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Weeks Act Centennial 2011 Logo

Weeks Act Centennial 2011

The Forest Service is celebrating the 100th anniversary of one of the most successful land conservation efforts in the U.S. The Weeks Act was signed into law in 1911, after a decade-long debate about the role of the federal government in protecting forestlands. The Weeks Act, named after Massachusetts Congressman John Weeks, allowed the use of federal funding to purchase forest land for conservation. The Weeks Act appropriated $9 million to purchase 6 million acres of land in the eastern United States.

A histortic picture of the Pisgah National Forest.  A sign in the foreground highlights that the pictured area was reforested by the Pisgah National Forest. A picture of the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina.  A trail is in the center, which cuts through a dense forest.

The success of the Weeks Act and its contribution to the conservation of natural resources in the eastern United States has been enormous. During the last 100 years, The Weeks Act led to the creation of 52 national forests in 26 Eastern states and the addition of 19.7 million acres on national forests and grasslands across 41 states and Puerto Rico.

In addition to the 780,000-acre White Mountain National Forest, such forests as the Green Mountain, Pisgah, Allegheny, George Washington, Ottawa and many others were created, often incorporating cut-over and eroded lands. Today they are valuable forests, providing clean water, wildlife, recreation, forest products and a variety of other goods and services.

In 2011 we celebrate the centennial of the Weeks Act and explore what it took to reach a broad consensus on such an important issue, what the results were and what the next hundred years of the Weeks Act hold.

President celebrates Weeks Act - Feb. 23, 2011 Reconnecting Americans today and in the future to a vast array of breathtaking and historic natural treasures has its roots in Weeks Act passed 100 years ago. Read President's message.

News Release: US Forest Service Celebrates 100th Anniversary of Weeks Act

History: Forest Service historian Lincoln Bramwell writes about the history of the Weeks Act and its impact on the country.

National Celebration Events and Activities

National Overview

The Weeks Act legacy began 100 years ago March 1, 1911 when President William Taft signed it into law. This groundbreaking law led to the creation and restoration of many of the forest we enjoy today, particularly those in the eastern United States.



Forest Land Conservation in the 21st Century:


Symposium Highlighted Past Successes and Identified Future Opportunities


The Weeks Act was the answer to the forest restoration challenges of the 20th century, but how will we be able to address the very different set of land conservation challenges we face in the 21st century?  This June 7-8 symposium at Yale University explored a number of highly innovative conservation projects, made possible by a diversity of public and private partnerships working together toward common goals.  Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell and other conservationists identified opportunities to build on this success in the face of evolving conservation challenges, and broaden support for conservation among all Americans.

The symposium commemorated the U.S. participation in the U.N.’s International Year of Forests 2011 as well as the centennial of the Weeks Act.  The symposium was sponsored by the USDA Forest Service, the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and the Pinchot Institute for Conservation.  The agenda, speeches and presentations are available for review here.   


Listen to WNPR’s "Where We Live" June 10, 2011 interview with Chief Tom Tidwell (courtesy of WNPR - Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network).

Other Celebration Events and Activities

Planned Activities: See list of planned activities.


Southern Region

The Southern Region (Region 8) hosts a Weeks Act web page with information about the far-reaching significance of the Weeks Act and how it has shaped southern national forests as well as a number of events and activities throughout the year.

Eastern Region

The Eastern Region (Region 9), thanks to the groundbreaking Weeks Act, is home to the creation and restoration of many of the national forests we enjoy today including the White Mountain, the Green Mountain, the Allegheny, the Ottawa and others.

  • The White Mountain National Forest is working with partners in New England to celebrate the Weeks Act: New Hampshire Public Television has hosted a website for the Weeks Act Centennial Weeks Act commemorative activities on the White Mountain NF and in New England. To find out more about the Weeks Act and activities celebrating this year’s centennial in New England please visit http://www.weekslegacy.org/.

USDA Forest Service
Last modified: February 15, 2011

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