When the Town Owns the Forest
[imgbelt img=RockiesNearBoulderDecember1974530.jpg]Our historic love/hate attitude toward forestland turns to regret. Community-managed forests may be the next best approach.
[imgcontainer left] [img:virginforest1620and1850320.jpg] [source]William B. Greeley: The Relation of Geography to Timber Supply, Economic GeographyThe decline in virgin forest lands from 1620 to 1850…
The brutal attack on forests after European settlement here is one of the darkest chapters in U.S. environmental history. The loss of forests triggered localized climate change, soil erosion, flooding, and massive forest fires, like the one in Peshtigo, Wisconsin, in October, 1871 – the worst recorded forest fire in North American history.
Who now could imagine what it must have been like for the first pioneers to look from the decks of a tiny sailing ships that had bobbed for weeks across the Atlantic into forests of huge trees that came right to the ocean’s shorelines? It must have been truly awesome, mysterious, and likely frightening.
For the first several generations after European contact, the forest must have seemed endless. It stretched from the East Coast, over the Appalachians, and into the Midwest, transitioning into prairies and plains before starting again in the Rockies and extending to the West Coast. What would become the United States contained about 822 million acres of forest, covering more than a third of the land.
[imgcontainer left] [img:virginforest1920today320.jpg] …from 1920 to 1925.