A century ago the White Mountain region looked considerably different. Most of the forest cover had been cut off in a short 25 year period. Well over a hundred thousand acres had been blackened by fires. Over 85,000 acres of forest burned in just 1903 alone. The scenic beauty was marred for summer visitors staying at the hotels and inns. Hiking trails were covered with thick slash from tree cutting. Sediment and silt from eroding hillsides harmed water supplies and the fish that lived in the streams. Saw mills were running out of wood. The forest was cut over, burned over and something was needed to restore it.
A native of Lancaster, NH by the name of John Wingate Weeks played a key role in protecting the White Mountains from further damage. As a Congressman from Massachusetts, Weeks sponsored what has been called “one of the most important forest conservation bills in US history” that is today called the Weeks Act. This law gave the federal government—for the first time–the resources to buy land for the purpose of protecting the headwaters of navigable rivers. During the past century, 41 national forests were created containing 20 million acres in 24 eastern states. Without the Weeks Act, we would not have the 800,000 acre White Mountain National Forest today.
Join Forest Historian David Govatski for a photo presentation celebrating the legacy of the Weeks Act a hundred years after its passage. See historic photos of the early days of the White Mountain National Forest including the forest fires and extensive logging that led to the passage of the Weeks Act. See the amazing restoration of this rugged mountain region and consider the next hundred years.
Tin Mountain’s Nature Program Series is sponsored in part by LL Bean and the Evenor Armington Fund. Donations of $3/ person and $5/ family are requested; members are free.