Crisis Management: Challenge and Controversy in Forest Service History

Document Type



Environmental Analysis (Pomona)

Publication Date



crisis management, forest service, range management


History is the language we employ to describe our relationship to the past. It is how we speak to ourselves about previous generations, their lives, perspectives, achievements, failures; but it is also a form of communication the present uses to talk to itself about itself. History, in that sense, allows us to assess our heritage and inheritance.¹

This reciprocal dialog is as evident in studies of individual lives (biography) and assessments of family constellations (psychology) as it is in analyses of social organizations (sociology), and, in truth, because individuals emerging out of familial environments make up the social organisms in which humans live, learn, work, and play, this kind of evaluative discourse cannot help but be multilayered.

And very complicated. Take, for instance, the USDA Forest Service, which in 2005 is celebrating its centennial. How do you track its history? Which language or set of terms best captures its evolution over time? What determines that which it has bequeathed to its employees and the broader public it has served for so long in different eras? (Not to mention its effect on the land under its care.) To address some of these questions, I want to reframe them through a discussion of 4 key challenges that Forest Service leadership has had to confront over the past 100 years.

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© 2005 Society for Range Management

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