Weeks Act

Weeks Act PlaqueEarly national forests in the West were established from public lands by 1909, but no such public lands had been established in the Eastern U.S. The Weeks Act became law on March 1, 1911. The act was named after United States Representative from Massachusetts, John Weeks. The Act allowed for the purchase of the first national forest lands in the eastern United States. The very first tract purchased under the act was 8,100 acres owned by the Burke McDowell Lumber Company, located near Marion, N.C. This land is now a part of the Grandfather Ranger District of the Pisgah National Forest. The exhibit overlooks the original Burke-McDowell Tract now encompassing Curtis Creek Campground and surrounding areas.

Over the last 100 years, North Carolina has become home to the Nantahala, Pisgah, Uwharrie and Croatan National Forests, which encompass more than 1.2 million acres – about 4 percent of North Carolina’s land.

The Weeks Act launched a century of conservation – providing clean water, restoring forests and reducing catastrophic wildfires. Land purchases allowed protection of headwater sources of some of the most valuable navigable streams and rivers, mostly in the East. Now, one fifth of the entire nation’s clean drinking water flows from those lands. Millions of acres of bare, eroded lands were restored and replanted. USDA and the Forest Service continue to work with partners to restore public lands. The epic western wildfires of 1910 led to support for the Weeks Act of 1911. The Weeks Act enabled federal-state partnerships to control wildfires and prevent erosion and flooding that can follow a wildfire

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New wayside exhibit is unveiled