History of the Six Rivers National Forest

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A HISTORY OF THE SIX RIVERS NATIONAL FOREST... Commemorating the First 50 Years
By Pamela A. Conners Historian, Six Rivers National Forest
April 1998
USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region Six Rivers National Forest Eureka, California 95501

Cover Photos: (top left): Ranger Wes Hotelling with Maggie the Mule, 1937. (center): Forest Supervisor, William Fischer cleaning salmon, 1949. (top right): Karuk and archaeologist, Kathy McCovey teaches Six Rivers employees about Karuk culture. (center left): Forest Supervisor Wes Spinney, 1949. (center right): Fred Cronemiller on the Boundary Trail during his General Integrating Inspection, 1949. (bottom right): CCC-built Gasquet Ranger Station main office, 1964. (top right): Women employees at Humboldt Tree Nursery lifting seedlings, 1967.
"The Six Rivers is Now Officially on the Map"
"There Are A Lot Of Things Brewing..." The Brandeberry Report Opening the Doors at 4th and E Streets... to the Anonymous National Forest The Announcement is Finally Made "Let's Limit Our Choice To A Good American Name..." Redwood . . .
National Park National Forest Experimental Forest
Gearing Up for Intensive Timber Management A Bare Bones Organization Forest Service Missionaries... Bringing the Word of Forestry to the North Coast "The Forest Situation in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties..." Timber Range Recreation
The First Three Years The Challenge, the Promise, and the Vexations "The Region of The Last Stand..." The Six Rivers' First Timber Management Policy "It is Timely for a Shift in Emphasis in Administration..." The Formidable I & E Job Congresswoman Douglas and the Roosevelt Memorial Redwood National Forest
The 1950s A Paradigm of Dedicated Uses and Gearing-Up for Maximization The Marginality Issue Native Americans and the Early Six Rivers

Cracks in the Maximization Perspective From Creel and Bag Limits to Restoring Habitat... An Example of a Changing Paradigm From Summer Homes to Recreation Residences... Another Changing Paradigm From Fire Exclusion to Controlled Burns... Yet Another Changing Paradigm
The 1960s...Paradigm Lost The Thousand Year Flood... An Agent of Change and Re-Consideration A Changing Context and New Problem Definitions The Northern Redwood Purchase Unit...Case Study of A Paradigm Lost
Post Script
Six Rivers National Forest Staff 1997
Appendices 1: Time Markers 2: Six Rivers Personnel 3: Supervisors Offices
References Cited

This is a shortened version of a Six Rivers National Forest history written to commemorate the forest's fiftieth anniversary. In the seven weeks of researching and writing it, many individuals contributed to the project. I want to specially acknowledge Patti Bailey at the National Records Center. Thanks also to Richard Boyden at the National Records Center, Waverly Lowell at the National Archives, Brian Morris at the Smith River National Recreation Area, and Ted Hatzimanolis and Vern Hallin, former foresters on the Six Rivers National Forest. Finally my thanks to Heather Busam for her hard work, tenacity, and good humor in laying out this book and to Ken Wilson for believing in and promoting this idea.


The Custodial, Resource Management, and Ecosystem Management Phases:

Historians often divide Forest Service administrative history—after its transfer from the Department of Interior to the Department of Agriculture—into three, broad periods: "custodial" from 1905 until about 1933, "resource management" from about 1934 through the 1960s, and modern, which some speculate will be called the "ecosystem management" period. As a player in Forest Service administrative history, the Six Rivers—non-existent as a single entity until 1947—virtually bypassed the custodial phase. Instead, its history spans the beginnings and development of the resource management period and its evolvement into an ecosystem management model. Though the Six Rivers' history reflects the past 50 years of the Forest Service as an agency, it has also led or lagged as an agent of change in land and resource management.

The Focus of this History and Its Documentation:

The Six Rivers is young, and this history focuses on the

few years before its formal creation in 1947 through the mid-1960s. By zeroing-in on this short but crucial wedge of the Six Rivers' history, there was a preponderance of documentation regarding timber management with much less documentary evidence for other functional areas. It appeared that the more direct a function's tie to timber management, the more replete the documentary record. Therefore, functions such as engineering—whose

The Six Rivers' history spans the beginnings and development of the resource management period and its evolvement into an ecosystem management model.

traditional work was largely to develop the forest's

transportation system, which, in turn, was largely dictated by timber access—had comparatively

more records than functions such as range, recreation, heritage resources, or fish and wildlife.

Though this imbalance was at times frustrating, it probably accurately reflects the nature of the

Six Rivers' mission emphasis during its first 50 years: the push to fulfill the promise envisioned

by its creation.

The Forest Service and the American West:

To better understand the forces that helped forge the Six Rivers National Forest, it is necessary to know something about the institutional history of the United States Forest Service. Moreover, the early history of the US Forest Service is closely intertwined with the history of the American West. Until the 1891 Forest Reserve Act that allowed for creation of national forest reserves, public land policy had been entirely geared to facilitating the transfer of public domain into private hands through such provisions as the Preemption, Homestead, and the Timber and Stone Acts. Though the Forest Reserve Act provided the legal mechanism for some public domain lands to remain public, until the 1911 Weeks Act, the only eligible lands were in the West. [1]

The Forest Reserve Act was passed and the first, public,

forest reserves were created in 1891 when public outrage over depletion of forests in the east and midwest was at a crescendo. Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the Forest Service, was a veritable engine behind this outcry and the movement to save the nation from "timber famine" and to rescue public lands from private avarice. He held an undoubted conviction that forestry and scientific

. . . the depth of Gifford Pinchot's belief accounted for his zeal and doggedness and for the shape of early Forest Service policy and institutional culture.

management could avert disaster in the West and reclaim

wasted lands elsewhere—the depth of his belief accounted for his zeal and doggedness and for

the shape of early Forest Service policy and institutional culture.

Broadly characterized, the history of the Forest Service from its inception in 1905 through the early 1920s was a time during which the infant agency took aim at monopolies and purely profitdriven enterprises that sought to hoard public land and its resources. The agency's credo of "wise use" underscored that it had no quarrel with use... even with rather intensive use. Instead, its hostility was toward despoliation of public lands where the long range "public good" was either a missing factor or an unessential by-product of the equation. Each influencing the other, the young Forest Service eventually worked closely with many of its early nemeses: the "denudatics" in the timber industry, the "monied monopolies" behind massive water and hydroelectric projects, and the cattle and sheep "barons" who grazed their stock on public lands. During the course of these epithetic, protracted and tortuous negotiations, the Forest Service reshaped its policies and practices and in so doing, indirectly—through regulation—re-shaped the face of the landscape under its stewardship.

Eventually, and a harbinger of the second broad period of Forest Service history, Pinchot and his immediate successors became convinced that regulated monopolies could better serve the public and the land than laissez faire. For example, in the arena of hydroelectric development, Pinchot came to believe that regulated monopolies—especially those created by municipalities, were better for the land and for customers than forcing a situation where hundreds of hydroelectric developments—all using their own generation and transmission systems—had the end result of spoiling the resources he was bound to protect and of costing the consumer more in electrical costs. Where economies of scale could translate to less overall abrasive land use and to public benefit in the form of lower costs, the Forest Service tended to side with monopolies; particularly if the monopoly was a municipality and structured its project to serve a variety of publicly "beneficial" uses, such as power, irrigation, flood control, flow control for desirable fishes, domestic water, and the like (Conners 1989: passim).

If we look at timber management during the first period of Forest Service history, the young agency's efforts were aimed at assiduously guarding against wanton trespass on public timberlands by private lumber men. Agency officials dutifully cruised potential timber sales to assure that the public was properly reimbursed for the timber harvested from its land; they publicly solicited for bids on timber sales to assure that no one got special treatment; and, in order to protect resource values over the long term, they inserted resource protection clauses in timber sale contracts that potential buyers often considered onerous and overboard. But despite these precautions and preoccupations, a new paradigm emerged as a response to the reality that

large timber companies had carved-out specific zones of influence. The Forest Service's philosophy reconfigured to accommodate a view that large timber companies operating on public lands could serve a public benefit while, simultaneously, pleasing their stockholders. The second broad period of Forest Service history, then, was characterized by a pattern of the agency preparing its larger timber sales in locations where there was only one, feasible prospective bidder. So, while some called it "recognizing the realities of big business," others saw the Forest Service as catering to the whims of special interests.

Today, the Forest Service appears to be emerging into a

third period of its history; a time characterized by discontent with the guiding principals and solutions offered by the first two periods and by a struggle to mold a new operative ethic that integrates contemporary social, political, scientific, and economic ideas. Historian

Today, the Forest Service appears to be emerging into a third period of its history. . .

Patricia Limerick noted that this third period tends

toward devaluing extractive uses and resource comodification and seeks a "greater loyalty to

nature and to a distant posterity." Though the third historic period characteristics are most

commonly identified with the liberal side of the political spectrum, both the left and right sides

scoff at the first era's notion of government technocrats who form, implement, and monitor land

use decisions free from special business and/or political interests. The faith in bureaucrats to

efficiently and effectively manage the national forests in the public interest deflated during the

latter part of the second period. Indeed, the tangle of population pressures, resource scarcities,

the degraded quality of basic resources (such as air, water, and soil), and the sheer complexity of

ecosystem relationships make the bare questions of "what is in the public interest" and "what is

best for the land" confounding puzzlers.

Hopes For This History. . . A Sense of the Forest Service, the Six Rivers National Forest, and Ourselves:

This work is rich in quotes. As often as appropriate, I wanted people from the past to speak in their own voices. I hope that this history is a step toward documenting the Six Rivers National Forest's heritage and that we—employees and other interested publics—gain a sense of this agency and ourselves as constantly changing... as both reflections and as active agents in the history of our own time. My hope is that this history will be sound, readable, and thoughtprovoking; that it will spark further interest and study, and that it will help those interested in this young national forest to better understand its roots and to better guide its future.

Pam Conners, Historian US Forest Service, Six Rivers National Forest September 1997

"The Six Rivers is Now Officially on the Map"
"There Are A Lot Of Things Brewing..."
June 3, 1947 marked the official beginning of the Six Rivers National Forest. Presidential Proclamation 2733 formalized creation of this, the youngest of the Pacific Southwest Region's national forests:
WHEREAS it appears that it would be in the interest of administrative management to consolidate certain portions of the Siskiyou, Klamath, and Trinity National Forests, within the State of California, into a national-forest unit designated as the Six Rivers National Forest:
NOW, THEREFORE, I, HARRY S. TRUMAN, President of the United States, under and by virtue of the authority vested in me by section 24 of the act of March 3, 1891, 26 Stat. 1103 (16 U.S.C. 471), and section 1 of the act of June 4, 1897, 30 Stat. 11, 36 (16 U.S.C. 473) do proclaim that all lands within the exterior boundaries of those parts of the Siskiyou, Klamath, and Trinity National Forests lying west of the following-described line are hereby eliminated from those forests and are consolidated to form and shall hereafter constitute the Six Rivers National Forest: ... [US Presidential Proclamation 2733 1947].
The proclamation continued by describing the boundaries of the new national forest. The Six Rivers' initial 900,000 acres was an amalgam of three, long-established national forests from two regions: the Siskiyou of Region 6, and the Klamath and Trinity national forests of Region 5. [2] Formerly part of the Siskiyou headquartered in Grants Pass, Oregon, a net of 308,138 acres was transferred from Region 6, being almost all of its Gasquet Ranger District. A net of 222,335 acres was transferred from the Klamath National Forest headquartered out of Yreka, California, and comprised about 75 percent of the old Orleans Ranger District. A net of 395,572 acres was transferred from the Trinity National Forest, headquartered in Weaverville, California, which encompassed about 75 percent of its Lower Trinity and all of its Mad River ranger districts. Subsequently, 14,492 acres comprising the Northern Redwood Purchase Unit (NRPU) were also transferred from the Trinity National Forest to the new Six Rivers (USDA, ES n.d.: 2). [3] In drawing the new lines, some district boundary adjustments were made to provide for "a logical inter-forest boundary" (Cronemiller and Kern 1950: 1). [4] With the addition of the NRPU, the Six Rivers embraced 1,108,368 acres; 940,537 acres of which were national forest system lands and the remainder being privately held lands within the forest boundary (HT 7-20-52). Without elaborating on the history and maneuverings behind establishment of the new national forest, the employee newsletter for Region 5, the California Ranger, succinctly announced that: "The Six Rivers Forest is now officially on the map. The proclamation was signed by President Truman on June 3" (CR 6-11-47).

The long, slender Six Rivers National Forest—formally established in 1947 from pieces of the Trinity, Klamath, and Siskiyou national forests—is the
youngest national forest in California.

This piece of a 1937 Siskiyou National Forest map shows the southern part of the Siskiyou that was transferred from Region 6 to Region 5's new national forest in California's north coast. On the eastern side of that area, the boundary between the Siskiyou and the Klamath national forests was the Siskiyou and Del Norte county line.
Though the proclamation was not official until June 3, 1947, formation of a new national forest from pieces of the Siskiyou, Klamath, and Trinity had been bandied about for several years, and the notion had been a serious consideration at least since latter 1935. It was in that year that California's Regional Forester—then titled "District Forester—Stuart B. Show ordered preliminary surveys in the area and began to push for a separate national forest in the north coast of California [5] (HT 3-13-49).
The earliest piece of inter-regional correspondence found thus far referencing the potential transfer of Region 6's California lands to a Region 5 forest was November, 1942. Lyle F. Watts, Regional Forester for Region 6, was on the verge of becoming Chief Forester for the Forest Service. Watts was at a meeting in Denver when Region 5 Forester Stuart B. Show's letter, referencing the transfer, arrived in Portland. H. J. Andrews, acting in Watts stead and lacking background information on the topic, wrote to Show: "I have your letter of November 25 about the transfer of the Gasquet District to Region 5." Andrews promised to take a copy of Show's letter to Denver in order to discuss it with Watts (Watts 11-30-42). From the tone and content of this letter, it is obvious that Watts and Show had already discussed and were in agreement about the transfer of California lands from Region 6 to Region 5, even though there was no clearly defined new national forest to which it would be attached.

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History of the Six Rivers National Forest