Brandon Johnson mountains

National Background

The Forest Reserve Act of 1891

 The Forest Reserve Act of 1891 authorized the President to set aside and designate forest reserve from the public domain lands. The Forest Reserves Act holds historical significance in the early conservation efforts of the United States, contributing to the preservation and sustainable management of our forested lands.

The Organic Act of 1897

 In 1897 Congress passed the Organic Act to improve and protect forests, secure favorable water flows, and furnish a continuous supply of timber for citizens of the United States. It is important to note that the organic act specifically applied to lands West of the Mississippi River. This act laid the foundation for the development of the United States Forest Service as the agency responsible for overseeing these lands.

The Transfer Act of 1905

The Transfer Act of 1905 shifted the administration of the nation’s forest reserves from the Department of the Interior to the Department of Agriculture, where it remains today. The Department of Agriculture was already responsible for agricultural research, rural development, and the promotion of sustainable farming practices. Adding forest management to its portfolio allowed for a more comprehensive approach to land stewardship.

The Weeks Act of 1911

The Weeks Act of 1911 authorized the purchase of private lands east of the Mississippi River, to establish national forests. One of the national forests established as a result of the Weeks Act was the Cherokee National Forest. Encompassing a significant portion of the southern Appalachian Mountains, the Cherokee National Forest was made possible through the acquisition of private lands since there were minimal public domain lands in the region.

The Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act of 1960

In 1960 Congress passed the Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act. This act holds a pivotal role in shaping the management of national forests. It mandates that national forests be administered with a comprehensive approach, encompassing outdoor recreation, range management, timber production, watershed protection, and the preservation of wildlife and fish habitats.  The act acknowledges the interconnectedness of these multiple uses, promoting their responsible and harmonious coexistence. Additionally, the act emphasizes the importance of achieving and maintaining, in perpetuity, a high level of annual or periodic output from renewable resources while ensuring the lands productivity remains unimpaired. It underscores the importance of responsible resource management, promoting a balance between utilization and conservation while safeguarding the inherent productivity and integrity of the land.

Sunset over the mountains by Brandon Johnson
Cabin in the Cherokee National Forest by Nathan Yarborough