First Forester: The Enduring Conservation Legacy of Gifford Pinchot
Pinchot's ideas paralleled those of President Theodore Roosevelt and together the two led a national conservation movement. Today, Pinchot's. MILLER: Roosevelt and Pinchot's relationship was absolutely fascinating and fraught, in part because they were quite competitive even though. reform and close adviser to Theodore Roosevelt, Pinchot was America'sfirst chief of the Keywords: Gifford Pinchot, conservation, progressive reform, environmental policy, envi .. mous viewpoints especially in relation to Pinchot and Muir.
Fending off constant pressure from his Grandfather Eno to join the family business and make a fortune, Gifford, who had already inherited a fortune, stuck with forestry. His outstanding ability as an administrator generated strong loyalty from the small staff. He flooded the press with the nation's need for forestry and began to influence public opinion.
Inhe succeeded in getting all the country's Federal forest reserves later renamed National Forests transferred to his agency, by then called the Forest Service.
Pinchot extended Federal regulation to all resources in the national forests, including grazing, water power dam sites and mineral rights. The close friendship he had with President Theodore Roosevelt catalyzed the achievements of the conservation movement of the early s. The two men held common interests.
Pinchot soon became a confidant and a member of the President's inner circle, advising him on all conservation questions and frequently writing his speeches and policy statements.
The Governors' Conference on Conservation, largely financed from Pinchot's personal income, brought conservation fully into public view. Attended by governors, members of Congress and the Cabinet, Supreme Court judges and prominent private citizens, it was the first meeting of its kind to address the problem of protection and management of natural resources.
Shortly after, Pinchot was appointed chairman of the National Conservation Committee, whose task was to prepare an inventory of the United States' natural resources. Plans followed for an international conference to be held at The Hague but was aborted by change in administrations. Pinchot did not share with President William Howard Taft the personal relationship he had enjoyed with Roosevelt. Taft was not an advocate of conservation. Ballinger wanted to turn some Alaskan coal lands in the public domain over to private ownership.
After a long battle, the indignant Pinchot, through a Senator, attacked both Ballinger and Taft on the floors of Congress. The public was outraged, which is what Pinchot wanted, and the eventual backlash brought conservation back into the public arena.
The outcry against Pinchot's firing and his continued popularity undoubtedly fueled his thoughts for a political future. He formed and financed the National Conservation Association and served as its president from to The organization's two main objectives were to fight the movement to give the national forests over to the states, and to control power development on government property. But his successes became a model for other bureaucrats on how to influence public opinion.
Preservationists were opposed to massive timber cutting while Congress was increasingly hostile to conservation of the forests, bowing to local commercial pressures for quicker exploitation. InCongress forbade the creation of more forest reserves in the Western states. These were called the Midnight forests. Pinchot—Ballinger controversy Pinchot's authority was substantially undermined by the election of President William Howard Taft in Taft later dismissed Pinchot  for speaking out against his policies and those of Richard BallingerSecretary of the Interior.
That episode hastened the split in the Republican Party that led to the formation of the Progressive Partyof which Pinchot and his brother were top leaders.
One year after the forest fire inferno, Great Fire ofthe religious Greeley succeeded in receiving a promotion to a high administration job in Washington. Inhe became Chief of the Forest Service. Under Greeley, the Service became the fire engine company, protecting trees so the timber industry could cut them down later at government expense.
The timber industry successfully oriented the Forestry Service toward policies favorable to large-scale harvesting via regulatory captureand metaphorically, the timber industry was now the fox in the chicken coop. Pinchot had always preached of a "working forest" for working people and small-scale logging at the edge, preservation at the core.
Graveswhat they saw "tore his heart out. Entire mountainsides, mountain after mountain, were treeless. Pinchot would later express interest in seeking the presidency, and promoted American involvement in World War Iin opposition to President Woodrow Wilson 's neutrality.
Governor William Sproul appointed him state Commissioner of Forestry in Pinchot's aim, however, was to become governor. His campaign for the office concentrated on popular reforms: He won by a wide margin.
InPinchot considered challenging President Calvin Coolidge for the Republican nomination, but ultimately declined to run for the presidency. InGovernor Pinchot proposed his quasi-public "Giant Power" scheme for the state of Pennsylvania — which was very similar to Charles Steinmetz 's plan to transmit electricity by high-voltage lines from power plants located adjacent to Pennsylvania coal mines — but critics dismissed it as " socialism ".
Roosevelt a similar scheme, albeit for a different region, was enacted by Congress and signed into law as the Tennessee Valley Authority TVA. Pinchot temporarily retired from public office at the end of his term on January 18,as Pennsylvania Governors were prohibited from seeking a second consecutive term in office at that time.
Long road to a second term[ edit ] Following the completion of his term as governor, Pinchot and his wife took a seven-month cruise to the South Seas. InPinchot had competed in a combative Republican Senate primary for the seat which he had also sought a dozen years earlier as a Progressive. Boies Penrose, who had defeated Pinchot in the general election ofdied at the end ofand Governor Sproul had appointed lecturer and Republican National Committeeman George Pepper to the seat.
Gifford Pinchot: Early American Conservationist
Pepper won a special election held inbut was challenged by both Pinchot and Congressman William Scott Varethe head of Philadelphia's powerful political machine. Pinchot took a strongly supportive stance on the issue of Prohibition, while Vare vowed to repeal the Eighteenth Amendment within two years, and Pepper sought to straddle the issue. During his tenure as chief of the U. National Park Service with a series of special events.
Why is Gifford Pinchot important?
More importantly, he gave us the notion that these lands are public, that we own them as a body politic. There have been a lot of fights about that, most recently this past year in Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
Gifford Pinchot: Early American Conservationist
Yet by the time he left Yale, he seemed to have known that professionalizing forestry management was what he was going to do with his career. What was driving him? His letters to her early in his childhood are deeply spiritual, although framed in a sort of institutionalized religious way: What is our job here? What are we doing in the short lifetimes that we have? And I think those two things — the outdoor piece and the sort of quest — really drove him by the time he was at Yale… There was a missionary feel about him.
It was true when he was an undergraduate. And 40 years later he was still a missionary, the prophetic voice on the mountaintop, bellowing away about why this stuff matters. As for his career path, read his letters to his parents when he went to Europe to study forestry and you see just how much he and his parents were plotting out the next 10 years. Including their plans to create a forestry school in the s.
Which is another one of his legacies: The notion that forestry, and now environmental studies, is something that must be taught. Others saw the importance of having a forestry school in the United States at the time.
How did it come to be that he founded the Yale Forest School? Part of what he was trying to do was to build upon the capacity for Americans to become foresters, so that they would not have to go over to Europe as he had to. One of the reasons, as he always argued, was that American conditions required American knowledge. But to get that knowledge you needed people who could train and teach you. He did it here, and there is the logic of course that he went to Yale as an undergraduate, so why would he not do it here?
But he was actually talking with Columbia, Harvard, and Princeton as potential sites, too — though I suspect that was not going to ever happen. One of the crucial things he did was that he paid his close friend at Yale, Henry Graves [the second U. Forest chief], to go to Europe to get his graduate education, and brought him into the early Bureau of Forestry. And the moment they made the deal to create the Yale Forest School, he asked Graves to go be its first dean.
And then he could send those Yale students into the Forest Service. If you look at all the early foresters that came out of Yale, at some point early in their careers they worked for the Forest Service… And this becomes the catalyst for a lot of the conversation in the public and private sectors about forestry itself.
And to see Pinchot as anything but a missionary is to miss one of his real key virtues. It was a federal bureau that had virtually no staff when Pinchot entered in as head of the bureau. It had no land.