The People's Forest
For 100 Years
100 years ago the White Mountains were largely a denuded cutover landscape marked by eroding hillsides. Streams were blackened by silt and ash from widespread fires sparked in expansive logging slash. The passage of the Weeks Act in 1911 called for the protection of headwater streams. On May 16, 1918 President Woodrow Wilson signed Executive Order 1449 creating the White Mountain National Forest in Maine and New Hampshire.
Today the Forest is nearly 800,000 acres and attracts several million visitors who hike, camp, climb and ski on their public land each year. The White Mountain National Forest has become a major part of the economic engine of New Hampshire contributing to the nearly 9 billion dollar statewide outdoor recreation industry that supports almost 80,000 jobs.
Whether you are a regular visitor, local community member, volunteer or partner, the White Mountain National Forest hopes the centennial will encourage you to relfect on that importance of your connection with the land known as “the people’s forest.”
Reflections from the First 100 Years
Civilian Conservation Corps(CCC) camps were a joint venture of the U.S. Army and the U.S. Forest Service. One of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's work programs during the Great Depression designed to put idle workers, in this case unmarried men between the ages of 18 and 25, to work for the public good, the Army was in charge of the logistics, planning, building and administrating of the camps, and the Forest Service was in charge of putting the men to work on conservation and construction projects.
The young men in the White Mountain camps built roads, hiking and ski trails, picnic shelters, pavilions and campgrounds. Among the roads they worked on were Bear Notch Road, Wild River Road and Tripoli Road. The pavilions at White Ledge Campground, the Lower Falls, Passaconaway Campground and at Dolly Copp Campground were all built by the CCC men. They manned fire towers, did timber stand improvement and worked on flood control projects
The Great Hurricane of 1938 was the first major hurricane to strike New England since 1869. On September 21, 1938, peak steady winds at 121 mph and massive storm surges caused 6 billion dollars of damage and loss of life. The hurricane also devastated the forests of the Northeast, knocking down an estimated 2 billion trees in New York and New England.
Forest Service officials were concerned about the consequences of failing to salvage the wood from the Great Hurricane of 1938. They feared that the “remaining down timber, for which there was no immediate market, would rot on the ground, forming tremendous insect, disease, and fire hazards in addition to economic loss.”
Officials decided to “store” the wood in local ponds. Hardwoods don’t float, so those would have to be stored and sawn quickly at a dry site, but pine and spruce could be stored almost for what officials believed as long as five to ten years. Logs are still being found in ponds today.
Engage through Highlighted Centennial Events
May 16 - September 12, 2018The People's Forest - Centennial Exhibit at Museum of the White Mountains
July 7, 2018Fungal Foray to Smarts Brook Trail