At the turn of the 20th century, forests in the White Mountains were being clear cut and many were worried about the damage logging had done to the White’s. The Weeks Act of 1911, helped protect these forests by the purchasing of land by the federal government. Over time standards were set as to the amount loggers could log in the state. Although they adapted, there have been challenges to the industry. There has been the debate over logging in road less areas of the White Mountain National Forest as well as the change in industry in the North Country.
In commemoration of the centennial of the Weeks Act, NHPR is looking at the impact the federal legislation has had on the state and its largest forest. The Weeks Act gave the federal government the authority to buy private land to turn into the National Forest system. While the law is typically appreciated by conservationists, it was business interests that drove its passage. And one hundred years later, the law has had a large and positive economic impact on the North Country, providing jobs and improving the quality of life. NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.
One hundred years ago this month, the Weeks Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Taft. It was designed so that the federal government could purchase private land, especially forests in order to protect them. It also helped create the Eastern National Forests which included New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest. One hundred years later, and as you enter the White’s you are greeted by a sign claiming that this is a “Land of Many Uses”.
This historic piece of legislation created the country’s eastern national forests and New Hampshire’s own White Mountain National Forest. We talk with a US Forest Service expert on how the act has influenced New Hampshire’s environment and why it has remained such an important part of the country's conservation landscape.
Today is the 100th anniversary of the passage of the Weeks Act, which permitted the federal government to purchase private land, protecting forests and watersheds in the Eastern United States. The act has been called one of the most successful pieces of conservation legislation in the nation’s history. It safeguards habitats for hundreds of species, and recreation space for millions, including miles of the Appalachian Trail. The trail meanders through twelve states and thousands of acres of federally conserved land.
Lancaster’s John Weeks, who was responsible for the Weeks Act of 1911 that gave the government the authority to create national forests, appreciated nature but wasn’t a hardcore environmentalist, according to a historian who is also his great granddaughter.
“He, himself was a businessman. He did not claim to be a conservationist in the classic sense of the word, certainly not in our sense,” said Rebecca Weeks Sherrill More. “But I think it is important that as a good businessman he understood that conservation was good business”