When the furious timber industry forced through Congress a law forbidding any more such reservations without the legislature's consent, Roosevelt and his chief forester Gifford Pinchot sat up all night; only after he had put away a final 16 million acres did Roosevelt sign the bill preventing him from doing so.
That principled balking of a powerful group could be an inspiration to Bush, if he let it. For since the 1950s, the Forest Service has been snuggling up to the timber industry it was created to guard against, ignoring or minimizing the other uses it is bound by law to promote.
In the Forest Organic Act of 1897, the national forests were charged with protecting watersheds and guaranteeing a future supply of timber. Grazing almost immediately asserted itself as an established use. Recreation--including fishing, hunting, hiking, camping, climbing, solitude and spiritual refreshment--also had to be accommodated. Visits to the national forests were fairly constant at about 10 million a year until World War II. After the war they went up and up. By 1975, 190 million visits a year were recorded, and now national forests draw more recreational visitors than national parks.
Use was always foremost in Pinchot's mind-- wise use, benefiting the greatest number over the longest time. The bureau he created has consistently differentiated itself by that criterion from the National Park Service, which it sees as preservationist. That is why, in national forests, the signs say "Land of Many Uses." In fact, the Multiple Use-Sustained Yield Act of 1959 put those various uses into law, listing them alphabetically to emphasize their equal importance: outdoor recreation, range, timber, watershed and wildlife and fish habitat. To those was added wilderness preservation. As long as the cut in the national forests was minimal, the uses did not significantly clash. But as private forest lands were cut over, demand for timber from the national forests grew. Since 1950, it has grown steeply, and the practice of clear-cutting--skinning whole mountainsides--increased as well. The symbiosis of the Forest Service and timber industry became even closer, until, in the Reagan Administration, an industry executive was directing the national forests.