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USDA Forest Service
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The Forest Service and American Folklife
Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth
Folklife Festival Opening Ceremony
Washington, DC—June 23, 2005

Thank you. It’s a great honor to be here representing the United States Forest Service on the occasion of our hundredth anniversary. I’d like to thank the Smithsonian Institution for bestowing this honor on us. I understand this is one of the few times that a federal agency has been showcased at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. I am deeply touched and grateful.

Many of you are familiar with the Forest Service, but for those of you who are not, you might wonder why we have this privilege. You might wonder: What on earth is the Forest Service, and in what way is it such a part of American folklife that the Smithsonian would do us this honor?

I can’t possibly begin to answer these questions in the couple of minutes I have up here, but I can tell you it’s a lot more than the story of Smokey Bear, although Smokey is certainly part of it. I can also tell you where you might begin to look.

You might begin by looking at our heritage as Americans. As Americans, we all share certain values, including the Great Outdoors. A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt wrote about the value of experiencing the Great Outdoors and the need to conserve our natural resources for future generations. President Roosevelt founded the Forest Service to do just that.

At the time, most people thought that America’s natural resources were so inexhaustible that only a fool would waste time trying to protect them. Well, President Roosevelt found some fools in the Forest Service who were willing to practice conservation on lands all across our nation, whether private or public, federal or nonfederal.

We spent the last century doing just that, and we still do it today. We work with other federal agencies, with the states, with American Indian tribes, with rural and urban communities, with willing landowners, and with nongovernmental organizations of all types to conserve our natural resources for future generations.

Today, conservation is part of our outdoor heritage as Americans, and the Forest Service was part of the story of how this came to be. That’s what this folklife festival is all about—at least, our part of it. You can learn the story of how the Forest Service has contributed to conservation and how, through us, you can experience the Great Outdoors on your national forests and grasslands.

So I hope you have fun at this year’s Smithsonian Folklife Festival. It’s an opportunity to learn more about the Forest Service—more about the Great Outdoors—and more about conservation.

US Forest Service
Last modified March 29, 2013

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