History & Culture

The Southwest and the Forest Service

Historical photo, Coconino National ForestSecretary of Agriculture James Wilson’s directive of February 1, 1905, held special significance for the people of Arizona and New Mexico. Wilson announced the transfer of the Forest Reserves to the Department of Agriculture as authorized by Congress (H. R. 8460) on that same day. Some 21 million acres of public lands, almost one-eighth of the surface area of Arizona and New Mexico, were now to be administered by a regional subdivision of the Forest Service. “All land,” Wilson said, “is to be devoted to its most productive use for the permanent good of the whole people. ... All the resources of the forest reserves are for use.” In 1908, Chief Forester Gifford Pinchot appointed Arthur C. Ringland the first District Forester of the newly organized Southwestern district, or district 3. These Forest Service “districts” became “regions” after 1930.

The Forest Service was charged to maintain the permanence of the resources of the National Forests, while providing for their use. The great concern of Congress, as reflected in the Organic Administration Act of 1897, was to continue the prosperity of the agricultural, lumbering, mining, and livestock interests directly dependent upon the water, wood, minerals, and forage of the public domain. Over the past three-quarters of a century the use of the renewable and nonrenewable resources of the Southwest had increased at a rapid rate. From: Timeless Heritage: A History of the Forest Service in the Southwest, 1998.


Historic Photos

Agua Chiquita Station

Historic photographs from the Southwestern Regional Office files in Albuquerque. There are 100 photos for each Forest. All are black and white photos.


[Photo]: Honanki Cliff Dwellings

Of all the many tourist destinations in the West, few combine the landscapes and romance of the western experience as strikingly as the archeological and historic sites in the Southwest.


Southwestern Regional Foresters

Cal Joyner, Regional Forester

A list of the Regional Foresters of the Southwestern Region.

Smokey Bear

[Photo] Smokey Bear as a cub, sleeping under a sign that says

The summer following a large fire on the Lincoln National forest in New Mexico, an orphaned bear cub was discovered on the burn. The cub became Smokey Bear.


Original Forest Reserves

Twenty-five forest reserves and four national forests were proclaimed in the Southwest Territory from 1892 to 1907.