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History - Richard E. McArdle, Eighth Chief, 1952-1962

History Home > Leadership Time Line > McArdle

A picture of former Forest Service Chief McArdle
Richard Edwin McArdle was born on February 25, 1899, in Lexington, Kentucky. He received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in forestry at the University of Michigan in 1923 and 1924. Just after graduating, he began working for the Forest Service as a silviculturist for the Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station in Portland, Oregon. McArdle took three years off beginning in 1927 to complete his Ph.D., returning to Portland to the research station. He left the Forest Service in 1934 to be the dean of the University of Idaho's School of Forestry. He then returned to the Forest Service to be the director of a new forest and range experiment station at Fort Collins, Colorado, then to another directorship at the Appalachian (now Southern Research) Station in Asheville, North Carolina. He moved to the Washington D.C. office in 1944, then served as chief of the Forest Service from July 1952 to March 1962.

McArdle, being the first chief to hold a Ph.D. and to have been a researcher, felt the need for a balanced management of the national forests. He also pushed for long range plans on the national forests and in the research branch. During McArdle's term as Chief, the Timber Resource Review was published which, for the first time, evaluated the total timber resources in the United States. Management of the national forests came under public scrutiny, especially for the emphasis being placed by the Forest Service on timber management to meet the increasing demand for the post World War II housing boom. The result of this public concern was passage of the landmark Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act of 1960, which established broad policy for the development and administration of the national forests in the public interest.

McArdle was successful in increasing intensive management of the national forests, as well as providing for reforestation of logged and other lands, curbing mining and grazing abuses, and accelerating various recreation projects. During his tenure, the Forest Service was assigned the management of four million acres of western plains lands, which they organized as national grasslands. McArdle was also instrumental in upgrading Forest Service personnel, hiring new specialists to bring about intensive management, and to increase the professionalism of employees. He improved relations with the timber industry by backing away from earlier proposals to regulate timber harvesting practices on private lands.

Richard E. McArdle wrote: The national forests are lands of many uses–and many users. The intensity of all these uses is increasing–and increasing rapidly. As intensity increases we sometimes find one or more of these uses in conflict. It would be more accurate to say that there is conflict between the personal interests of the various groups of users....It all boils down to this: The practical workability of the multiple-use concept of national-forest administration is being tested on a scale and to an intensity greater than we have ever experienced. The Forest Service believes than many of the diverse uses of the national forests are reasonably compatible. If we had to deal with only one group of users, it would be somewhat easier to agree on a reasonable course of action. But since we must consider the interests of all the people, so also we usually find ourselves in the middle.

Let me make it completely clear that I think being in the middle is exactly here we ought to be. I believe that our inability to satisfy completely each and every group of national-forest users is a definite sign of success in doing the job assigned to us. When each group is somewhat dissatisfied, it is a sign that no one group is getting more than its fair share. The guiding principle laid down for us nearly fifty years ago still hits the mark. We were instructed [by Secretary James Wilson in 1905] to so administer these national forests that they would yield the “most productive use for the permanent good of the whole people, and not for the temporary benefit of individuals or companies;” and “where conflicting interests must be reconciled, the question will always be decided from the standpoint of the greatest good of the greatest number in the long run.” That is still the guiding policy of the Forest Service, and I hope it always will be. It expresses the responsibility that we have to protect and build up not only your share of stock in these national forests but that of every one of your 150 million fellow Americans (Journal of Forestry, Vol. 51, #5 [May 1953]: 323, 325).

 

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