USDA Forest Service
Grey Towers Reopening
Chief Dale Bosworth, USDA Forest Service
Milford, PAAugust 11, 2001
Congressman Sherwood, members of the Pinchot family,
Eddie Brannon, and all of you who do such great
work through the Pinchot Institute for Conservation:
Its an honor and a privilege for me to be
Today is a special day. It is Gifford Pinchots
birthday. On this day, its especially fitting
to rededicate this beautiful building to the cause
of conservationthis piece of our national
history, the home of Gifford Pinchot.
Who was Gifford Pinchot? For one thing, he was
the nations first Chief Forester, the first
Chief of the Forest Service. But he was more. Almost
four decades ago, President John F. Kennedy first
came here to dedicate Grey Towers. Gifford Pinchot,
he said, was more than a forester; he was
the Father of American Conservation. Pinchot
made conservation a household word.
Thanks to the generosity of the Pinchot family,
Grey Towers is more than a piece of our national
heritage. It is also a piece of our future. In dedicating
the Pinchot Institute for Conservation here at Grey
Towers, President Kennedy defined its role. It
is far more fitting and proper, said the President,
rather than merely honor what [Pinchot] did,
to dedicate this institute to active work today.
By its nature, it looks to the future and
not to the past.
Today, as we look to the future, three points in
our national destiny come together at Grey Towers:
the turn of the twentieth century and the birth
of conservation; the 1960s and a rebirth of conservation,
at Grey Towers and elsewhere; and the turn of the
twenty-first century, a time of opportunity for
the century to come. Our challenge today is to seize
the opportunity to extend conservation and sustainable
forestry for the benefit of generations to come.
For that, we need to go back to the lessons of
the past. What challenges did Gifford Pinchot face?
How have things changed? What role can the Pinchot
Institute play in the future? I believe we need
to look at four broad challenges:
1. The debate over how to manage Americas
forests and rangelands. How will we resolve it?
2. The need for broad cooperation across ownerships.
How can we strengthen it?
3. Global conservation. How can we strengthen our
4. Changing communities as more city folks move
out into the countryside. How can we overcome clashing
valuesa growing polarization of positions?
Let me take a few minutes to talk about each of
these challenges. Ill say upfront: I dont
know the answers. Im not sure anyone does.
I think were all going to have to work through
these issues together as a nation.
First, in the debate over land use, Gifford Pinchot
was no shrinking violet. As a champion for conservation,
he took great delight in plunging into the land
use debates of his day. Some of those debates are
still alive. For example, people still argue over
how many of Americas federal wildlands should
be withdrawn from certain uses. Feelings often run
I think organizations such as the Pinchot Institute
can play a useful role here. They can frame the
debate by helping people distinguish what unites
them from what divides them. Five years ago, at
the Seventh American Forest Conference, more than
a thousand people came together, representing all
kinds of conflicting interests. They were able to
agree, often by large majorities, on 12 out of 13
visions for the future of Americas forests.
I think that gives us hope that we can work together
in the future based on what unites us.
Second, Gifford Pinchot played a dual rolethe
same role I play today as Forest Service Chief.
On one hand, we manage some 192 million acres of
national forests as a model for the nation. On the
other hand, most forestssome 490 million acresremain
in nonfederal hands. Thats why its so
important for us to work together for sustainable
management across ownerships. As Chief Forester,
Gifford Pinchot pioneered the cooperative forestry
model we still follow today. The Forest Service
has considerable authority to provide assistance,
both technical and financial, to nonfederal landowners.
The Pinchot Institute can help us define our cooperative
Third, global issues have become much more important
than they were in Pinchots day. For example,
global commerce has introduced invasive species
that have devastated many of our forests; and commercial
forestry questions are now often international in
scope. Forestry decisions in one country can profoundly
affect others. Organizations such as the Pinchot
Institute can help us articulate international agreements
for sustainable forestry.
Finally, our nation is becoming more urban. Our
cities are expanding to the edge of our wildlands;
and more and more city folks are building homes
out in the country, bringing their urban attitudes
with them. Cultural differences are feeding the
land use debate. The Pinchot Institute can help
us explore ways to better serve our changing communities
and to bridge the differences within and between
Land use quarrels; fragmented forest ownership;
global implications; and changes in our communities.
These are some of the challenges we will face in
the years ahead.
As I said before, I dont have all the answers.
But I do know this: if we can work together on the
basis of what unites us, then what divides us neednt
defeat us. As a basis for what unites us, I would
offer this: What we leave on the land is more important
than what we take away. In the spirit of Gifford
Pinchot, lets meet the needs of the present
without compromising the ability of future generations
to meet their own needs. Lets let Pinchots
legacy be our guide.