqueline S. Reiner. Durham N.C: Forest History Society, 2002.

Bergen, Geri Vanderveer. An Interview with Geri Vanderveer Bergen. Edited by Jacqueline S. Reiner. Durham, N.C.: Forest History Society, 2001.

Black, S. Rexford. “Private and State Forestry in California: 1917-1960.” Oral history conducted by Amelia R. Fry for the UC Berkeley Bancroft Library Regional Oral History Office, 1968.

Bleiker, Hans and Anne-Marie. Bleiker’s Art of Consent Building: The Art and Science of Getting Your Mission Accomplished…Especially When That Mission is Difficult and Controversial. 

Cermak, Robert W. Fire In the Forest: A History of Forest Fire Control On the National Forests In California, 1898-1956. USDA FS publication R5-FR-003; California, 2005.

Chase, Richard A. “FIRESCOPE: A New Concept in Multiagency Fire Suppression Coordination.” Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station General Technical Report PSW-40, 1980.

Clepper, Henry Edward. Professional Forestry in the United States. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1971.

Connaughton, Charles A. “National Forests Lands of many Uses: Regional Forrester’s Report 1961. San Francisco: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service California Region, 1961.

Cox, Thomas R., Robert S. Maxwell, and Phillip Drennon Thomas. This Well-Wooded Land: Americans and Their Forests from Colonial Times to the Present. University of Nebraska Press, 1985.

Davies, Gilbert W. Memories from the Land of Siskiyou: Past Lives and Times in Siskiyou County. History Ink Books, 1993.

Image of Los Angeles Times about Malibu fire________. Memorable Forest Fires: Stories. History Ink Books, 1995.

________. The Forest Ranger Who Could: Pioneer Custodians of the United States Forest Service 1905-1912. History Ink Books, 2003.

Davies, Gilbert W., and Florice M. Frank. Stories of the Klamath National Forest: The First 50 Years : 1905-1955. History Ink Books, 1992.

Davis, James B. and Robert L Irwin. “FOCUS: A Computerized Approach To Fire Management Planning,” Journal of Forestry. 74:9 September 1976, 615 – 618.

Fedkin, John. Managing Multiple Uses In National Forests, 1905-1995: A 90-year Learning Experience and It Isn’t Finished Yet. USDA Forest Service, 1999.

Fried, Jeremy S., J. Keith Gilless and James Spero. “Analyzing Initial Attack on Wildland Fires Using Stochastic Simulation,” International Journal of Wildland Fire 15: 2006, 137146.

Frome, M. The Forest Service, 2nd Ed., Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1984.

Garfield, James. Peak Performers: The New Heroes of American Business. New York:  Avon Books, 1987.

Geraci, Victor W., editor. The Lure of the Forest: Oral Histories from the National Forests In California. USDA FS publication R5-FR-005, 2005.

Godfrey, Anthony. The Ever-Changing View: A History of the National Forests In California. USDA FS publication R5-FR-004, 2005.

Graham, Otis L., Jr. Limited Bounty: The US Since WWII. McGraw-Hill,1995.

________, Jr. Environmental Politics and Policy 1960s to 1990s (Issues in Policy History, 9). Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000.

Gray, Bob. Forest, Fires, and Wild Things. Naturegraph Publishers, 1997.

Holmes, Beverly C. An Interview with Beverly C. Holmes. Edited by Carol C. Severance. Durham, N.C.: Forest History Society, 2002.

Johnson, Clara. An Interview with Clara Johnson. Edited by Jacqueline S. Reiner. Durham, N.C.: Forest History Society, 2002.

Kaufmann, Herbert. The Forest Ranger. Johns Hopkins Press, 1960, 1967. 

Kelley, Evan W. “The Making of A Regional Forester.” Oral history conducted by Amelia R. Fry for the UC Berkeley Bancroft Library Regional Oral History Office, 1974.

Photo of rangers with LassieKotok, Edward I. “The U.S. Forest Service: Research, State Forestry, and FAO.” Oral history conducted by Amelia R. Fry for the UC Berkeley Bancroft Library Regional Oral History Office, 1975.

Kruger, Myron E. “Forestry and Technology in Northern California; 1925-1965.” Oral history conducted by Amelia R. Fry for the UC Berkeley Bancroft Library Regional Oral History Office and the Forest History Society, 1968.

Lewis, James G. “The Applicant Is No Gentleman: Women in the Forest Service.” Journal of Forestry. July/August, 2005, 259-263.

________. The Forest Service and the Greatest Good: A Centennial History. Forest History Society, Durham, NC.

Li Master, Dennis C. Decade of Change: The Remaking of Forest Service Statutory Authority During the 1970s. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1984.

Miller, Char and Rebecca Staebler. The Greatest Good: 100 Years of Forestry in  America. Society of American Foresters, 1999.

Mees, Romain. “An Algorithm To Help Design Fire Simulation and Other Data Base Work,” USDA Forest Service General Technical Report PSW-9/1974.

Pinchot, Gifford. Breaking New Ground, New York: Harcourt Brace, 1947.

Kelley, Evan W. “The Making of A Regional Forester.” Oral history conducted by Amelia R. Fry for the UC Berkeley Bancroft Library Regional Oral History Office, 1974.

Kotok, Edward I. “The U.S. Forest Service: Research, State Forestry, and FAO.” Oral history conducted by Amelia R. Fry for the UC Berkeley Bancroft Library Regional Oral History Office, 1975.

Kruger, Myron E. “Forestry and Technology in Northern California; 1925-1965.” Oral history conducted by Amelia R. Fry for the UC Berkeley Bancroft Library Regional Oral History Office and the Forest History Society, 1968.

Lewis, James G. “The Applicant Is No Gentleman: Women in the Forest Service.” Journal of Forestry. July/August, 2005, 259-263.

________. The Forest Service and the Greatest Good: A Centennial History. Forest History Society, Durham, NC.

Li Master, Dennis C. Decade of Change: The Remaking of Forest Service Statutory Authority During the 1970s. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1984.

Miller, Char and Rebecca Staebler. The Greatest Good: 100 Years of Forestry in  America. Society of American Foresters, 1999.

Mees, Romain. “An Algorithm To Help Design Fire Simulation and Other Data Base Work,” USDA Forest Service General Technical Report PSW-9/1974.

Pinchot, Gifford. Breaking New Ground, New York: Harcourt Brace, 1947. Pinchot Institute for Conservation

Photo of 1978 Civil Rights Meeting GroupPeople Service People: Women and Minorities Working in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1980.

Peters, Thomas J. and Robert H. Waterman, Jr. In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s-Run Companies. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1982.

Pyne, Stephen J. America's Fires: Management on Wildlands and Forests (Forest History Society Issues Series). Forest History Society, 1997.

________. Year of the Fires: The Story of the Great Fires of 1910. Penguin Books, 2002.

Pyne, Stephen J., and William Cronon. Fire in America: A Cultural History of Wildland and Rural Fire (Weyerhaeuser Environmental Book). University of Washington Press, 1997.

Robbins, William G. American Forestry: A History of National, State, and Private Cooperation. University of Nebraska Press, 1985.

Runte, Alfred. Public Lands, Public Heritage: The National Forest Idea. Roberts Rinehart Publishers, 1991.

Schama, Simon. Landscape and Memory. New York: Vintage Books, 1995.

Show, S. Bevier. “National Forests In California.” Oral history conducted by Amelia R. Fry for the UC Berkeley Bancroft Library Regional Oral History Office, 1965.

Steen, Harold K. The U.S. Forest Service: A History. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2004.

Steinberg, Ted. Down to Earth: Nature's Role in American History. Oxford University Press, 2002.

The Consent Decree in USDA Forest Service Region 5 and the Pacific Southwest Research Station. Four interviews conducted in 1992 under the auspices of USDA Forest Service and the Oral History Program, CSUS. Collection number: OH-003.

Thomas, J.C. and P. Mohai. Racial, Gender, and Professional Diversification in the Forest Service from 1983 to 1992. Policy Studies Journal 23(2): 296-309. 1995

U.S. Department of Agriculture- Forest Service. Women in the Forest Service. MP-1058. Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1972.

Williams, Gerald W. The USDA Forest Service: the First Century (Washington, DC: USDA Forest Service, 2000 (FS-650).

Photo of screen gems pilotWoods, Patricia Dillon. The Defense Budget Process in the Washington Community. The Woods Institute, 1985.

Woods, Patricia Dillon. The Dynamics of Congress: A Guide to the People and Process  In Lawmaking. The Woods Institute, 1991. 

Worster, Donald. Under Western Skies: Nature and History in the American West. Oxford University Press, reprint edition 1994.

Zunz, Olivier. Why The American Century. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

 

Photo of Forest Service Clerks from 1945