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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

Facts about... forest reserves.


CURWOOD: Back in 1891 President Benjamin Harrison set aside about a million acres of land as the nation's first forest reserve. The move was prompted by concerns over diminishing natural resources. But no one could decide how to manage all that space, so it was left untouched. By 1897, the reserve had grown to nearly 40 million acres, and furious farmers and miners wanted the land reopened to resource extraction. They pushed through Congress what was called The Organic Act, which for the first time allowed logging in US forests. A New York Times editorial called for a Presidential veto, and naturalist John Muir wrote of "Goths of the wilderness." But the Act survived, and by the mid-1960s logging reached a peak of about 12 billion board feet harvested per year. That's enough wood to build one million single family homes. Environmental regulations enacted during the 1980s reduced timber harvests on public lands down to 3 billion board feet a year. But some say that the Organic Act should be repealed and that no logging should be permitted on public lands. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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