Chiefly Politics: Contested Leadership in the USDA-Forest Service

Document Type



Environmental Analysis (Pomona)

Publication Date



Gifford Pinchot, environmental history, USDA Forest Service


For Pinchot, the politics of Forest Service leadershipo was of utmost concern, and this was as true for the five years when he served as the agency's chief as it would be during the remaining 35 years of his life, a period in which five new chiefs were selected. It was Pinchot who initially and repeatedly claimed that the agency must insulate itself from outside political pressures by asserting the preeminence of professional values to those of administrative patronage. But he regularly undercut these assertions when one of his successors did not conform to Pinchot's well-defined sense of the Forest Services' mission; at these points, his public criticism could be as relentless as his private assaults.

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