Eastern Region - A Brief History

The Eastern Region: A Brief History

From its earliest beginning in 1908 with the creation of four Lake States National Forests, Region 9 has grown in size and importance. By the time of WWII, it was clear that the Region had taken its rightful place among the Regions of the Forest Service.

The Forest Service regions were transferred from DC to field headquarters sometime during 1908. At that time, National Forests in northern Minnesota and northern Michigan were listed under the administration of Region 2 at Denver, CO. These National Forests (Minnesota NF; Marquette NF; Michigan NF; and Superior NF) remained under the jurisdiction of Region 2 until March 1909 when they were transferred to Region 1 with headquarters in Missoula, MT. On February 1, 1913, administration was retransferred to Region 2 at Denver, CO.

The first Eastern Region was Region 7. Created in 1914, R7 included National Forests in all East Coast states and the entire area west to Arkansas excluding the Great Lakes area. By 1918, Region 7 included all of the southern National Forests extending as far west as Oklahoma. At this time, the Regions, then called Districts*, operated little more than as an adjunct to the office of the Chief Forester in DC. (* Districts became known as Regions in the 1930's)

The major factor in the establishment of a separate region in the Lakes States was the passage of the Clarke-McNary Act of June 7, 1924. This amended the Weeks Act and authorized the purchase of land for timber production purposes as well as for streamflow protection. The establishment of Region 9, the Lakes States Region, was on December 22, 1928, with temporary headquarters in Madison, WI. The Lakes States, R9, Regional Office moved to Milwaukee in 1929.

Between 1924 and 1929, purchase units in Wisconsin (Flambeau, Moquah, and Oneida) were established in the Lake States Region (R9). On January 3, 1930, North Dakota was also added to Region 9. Further expansion of R9 occurred later that year with the addition of several purchase units and National Forests in the states of Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Missouri. These five states were formerly administered as part of Region 7, the Eastern Region. In 1933, as a result of this expansion, Region 9 (Lake States Region) was renamed the North Central States Region.

In 1934, the Eastern Region (R7) was divided into 2 regions by creating the Southern Region (R8) with headquarters in Atlanta. At that time, Region 8 encompassed all of the National Forests south of Kentucky and Virginia. The Eastern Region (R7), contained only seven National Forests: the Green Mountain NF, Vermont; White Mountain, New Hampshire; Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Monongahela, West Virginia (all currently R9 Forests) and the Cumberland NF (currently Daniel Boone NF), Kentucky; George Washington and Jefferson NFs, Virginia.

In 1941, the Eastern Region (R7) headquarters moved from DC to Philadelphia, PA. Originally, the new offices were located in a downtown building, which presened parking and transportation problems for employees. In addition, the city of Philadelphia collected an income tax on employees. Because of these disadvantages, the Eastern Regional Office was move to the nearby town of Upper Darby, PA.

The Wayne and Hoosier purchase units were consolidated in August, 1949. In a news release Regional Forester, Jay H. Price, explained the reason for this administrative action: "We have found it necessary, as an economy move, to combine the administration of our purchase units in Indiana and Ohio. The administrative headquarters of the Wayne Purchase Unit, now located in Columbus, Ohio, will be vacated sometime in September and established in Bedford, Indiana, the present headquarters of the Indiana Unit. The consolidated units will be known as the Wayne-Hoosier Purchase Units".

Although included in the National Forest System as purchase units in the 1930's, it was not until 1951 that the Wayne-Hoosier National Forest was established through official proclamation.

Administrative consolidation of the Mark Twain and Clark National Forests in Missouri occurred in 1953. Headquarters of the Mark Twain in Springfield, MO were moved to Rolla, MO and merged with the headquarters of the Clark. In announcing the reorganization of the administrative units in Missouri, Regional Forester Price pointed out that "it is one of several being made to permit the Forest Service to operate within terms of the current budget and still provide customary degree of service at the District Ranger level".

By 1956, several units of Region 9, North Central States Region, were abandoned as National Forest administered lands. These purchase units included: Bellevue-Savanna, IL; St. Croix, MN; Souris-Sheyenne, ND; and Hawkeye, IO.

In 1965, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Director of Budget and the Chairman of the Civil Service Commission set up a joint team to review management policies and practices in the Forest Service. The review s conducted from February 15 to July 2, 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson' program for improved management of the Federal Governmen The resulting document of their findings was called the Deckerd Report. The report recommended that the approximate size of districts, forests and regions be more nearly standardized throughout the Service. As defined by the Deckerd Report, the optimum size of regions was one which had a span of control over fifteen to nineteen forests.

In response to the span of control concept, Chief Cliff and his staff decided that Region 7 would be eliminated and its forests divided among Regions 8 and 9. The White Mountain NF, Green Mountain NF, Allegheny NF and Monongahela NF were assigned to Region 9 and the George Washington NF, Jefferson NF and Daniel Boone NF went to Region 8. The Region 7 RO in Upper Darby, PA was closed and most of the personnel moved to Atlanta or Milwaukee. With the abolishment of Region 7, the North Central Region (R9) became the Eastern Region(9) and , with one exception, the Finger Lakes National Forest*, included National Forest System lands of the current Eastern Region (R9) configuration. The rest is history....!!!


(*In 1985, the Finger Lakes National Forest, NY was added to the Eastern Region as a result of the Hector Land Use Project (Bankhead-Jones land).