Forests for the People

Forests For the People, Front CoverI’m a writer, an editor, and a teacher. But most of all, I love being on the hiking trail, somewhere in wilderness. Or on trails here in northern Illinois, where I live. Or in Bryce Canyon. Or in the White Mountains in New Hampshire, where the photo above was taken. Or in Rocky Mountain National Park.

I’ve been fortunate enough to explore the outdoors and write about them in articles, essays, and two books. The book shown here is a new one—Forests for the People: The Story of America’s Eastern National Forests. It was published in 2013 by Island Press, and the co-author is David Govatski.

The book is a unique blend of history and today. It explains how the past continues to affect current issues affecting America’s wonderful forests. Part I tells how heavy logging and forest fires almost destroyed America’s eastern forests in the early 1900s. Conservationists, including Theodore Roosevelt, called attention to the issue and pushed for the passage of the Weeks Act in 1911. The law was the first one that allowed the federal government to buy forestlands and grasslands for the purpose of protecting them. It was landmark legislation, leading to the creation of national forests in the East, South, and Midwest.

Part II takes a close look at issues on the eastern national forests today, using case studies that explore each issue in depth:

  • Timber harvesting on Holly Springs National Forest in Mississippi
  • The use of prescribed burns on the Ocala, Osceola, and Apalachicola National Forests in Florida
  • Wilderness protection on the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia
  • Preservation versus multiple use in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
  • Wolf recovery on Michigan’s national forests
  • Shale oil drilling on the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania
  • The emerald ash borer and other invasive species on Michigan’s national forests
  • Overdevelopment near the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont and North Carolina’s national forests

You can order the book at Island Press’s Web site. Visit to find out more.

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Stock photo credit: New Hampshire Mountains © nialat —
Author photo credit: Tony Narducci