Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Connecting curious minds with uncommon, undeniably Northwest reads

Forest Under Siege

The Story of Old Growth After Gifford Pinchot

Rand Schenck

$24.95

Gifford Pinchot, Chief of the United States Forest Service (USFS) from 1905 to 1910, once marveled at the Cascades’ ancient forests, but by 1990, relentless logging left less than thirteen percent of the Pacific Northwest’s original old growth, and projected USFS plans were to log almost all of the unprotected remainder by 2023. Environmental activist Rand Schenk utilizes interviews and USFS reports to examine 100 years of Pacific Northwest forestry—revealing just how close the region’s forests came to extinction—and relaying efforts to restore the damage.

“This exquisitely researched book gets to the soul of the Forest Service that successfully resisted corruption.”—Gifford Pinchot III, Gifford Pinchot’s grandson and Pinchot & Company president

“A worthy and much needed historical review.”—Jerry Franklin, Professor Emeritus, University of Washington

Illustrations / notes / bibliography / index / 6″ x 9″ / 224 pages / ISBN 978-1-63864-025-7 (2024)

AVAILABLE IN MAY 2024

PLEASE NOTIFY ME WHEN THIS BOOK IS PUBLISHED! (click here for form)

BASALT BOOKS logo

Clear

Gift Wrap Design

Gift wrap ($5.00)

Description

Gifford Pinchot marveled at the immensity of the Cascades’ old growth trees when he visited the Pacific Northwest in the early 1890s. As first chief of the United States Forest Service (USFS), he valued forests as a “social good,” but his view did not last. After WWII the USFS and the timber industry became unlikely allies, and with policies often shaped by economic interests, maximum timber production became the primary objective.

Mid-century scientific forestry championed intensive management and replacing ancient forests with younger, faster-growing trees. Logging unsustainable levels of timber was common practice from the 1950s through the 1980s. As a result of public concerns, in June 1960, President Eisenhower signed into law the Multiple Use-Sustained Yield Act, which made national forests’ multiple purposes—timber, water, range, recreation, wildlife, and fish—equally important. Still, accelerated production continued unabated into the 1980s. By 1990 less than thirteen percent of the Pacific Northwest’s original old growth remained, and projected USFS plans were to log almost all unprotected old growth by 2023.

Judicial action and the Northwest Forest Plan finally brought this unsustainable logging to a close. Restoring the damage will require more than a century.

Environmental activist Rand Schenck examines 100 years of Pacific Northwest forestry, through the lens of forestry practices on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. This volume offers his visceral perspective on the decades of stewardship, the period of relentless harvest, and the move toward the rebirth of old growth.

As a boy, Rand Schenck hiked and backpacked in the same mountains and woods where Gifford Pinchot first worked as a forester and developed a lifelong love of the outdoors. He holds a BA in History from the University of Colorado, as well as an MA in Recreation Administration and a Masters of Social Work, both from the University of North Carolina. Now retired, he spends much of his time in the outdoors, hiking and camping in the Pacific Northwest and around the world.

“Pinchot’s most famous idea, that our nation’s forests should be managed for ‘the greatest good of the greatest number for the longest time’ is brought to life in Schenck’s insightful book.”—Sean Stevens, Executive Director, Oregon Wild

“Through Schenck’s personal relationship and infinite passion for the heart of the cascades, he explores the history, science and controversy that surrounds the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. As someone familiar with the landscape, I found myself developing an even deeper appreciation and connection as each chapter unfolded.”—Molly Whitney, Executive Director, The Cascade Forest Conservancy, formerly the Gifford Pinchot Task Force

 

Recognition

“This exquisitely researched book gets to the soul of the Forest Service that successfully resisted corruption. As Rand Schenck, who is a great storyteller, moves through sharing his deep knowledge of the history of what happened, he makes it all into a good story. He shows Pinchot’s spiritual love of the woods and making the national forests serve the common citizens rather than the wealthy timber lords. That force was so strong that the integrity of that mission lasted for many decades after Pinchot was fired for standing up for the forests in opposition to President Taft’s wealthy cronies who wanted to despoil it. And then Rand shows how the service recovered some of that spirit after the period when it rapaciously cut down all the old growth.”—Gifford Pinchot III, Gifford Pinchot’s grandson and Pinchot & Company president

“Pinchot’s most famous idea, that our nation’s forests should be managed for ‘the greatest good of the greatest number for the longest time’ is brought to life in Schenck’s insightful book. Forests Under Siege explores the tension between the progressive notion that our forests should serve the masses and the ecological toll exacted in the name of that goal – all while pointing the way to a hopeful vision for protecting old growth that Pinchot himself would embrace.”—Sean Stevens, Executive Director, Oregon Wild

“This is a worthy and much needed historical review on the often neglected but critically important ex-Columbia National Forest renamed to honor the father of American forestry.  The Gifford Pinchot National Forest is home to two major volcanoes (Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams), the cradle of forestry research in the Pacific Northwest (Wind River Experimental Forest), and home of some of the most magnificent remaining old-growth forests, despite an aggressive century of timber harvest.”—Jerry Franklin, Professor Emeritus, University of Washington

“Through Schenck’s personal relationship and infinite passion for the heart of the cascades, he explores the history, science and controversy that surrounds the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. As someone familiar with the landscape, I found myself developing an even deeper appreciation and connection as each chapter unfolded. Forests Under Siege reinforces why we must continue to protect and restore such a resilient and inherently majestic place for ourselves and future generations.”—Molly Whitney, Executive Director, The Cascade Forest Conservancy, formerly the Gifford Pinchot Task Force

Additional information

Dimensions N/A
Format

Paperback