1945 History of the Modoc National Forest

For the 40th anniversary of the Forest Service, Region 5 compiled histories of the Modoc, Los Padres, and Angeles National Forests. William Samuel Brown (1884-1965) was the Senior Information Specialist residing in Santa Barbara who gathered and wrote these materials prior to the end of World War II.

Region 5 sensed its early formative history coming to an end and a new era of forestry beginning. In 1942, Region 5 and the Angeles National Forest celebrated the golden anniversary of federal forestry in California and the creation of the San Gabriel Reserve (1892) along with the birth of early California conservationist Abbot Kinney. Three years later, Region 5 marked the fortieth anniversary of the Forest Service (1945) as a special occasion. Region (Anthony Godfrey, 2005, The Ever-changing View, A History of the National Forests in California, 1891-1987. Pp 324-325. Vallejo, CA: USDA Forest Service)

In 1972, Mr. Brown’s history of the Los Padres National Forest was re-issued in manuscript form and included this summary of his career. http://lpfw.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/19450000_Brown_HistoryOfLosPadresNationalForest.pdf 

William S. (Billy) Brown started his Forest Service career in 1911 as a Forest Clerk for the Modoc National Forest. He retired from the Forest Service in 1945 after 35 years of distinguished service, during which he held the various positions of Deputy Forest Supervisor, Forest Supervisor (1920-1924 on the Modoc National Forest in northern California), Senior Clerk, Principal Clerk, Executive Assistant, and Senior Administrative Assistant.

In addition to the Modoc, he was assigned to the San Bernardino National Forest, the Los Padres, and the Regional headquarters in San Francisco. At the time of his retirement he was living in Santa Barbara, although assigned to the Regional Office as a Senior Administrative Specialist in the Division of Information and Education, and had just finished writing this History of the Los Padres. History and writing were his special interests, and in a letter commemorating Billy's retirement Forest Service Chief Watts said, "During many years on the Modoc National Forest, in addition to your regular duties you were able to search out and record historical facts that form an important part of California's early-day history."

Another letter records, "The many historical spots in California marked for posterity, mainly through your efforts, are monuments to your enthusiasm and far sighted planning."

Born in England and educated in Canada, with one year of a commercial course at Indiana University, Billy Brown received little formal education in writing but learned where and how he could through some correspondence courses and many published articles on conservation. He was editor of the leading Modoc County newspaper for a year when he was out of the Forest Service; and he was always very active in community organizations.

He lived with his family in Santa Barbara from 1939 until his death in 1965.

Mr. Brown’s document is an historical and an historic archive document—it reflects the time and general perspective of its author. Some might find certain passages and language offensive, but it reflects the era in which it was written while preserving the covered history for future generations. Content provided here is for informational purposes only, because so many people have referred to it in seeking information about early events associated with the Modoc National Forest.

Please do not assume the content reflects current Forest Service attitudes and/or practices. Neither should it be regarded to represent current scientific knowledge, policies, or practices.

For questions about the Modoc Forest Heritage program, contact M. Pamela Bumsted, Ph.D., Heritage Program Manager, mbumsted@fs.fed.us, 530-233-5811

Chapter I - General Description

Location And Relation To Surrounding Areas
Place Names

Chapter II - Early History

Indian Use and Occupancy
Emigrant Trails and Indian Warfare

Chapter III - Creation And Purpose

Reasons for Setting Aside
Forest Reserve Withdrawals

Chapter IV - Topography, Flora And Climate

Diversified Terrain
Tree, Shrub and Plant Growth
Modoc Weather

Chapter V - Administration And Personnel

Supervisors in Charge and Terms of Service
Old Time Rangers and Other Employees
Ranger Districts

Chapter VI - Resource Managment

Fish and Wildlife

Chapter VII - Progress In Forest Development

Land Claims, Forest Homesteads and Special Uses Land Exchange
Road and Trail
Communication Systems
Structural Improvements
Water Development
War Activities

Chapter VIII - Fire Protection

Degree and Types of Fire Hazard
Fire Prevention and Pre-Suppression
Fires Through the Years