In excerpts from a series of interviews, seven former Forest Service chiefs look back at the issues they faced throughout their 50 collective years of service and provide a glimpse into the inner workings of America's oldest and largest federal land-management agency. At times caught unaware by the forces of change, at times prescient, by turns humble and defiant, yet always candid, the chiefs endured a sea-change of increasing strife marked by vocabulary that still clangs with contention--wilderness, clearcutting, ecosystem management, environmentalism, timber salvage. Reflecting on their efforts during the last half of the 20th century to carry out the agency's mission in an era of escalating turbulence, the chiefs offer behind-the-scenes analyses of both the controversies and the agency's responses--factors destined to influence federal land-management for the years to come.
Harold K Steen is a former president of the Forest History Society, he currently teaches conservation history at New Mexico State University. He lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico.